| or Call: (404) 627-4734

Tweet Me!


Georgia musicians laid the foundations for several music genres

State Spotlight


Became a state on..... January 2, 1788

Southern Genres..... Blues, Bluegrass, Folk, Funk, Native American, Jazz, Soul, Gospel, Spirituals, Jazz, Rhythm & Blues, Southern Hip-Hop, Southern Rock, A Cappella, Classical, Shape-note.

Music Museum..... Planned location of the Southern Museum of Music

From bluegrass to gospel and everything in between, Georgia has a wide ranging musical history that spans as many genres as it does decades. Artists such as Ray Charles, Gladys Knight, Trisha Yearwood, Alan Jackson, the B-52s, Outkast, Otis Redding, James Brown, The Allman Brothers Band, Sugarland, Lady Antebellum, Zac Brown Band and more, all hail from the Peach State.

"Always on Our Mind"

Georgia Roots Music

Georgia is a state in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. Named after King George II of Great Britain, Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788. It declared its secession from the Union on January 19, 1861, and was one of the original seven Confederate states. It was the last state to be restored to the Union, on July 15, 1870. Georgia is the 24th largest and the 8th most populous of the 50 United States. From 2007 to 2008, 14 of Georgia's counties ranked among the nation's 100 fastest-growing, second only to Texas. Georgia is known as the Peach State and the Empire State of the South. Atlanta is the state's capital and its most populous city.

Georgia is bordered to the south by Florida, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean and South Carolina, to the west by Alabama, and to the north by Tennessee and North Carolina. The state's northern part is in the Blue Ridge Mountains, part of the Appalachian Mountains system. The Piedmont extends through the central part of the state from the foothills of the Blue Ridge to the Fall Line, where the rivers cascade down in elevation to the coastal plain of the state's southern part. Georgia's highest point is Brasstown Bald at 4,784 feet (1,458 m) above sea level; the lowest is the Atlantic Ocean. Georgia is the largest state east of the Mississippi River in land area.

Music of Georgia

"State Song"

Georgia on My Mind

"Georgia on My Mind" is a song by Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell, now often associated with the version by Ray Charles, a native of Georgia, who recorded it for his 1960 album The Genius Hits the Road. It became the official state song of Georgia in 1979.

The song was written in 1930 by Hoagy Carmichael (music) and Stuart Gorrell (lyrics). Although it is frequently asserted that the lyrics were written not about the state of Georgia, but rather for Carmichael's sister, Georgia Carmichael, Hoagy Carmichael himself contradicted this view with his recounting of the origin of the song in his second autobiography Sometimes I Wonder. Carmichael wrote that the song was composed when bandleader Frankie Trumbauer suggested that he write about the state of Georgia. According to Carmichael, Trumbauer also suggested the opening lyrics should be "Georgia, Georgia ...", with the remaining lyrics coming from Gorrell. Carmichael made no mention at all of his sister in his telling of the song's genesis.

The song was first recorded on September 15, 1930, in New York by Hoagy Carmichael and His Orchestra with Bix Beiderbecke on muted cornet and Hoagy Carmichael on vocals. It featured Eddie Lang on guitar. The recording was part of Beiderbecke's last recording session. The recording was released as Victor 23013 with "One Night in Havana". In 2014, the recording was inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame.


The song has been recorded by many artists, significant among them: Ailee, Richard Manuel, Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Ethel Waters, Frankie Laine, Dean Martin, Jerry Reed, Glenn Miller, Eddy Arnold, The Anita Kerr Singers, Brenda Lee, Zac Brown Band, Michael Bublé, Michael Bolton, Dave Brubeck, Anita O'Day, Mildred Bailey, Leon Russell, George Roberts, Ella Fitzgerald, Rebecca Parris, Gerald Albright, Jo Stafford, Gladys Knight, Gene Krupa, Grover Washington, Jr., James Brown, Usher, Fats Waller, Billie Holiday, Nat Gonella and The Georgians, Django Reinhardt, Khalil Fong, Wes Montgomery, Jerry Garcia, John Scofield, John Mayer, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Willie Littlefield, The Righteous Brothers, Deep Purple, Tom Jones, Jackie Wilson, Maceo Parker, Crystal Gayle, Van Morrison, Willie Nelson, The Hi-Lo's, Ray Bryant, Coldplay, Annie Lennox (from Nostalgia 2014), the Spencer Davis Group (with Steve Winwood on vocals), Tony Rice, Lou Rawls, Arturo Sandoval, instrumental version by Oscar Peterson, and Al Hirt. Bing Crosby recorded this song twice: in 1956 with Buddy Cole and his trio and in 1975 with Paul Smith and Band for the LP A Southern Memoir.

