Monroe, Bill (William Smith Monroe), 1911–96, country singer, musician, and songwriter, often called the "father of bluegrass," b. Rosine, Ky. A mandolin and guitar player, Monroe founded the Blue Grass Boys in 1938, and the group began playing country and western music that mixed rural string-playing, folk ballads, blues, and white gospel–a style later known as bluegrass. Featuring Monroe's high tenor voice and virtuoso mandolin along with the fiddle, bass, guitar, and banjo, the band became known for its beautiful harmonies and driving rhythms. From 1945 on the group made a series of popular recordings, including New Muleskinner Blues and Kentucky Waltz. Monroe's own songs include Blue Moon of Kentucky and I Hear a Sweet Voice Calling. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1970 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.
See biography by R. D. Smith (2000); N. V. Rosenberg, Bluegrass: A History (1985); Rooney, J., Bossmen: Bill Monroe and Muddy Waters (1991); T. Ewing, ed., The Bill Monroe Reader (2000); The Music of Bill Monroe: From 1936 to 1994 (4 CDs, 1994); High Lonesome: The Story of Bluegrass Music (documentary film, 1994).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.