Monday, 3 January 2011

Nashville stars with Ulster-Scots roots (1)

Quite a number of country music stars have Ulster-Scots roots, including Nashville's first lady of country, Dolly Parton, who grew up in the Great Smoky Mountains.  Her father Robert Lee Parton could trace his roots back to the early settlers and her maternal uncle Bill Owens said, 'My family comes from Scotch-Irish descent'.

When she performed in Belfast in 2002 Dolly Parton said, 'With my Scotch-Irish ancestry its ridiculous that I haven't been here before.  Obviously my roots have been a massive influence on my music.'

Ricky Skaggs, who has won fourteen Grammy Awards, is another country music star with Ulster-Scots roots.

He said, 'My family on my mother's side were Scots-Irish - they were Fergusons who left Limavady and East Donegal for America in the early part of the 18th century.  They eventually moved to Kentucky where I grew up with a real taste for bluegrass music which has its origins in the north of Ireland and Scotland.'

Ricky Skaggs is one of the foremost exponents of bluegrass music and he is absolutely clear in his statement that bluegrass has its roots across the Atlantic in Ulster and Scotland.

  • Belfast Telegraph 24 November 2002
  • Billy Kennedy, The Scots-Irish in the Hills of Tennessee: 1995

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