Stuart Gorrell's letter to his home town Teen Hop patrons, published in the Bremen Enquirer, 3 Aug 1961 Frankie Trumbauer had the first major hit recording in 1931, when his recording made the top ten on the charts. Trumbauer had suggested that Carmichael compose the song. Another 1931 hit version was Mildred Bailey's vocal made with members of Paul Whiteman's Orchestra.

Instrumental version was recorded on March 20, 1962, for the LP There Is Nothing Like a Dame with Pete Candoli and Conte Candoli on trumpets, Shelly Manne on drums, Jimmy Rowles on piano, Howard Roberts on guitar and Gary Peacock on bass.

The song was a standard at performances by Ronnie Hawkins and The Hawks in the late 1950s and early 1960s, where it was sung by pianist Richard Manuel. When The Hawks split off on their own and became The Band, they kept the song as part of their repertoire. They recorded a studio version of the song for Jimmy Carter's presidential bid in 1976, which was released as a single that year as well as on their 1977 album Islands.

Cold Chisel's version of the song appeared on the album Barking Spiders Live: 1983 and has become a staple of their live shows. Guitarist Ian Moss still performs the song and a live version is included in his Let's All Get Together album.

The song is also associated with the Spirit of Atlanta Drum and Bugle Corps. "Georgia" was originally featured in their 1979 show and the corps continues to perform it today. Currently the piece is performed as a warm-up or in a formal setting by Spirit's members and alumni.

Ray Charles

It was not until Ray Charles' 1960 recording on The Genius Hits the Road, that the song became a major hit, reaching the number one spot for one week in November 1960 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. On March 7, 1979, in a mutual symbol of reconciliation after conflict over civil rights issues, he performed it before the Georgia General Assembly (the state legislature). After this performance, the connection to the state was firmly made, and the Assembly adopted it as the state song on April 24.

Although there is no actual evidence to that effect, according to the 2004 film Ray, Charles was lifted from a supposed lifetime ban implemented since 1962.

This version of the song was played with a video montage each time that Georgia Public Television went off the air nightly. With the advent of 24-hour broadcasting, it is rarely used now, the last time being in 2009 for the permanent sign-off of GPB's analog TV stations on February 17.

The song was used as the theme song to the CBS sitcom Designing Women (set in Atlanta), initially as an instrumental (performed by Doc Severinsen), and later in a recording by Ray Charles. Charles' version was also sampled for rap group Field Mob's 2005 single, "Georgia", featuring Jamie Foxx and Ludacris. Lil Wayne also uses the song in his satirical song about George W. Bush called "Georgia Bush".

Sometime after 2000, Charles invited the Italian singer Giorgia Todrani to sing the song with him after learning she was named in honor of the song.

Jamie Foxx and Alicia Keys, backed by Quincy Jones and his Orchestra, performed a new arrangement in honor of Ray Charles at the 2005 Grammy Awards.

Willie Nelson

Willie Nelson recorded "Georgia" on his 1978 album of standards Stardust. It was released as single, peaked at #1 for a single week and a total of 16 weeks on a country chart. A year later, Nelson won a Grammy award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance for his version of the song.

Georgia Roots Music

In the words of Bobby Moore from the Center for Public History at the University of West Georgia... Georgia has been at the forefront of the music industry since musicians started to become recording stars, from the birth of rhythm and blues and rock and roll and continuing through the rise of southern rock, with Macon's Capricorn Records, and Atlanta's more recent rap and hip-hop boom. Many of these Georgia artists were influenced by traditions they learned in church or by exposure to a range of sacred and secular roots music in their communities.

