Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)


Appalachian Studies

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Lee Bidgood

Committee Members

Roy Andrade, Marie Tedesco, Ted Olson


Perhaps no melody in the country music canon has been as widely recognized and borrowed from as that of the song “The Great Speckled Bird.” This significant song has become resonant and representative of both country music culture and religious culture of the Protestant South.

Through this historiographical study, I have traced the influences that helped shape “The Great Speckled Bird” and in so doing have illustrated distinct movements that led to popularizing the non-secular song through commercial country music. The composer’s use of sentimentality, neo- traditionalism, and religious ideas made it appealing to a rural southern culture struggling with the social, racial, and economic changes of the early twentieth century. As I develop and explore the diverse influences that helped to shape “The Great Speckled Bird,” I will illustrate the interconnectedness of country music culture and the wider popular and religious cultures of the white Protestant South.

Document Type

Thesis - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.