By the 1920s the recording industry had embraced the roots music found in Georgia's rural communities and growing urban centers, and it was turning performers into recording artists and fans into consumers. National labels recorded African American blues music as part of its "race" records series and channeled white old-time musicians into the new "hillbilly" or "Old Favorites" collections.

After World War II, regional record labels began to record local performers of new forms of roots-inspired music, such as rhythm and blues and southern rock & roll. These new styles of music increasingly appealed to national recording companies looking for ways to win over American teenagers and their disposable incomes.

The popularity of these new music styles in the 1950s brought African American artists into the limelight, both as performers and as the writers of songs that white pop stars turned into instant hits. Among the African American stars from the early years of rock and roll are Georgia natives William "Willie" Lee Perryman, known as "Piano Red," and more famously, Richard Wayne Penniman, known as "Little Richard." Black musicians from Georgia performing rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and soul took their music on the road, as had the generation before. They found places to play in the segregated South through such "Chitlin' Circuit" venues as the Royal Peacock in Atlanta and the Carver Theater in Waycross.

By the mid-1960s "Beatlemania" culture caused many of the rawer, underground rock-and-roll sounds of the previous decade to be assimilated into mainstream culture. Georgia natives like pop star Tommy Roe and singer/songwriter Joe South became more than just regional sensations. Several early rock stars emerged from rural Georgia, including Bremen High School graduates and brothers Dean and Mark Mathis of the Newbeats, a rock trio most famous for the 1964 hit "Bread and Butter."

James Brown

Soul music, a blend of gospel and rhythm and blues, gained popularity in the 1950s and 1960s. Well-known Georgians such as Otis Redding, Ray Charles, and James Brown went from small, regional labels and local clubs to the Apollo Theater stage in New York City and international success. Influential African American vocalist and Toccoa native Bobby Byrd discovered James Brown while Brown was serving time in a Toccoa prison. Byrd helped to establish the Famous Flames, in which they both performed.

R.E.M. receives an award in 2006.Rock and roll has maintained a presence in Georgia through regional favorites like Col. Bruce Hampton's numerous bands and internationally known acts like R.E.M. and the Black Crowes.

New country and rock sounds mixed with older blues influences, like the slide guitar, in the late 1960s to form southern rock, a regional style that sprang from Macon, Georgia; Muscle Shoals, Alabama; and Jacksonville, Florida. Capricorn recording artists the Allman Brothers might be the most famous band to adopt this style, and they influenced peers from Georgia, such as the Atlanta Rhythm Section and Widespread Panic, a jam band from Athens.

As rock and roll was becoming a cultural phenomenon, country music in the 1960s began to develop a slicker sound and more promotable stars, including such Georgia natives as steel guitar pioneer Pete Drake, funny man Ray Stevens, and singer/songwriter Jerry Reed. Numerous country stars from the state would go on to The Allman Brothers Band have success in the country music industry, including Trisha Yearwood, Travis Tritt, Alan Jackson, and more recently, the groups Sugarland, Lady Antebellum, and the Zac Brown Band.

Georgia has produced many popular commercial songwriters in recent decades, including Spellman born Boudleaux Bryan, who, with his wife and writing partner, Felice, penned the famous bluegrass song "Rocky Top" and "Love Hurts." LaGrange native Chips Moman, a Grammy-winning producer and songwriter, produced hits in country, rock, and pop music before returning to his hometown, where he still continues to produce and record.

The Internet and the vitality of Atlanta's underground music scene have nurtured less mainstream but still roots-inspired sounds, from the southern hip-hop stylings of OutKast to the ambient sounds of Deerhunter, which are heard across the world.

Music Genres of Georgia


Georgia's folk musical traditions include important contributions to the Piedmont blues, shape note singing, and African American music.

African American folk music

The "ring shout" is an African American musical and dance tradition that is among the oldest surviving African American performance styles in North America. The ring shout tradition is rare in the modern Southern United States, but it still found in McIntosh County, Georgia, where black communities have kept the style alive. The McIntosh County ring shout is a counterclockwise ring dance featuring clapping and stick-beating percussion with call-and-response vocals. The ring shout tradition is strongest in Boldon, Georgia (also known as Briar Patch), where it is traditionally performed on New Year's Eve.

The Georgia Sea Island Singers are an important group in modern African American folk music in Georgia. They perform worldwide the Gullah/Geechee music of the Georgia coast and Sea Islands, and have been touring since the early 1900s; the folklorist and musicologist Alan Lomax discovered the Singers on a 1959-60 collecting trip and helped to bring their music to new audiences. The Georgia Sea Island Singers have included Bessie Jones, Emma Ramsey, John Davis, Mayble Hillery, and Peter Davis.

Fife and drum blues has been documented in west central Georgia.

The Freedom Singers are a group that formed in 1962 in Albany to educate communities about civil rights issues through song.

Multi-instrumentalist Abner Jay, born in Fitzgerald, performed eccentric blues-infused folk music as a one-man band.

American folk music revival

Folksinger/songwriter Hedy West, active in the American folk music revival and famous for her song "500 Miles", was born in Cartersville.


In prehistoric times, during the many centuries that passed before the first European explorers entered North America, the original inhabitants of Georgia - the Native Americans- used song, instrumentation, and dance as the means to teach, preserve, and celebrate their traditions.

Music was a central element in the practice of religious observances and in the celebration of and teaching about significant historical events and sacred beliefs. Even now, contemporary Native Americans whose roots lie in Georgia continue to practice many of the ancient musical and ceremonial traditions that originated here. Traditional forms of music and ceremonial dance continue to comprise the nucleus of the religious and social activities that are observed today among Indian groups whose origins lie in Georgia.

Beginning in the late 1700s and continuing through the 1840s, the Native American communities that existed in Georgia were forced by the U.S. and Georgia state government to Cherokee Map from 1830abandon their traditional homelands. Certain Cherokees, Muscogee Creeks, Yuchis, and several other Indian nations were marched from their aboriginal territories in Georgia to lands west of the Mississippi River- to what was then termed Indian Territory, now the state of Oklahoma. Others in Georgia and nearby states, including additional Cherokees, Seminoles, Hitchitees, Choctaws, and Chickasaws, escaped to remote areas in Mississippi, Texas, Florida, North Carolina, and other parts of the United States.

Most southeastern Indian tribal groups of today, despite the many centuries of hardship endured by their forebears, continue to maintain their complexes of sacred and social songs and dance. Southeastern Indian tribal groups in Florida, North Carolina, and Oklahoma continue to observe a ceremonial cycle called Green Corn. This ritual has traditional music and dance at its very core. Most old ceremonial songs sung during Green Corn adhere to a call-and-response pattern, a style that is also frequently identified with African American song traditions.

The rhythms that accompany the southeastern Indian ceremonial dances and dance songs are produced on turtle-shell or tin-can rattles that are worn on the legs of the women dancers. Hand held turtle-shell, gourd, or coconut-shell rattles played by male dance and song leaders complete the ensemble. There are also special songs that accompany the game of stickball, an important ceremonially connected athletic event that is still frequently played among southeastern Indians.

The most likely Indian-related music and dance events to be staged in Georgia today are modern powwows. In addition to the traditional southeastern Indian ceremonial activities listed above, many southeastern Indians of the twenty-first century participate in these more broad-based, intertribal events. Modern-day powwows are public occasions that are open to both Indian and non-Indian participants and audiences. These events, which occur relatively often in modern Georgia, include colorfully costumed dancers who compete for prize money, skilled teams of drummers who play for the dancers, Native American and pioneer crafts demonstrations, traditional Indian and other traditional foodways, Indian flute players, and singers of traditional Indian songs.

The several powwows that are staged annually in Georgia, in Indian Springs and elsewhere, sometimes pay a special tribute to the Native American tribal ancestors who were forcibly removed from the state during the nineteenth century. Today, no federally recognized American Indian tribal groups are based in the state of Georgia.


The Georgia blues scene, which had its heyday in the 1920s and 1930s. According to AllMusic,"The Atlanta blues scene of the 1920s was among the most fertile in all the South, with a steady stream of rural musicians converging on the city hoping to gain exposure playing the local club circuit, with any luck rising to perform at Decatur Street's famed 81 Theatre."

Ma Rainey, from Columbus, was among the earliest professional blues singers and one of the first generation of such singers to record. Piedmont blues artist Blind Willie McTell was born in Thomson. Country blues singer and guitarist Peg Leg Howell was born in Eatonton. Singer Ida Cox was from Toccoa. Singer and guitarist Kokomo Arnold was born in Lovejoy's Station. Singer Lucille Hegamin was born in Macon. Singer Trixie Smith was born in Atlanta. Blues pianists from Georgia include Thomas A. Dorsey, born in Villa Rica, Big Maceo Merriweather, born in Atlanta, and Piano Red, born near Hampton. Barbeque Bob was from Walnut Grove. Singer and guitarist Curley Weaver was born in Covington. Charley Lincoln was born in Lithonia. Harmonicist Eddie Mapp was born in Social Circle. Harmonicist Sonny Terry was born in Greesboro. Buddy Moss was born in Jewell. Singer and guitarist Blind Simmie Dooley was born in Hartwell. Songwriter and one-man band Jesse Fuller was born in Jonesboro. Bumble Bee Slim was born in Brunswick. Country blues artist Precious Bryant was born in Talbot County. Jump blues singer and musician Billy Wright was born in Atlanta. Singer and guitarist Robert Cray was born in Columbus.

Many of these musicians banded together into groups; the most popular of these bands were the Georgia Cotton Pickers.

More modern blues performers that have come out of or near Atlanta include The Allman Brothers Band, The Black Crowes, Tinsley Ellis, Delta Moon, and Chick Willis.


On June 14, 1923, the country music recording industry was launched in Atlanta when Fiddlin' John Carson made his first phonograph record for Okeh Records Company representative Polk C. Brockman. Carson's recordings of "The Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane" and "The Old Hen Cackled and the Rooster's Going to Crow" sold over 500,0000 copies and opened the eyes of record company executives to the market for "old-time" country music. Along with Carson, Gid Tanner and His Skillet Lickers and Georgia Yellow Hammers made Atlanta and North Georgia an early center of old-time string band music.

In the 1960s, guitarist Chet Atkins, born in Luttrell, Tennessee but raised in Hamilton, Georgia, drew on jazz and pop music to help create the smoother country music style known as the Nashville Sound, expanding country music's appeal to adult pop fans. Country music superstars Alan Jackson, Trisha Yearwood, and Travis Tritt are natives of Georgia. Other successful country music acts from Georgia include Norman Blake, Jerry Reed, Brenda Lee (who had a #1 Hot 100 hit with "I'm Sorry" in 1960), Billy Currington, Cyndi Thomson, Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland, Daryle Singletary, Doug Stone, John Berry, Rhett Akins, Mark Wills, the Zac Brown Band, and Lady Antebellum, as well as up and coming stars Jason Aldean, Daniel Antopolsky, Brantley Gilbert, Luke Bryan, Thomas Rhett, Kip Moore, Lauren Alaina, and Jessie James. Other notable country musicians from Georgia include Corey Smith and Tabby Crabb from Sumter Co., who worked with the original Urban Cowboy Band, Hank Cochran, Keith Urban, and many others in Nashville. Georgia country music superstars with a #1 album on the Billboard 200 chart include Atlanta area musicians Alan Jackson with 3 #1 albums and Zac Brown Band with 3; Jason Aldean with 3, Luke Bryan (from south Georgia) with 2, and Sugarland with 2 #1 albums.


Big band swing bandleader and pianist Fletcher Henderson and his younger brother arranger Horace Henderson were born in Cuthbert. Stride pianist and composer Mary Lou Williams, avant-garde jazz alto saxophonist Marion Brown, and singer Jean Carne were born in Atlanta. Big band bandleader and trumpet player Harry James was born in Albany. Bebop saxophonist James Moody, hard bop saxophonist Sahib Shihab, and singer Irene Reid were born in Savannah. Trombonist J.C. Higginbotham was born in Social Circle. Tenor saxophonist and arranger Teddy McRae was born in Waycross. George Adams was born in Covington. Singer Joe Williams was born in Cordele.

Rhythm & Blues

Augusta native James Brown and Macon native Little Richard started performing in Georgia clubs on the Chitlin' Circuit, fused gospel with blues and boogie-woogie to lay the foundations for southern rock & roll and soul music, and rank among the most iconic musicians of the 20th century. Soul pioneers Curtis Mayfield and Ray Charles were also born in Georgia; Charles helped to invent the soul genre by borrowing elements of rhythm and blues, country, jazz, gospel, and blues, while Mayfield wrote and produced the popular Blaxploitation soundtrack Super Fly and recorded a number of seminal Civil Rights anthems with the Impressions. Ray Charles had 3 #1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, including "Georgia on My Mind" in 1960 (which is the official state song of Georgia). Ray Charles won another Grammy for Album of the Year for his 2004 Genius Loves Company. Atlanta native Chuck Willis was a blues, R&B, and rock and roll singer and songwriter active from 1950-58. In the 1960s, Atlanta native Gladys Knight proved one of the most popular Motown recording artists, while Otis Redding, born in the small town of Dawson but raised in Macon, defined the grittier Southern soul sound of Memphis-based Stax Records. Gladys Knight had a #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 with "Midnight Train to Georgia" in 1973. Otis Redding had a #1 hit on the Hot 100 with "(Sittin' on) the Dock of the Bay" in 1968.

Southern Rock and Rock & Roll

The earliest Atlanta-based music maven, Bill Lowery, started the careers of Ray Stevens, Joe South, Jerry Reed, and countless others, and created the first Georgia-based springboard for such talent, National Recording Corporation, sporting not only a record label, but a recording studio and pressing plant. Lowery would later work with the likes of Billy Joe Royal, Mac Davis, Dennis Yost & The Classics IV, and The Atlanta Rhythm Section, giving Atlanta national relevance with his Lowery Music group of publishing companies, one of the world's biggest music publishers. Noted session and touring drummer, Michael Huey, started his career at Bill Lowery studios.

Tommy Roe, from Atlanta, had 2 #1 Hot 100 hits, including "Dizzy" in 1969.

The Allman Brothers Band, founded in Jacksonville, Florida, moved to Macon at the urging of their manager, Phil Walden, who had previously managed Otis Redding. The Allman Brothers had a #2 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 with "Ramblin' Man" in 1973. Walden's Macon-based Capricorn Records, spearheaded the rise of Southern rock, and the success of the Allman Brothers paved the way for other Southern rock bands, including Atlanta Rhythm Section, South Carolina-based Marshall Tucker Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd, also founded in Jacksonville. Georgia has also produced a number of Southern rock groups throughout the last three decades, including the Black Crowes (who had a #1 album on the Billboard 200 in 1992), The Georgia Satellites, Blackberry Smoke, Confederate Railroad, and Drivin' 'N' Cryin'.

The city of Athens, Georgia, home to the University of Georgia, has been a fertile field for alternative rock bands since the late 1970s. Notable bands from Athens include R.E.M., The B-52's, Widespread Panic, Drive-By Truckers, Cartel, Of Montreal, and Dead Confederate. Athens is also home to the Elephant 6 Recording Company, an indie collective whose members include The Apples in Stereo and Neutral Milk Hotel. R.E.M. had 2 #1 albums on the Billboard 200, including Out of Time in 1991.

Acoustic rock/folk duo the Indigo Girls got their start in Decatur, and alternative rock bands Collective Soul and September Hase began in Stockbridge and Tifton, respectively. Rock pianist Elton John spends some time living in Atlanta, and singer-songwriter John Mayer has lived in Atlanta since dropping out of the Berklee School of Music in 1998.

Georgia has contributed to the ska scene with the bands Treephort, 50:50 Shot, and The Taj Motel Trio. Ska punk has seen a recent revival in Georgia with the regional ska festival, the Mass Ska Raid, taking place for the first time in 2008.

Along with Louisiana and the rest of the Southern area, there is a strong heavy metal music scene in Georgia, with bands such as Mastodon, Baroness, Collective Soul, Royal Thunder, Black Tusk, Kylesa, Withered, Sevendust, and Attila. Thrash metal band Tetrarch are from Atlanta.

Neon Christ are a notable band from the Atlanta Hardcore scene.

Several Christian rock musicians have come out of Georgia, including Third Day, Casting Crowns, Bebo Norman, and Family Force 5.

Cat Power (Chan Marshall) was born in Atlanta and got her start there.

The 2000s saw the rise of Atlanta indie rock bands The Black Lips, Deerhunter, and The Coathangers.

Pop rock singer songwriter Phillip Phillips, who won the eleventh season of American Idol in 2012, was born in Albany.

Southern Hip-Hop

Atlanta-based OutKast proved one of the first commercially successful hip hop groups from outside of New York or Los Angeles. In the 1990s and 2000s, Atlanta became the leading center of urban music. Artists like Lloyd, T.I., TLC, Monica, Usher, 112, Ludacris, YoungBloodZ, OutKast, Goodie Mob (as well as the Dungeon Family music collective which both are members of) and producers like Organized Noize, L.A. Reid, and Jermaine Dupri, the latter of whom founded the successful record labels LaFace and SoSo Def, have blurred musical boundaries by blending R&B singing with Hip-Hop production. More recently, Atlanta is also known as a center of crunk music, an electric bass-driven club music whose most visible practitioner has been Atlanta-based producer/hype man/rapper Lil Jon.

Kris Kross ("Jump"), TLC 4 #1s- ("Waterfalls"), Silk (group)- ("Freak Me"), Monica 3 #1s (like "Angel of Mine"), Usher (9 #1s), Outkast 3 #1s, Ludacris 5 #1s- ("Stand Up"), Ciara ("Goodies"), D4L- ("Laffy Taffy"), T.I. "The King of the South" 3 #1s- ("Whatever You Like"), Soulja Boy ("Crank That (Soulja Boy)"), and B.o.B. ("Nothin' on You") all had at least one #1 single on the Billboard Hot 100 from the early 90s to 2010. Also, rappers Lil Jon and Young Jeezy were featured on Usher's #1 Hot 100 singles: "Yeah!" in 2004 and "Love in this Club" in 2008. The R&B group 112 were featured on Puff Daddy's #1 Hot 100 song "I'll Be Missing You" in 1997. Rapper Yung Joc was featured on T-Pain's #1 Hot 100 song "Buy U a Drank". R&B singer Sleepy Brown from Savannah was featured on Outkast's #1 Hot 100 song "The Way You Move" in 2004. In addition, Atlanta rapper 2 Chainz had a #1 album on the Billboard 200 in 2012: Based on a T.R.U. Story. And ATL rapper Future has had 3 #1 albums on the Billboard 200 including the trap music album DS2 in 2015.


Modernist composer Wallingford Riegger was born in Albany. Singer/composer Roland Hayes was born in Curryville. Opera singer Mattiwilda Dobbs was born in Atlanta. Opera singer Jessye Norman is native to Augusta. Opera singer Jamie Barton is from Rome, GA. Composer/arranger Hall Johnson was born in Athens. Composer Lena McLin was born in Atlanta. Famous music director Robert Shaw spent much of his time living in Atlanta directing the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus.

Notable Georgian classical groups include the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Atlanta Chamber Players, the Atlanta Symphony Chorus, Atlanta Opera, the Georgia Boy Choir, the Atlanta Boy Choir, Georgia Symphony Orchestra, New Trinity Baroque, the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra, Atlanta Ballet, and the Gwinnett Ballet Theatre, as well as symphonies in the cities of Columbus, Macon, Augusta, and Savannah.


The Sacred Harp, first published in 1844, was compiled and produced by Georgians Benjamin Franklin White and Elisha J. King. They helped establish a singing tradition also known as Sacred Harp, fasola, or shape note singing. The Sacred Harp system use notes represented by different shapes according to scale degree, intended to make it easy for people to learn to sight-read music and perform complex pieces without a lot of training. Established in 1933, the Sacred Harp Publishing Company, located in Carrollton, Georgia, publishes the most widely used 1991 edition of The Sacred Harp. Hugh McGraw of Bremen, Georgia, served as the company's executive secretary from 1958–2002 and helped encourage Sacred Harp's recent resurgence in popularity. A Georgia-based music label, Bibletone Records, has reissued a 28-cut CD of Sacred Harp music originally released as LPs by the publishing company.


Atlanta is a center of the gospel music scene in many genres, particularly urban contemporary gospel (black gospel) as well as Southern gospel and spirituals. The leading industry award ceremony, the GMA Dove Awards of the Gospel Music Association, have taken place since 2011 in Atlanta's Fox Theater. The Atlanta Gospel Choice Awards are also given out yearly at a well-attended festival. Gospel groups based in Atlanta included The Statesmen Quartet and many others.

Bluegrass & Old Times Music

From the Appalachian and Blue Ridge Mountains in the north of the state to the southern tip in Thomasville, Georgia is home to authentic old-time and bluegrass music experiences. North American folk traditions of music and dance that have been passed down for generations are performed in town squares, parks and community stages for audiences to enjoy and often, participate in.

North Georgia has a strong and well-documented tradition of Hillbilly music. The Fiddler’s Conventions, Fiddlin’ John Carson and Moonshine Kate, Gid Tanner and the Skillet Lickers, Riley Puckett and others contributed to the wealth of music in the first half of the twentieth century.

Contemporaneously with these golden years of Hillbilly music, one man heard a different sound and set about assembling the components needed to create that sound. In 1938 Bill Monroe traveled to Atlanta where he advertised for musicians and subsequently hired a young guitarist from North Georgia named Cleo Davis. From this origin Monroe would soon name his group the Blue Grass Boys and begin to create the branch of Hillbilly music which would one day be known as Bluegrass.

By 1946 Monroe’s distinctive sound was complete and had begun to draw imitators. By the 1950’s in North Georgia as in other areas, the influence of Monroe, the Stanley Brothers, Flatt & Scruggs and Jim & Jesse McReynolds was seeping into the Hillbilly or country music of the day.

The year 1965 brought the first ever multi-day Bluegrass Festival, held in Fincastle, VA. and by 1968 the core group of bluegrass fans in North Georgia had organized the very first such festival in Georgia, held in a transmission repair shop in Austell, GA. This was the first of dozens to follow. They ranged from small community events with a few amateur bands to large, well-established festivals featuring the best the genre had to offer. In the early 80’s the Southeastern Bluegrass Association was established to foster the music and the number of bluegrass bands was counted in the dozens. Bluegrass music was establishing it’s own tradition among the disciples in North Georgia.

Among the earliest, most dedicated and enthusiastic performers and promoters of the music in North Georgia are J. N. and Onie Baxter, Murray Freeman and James Watson.

J. N. and Ione (Onie) Baxter have been the nucleus of the Bluegrass Five for over 39 years. After marrying in 1954 the couple regularly made music with friends and neighbors wherever they were living. Onie learned mandolin and guitar as a small child and J. N. was a natural singer who learned guitar from his young wife in the early days of their marriage. Both had been introduced to the banjo, mandolin, guitar and fiddle but found themselves drawn more to the acoustic sound than to the electric guitars of their peers.

In 1961 the guitar playing couple joined with mandolin player Hughie Wylie, bassist Howard McGuire and banjo player Joe Will McGuire to make their version of bluegrass music. Two years later they were dubbed the Bluegrass Five by Howard McGuire.