Among the many styles of blues that were birthed among the various North American regions, Piedmont blues in the Atlantic Coastal Plain and Appalachian mountains in Georgia and Virginia was one of the most renowned (OnMusic Companion). The melancholic yet spiritual nature of the blues allowed it to thrive in its various forms, from rural towns to the biggest of cities. What differentiates the Piedmont blues from the other songs of its kind goes beyond the origin; Atlanta blues specifically was known for its more gentle fingerpicking style on guitar with lighter vocal tones (OnMusic Companion). The expeditious growth of Atlanta’s population and music recording industry allowed this blues style to thrive, laying down the foundation and legacy of the “Hotlanta” we know today.
Atlanta blues came to prominence in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Artists like Peg Leg Howell, Blind Boy Fuller, duetists Blind Willie Mctell and Curley Weaver, and the Georgia Cotton Pickers were some of the first artists to work with record labels in Atlanta. Competition was fierce for exposure and recording deals as rural musicians migrated to the city(AllMusic). While Piedmont blues were popular in Alabama and Virginia, the recording scene in Atlanta put them all in its shadow. “Songs like Georgia Rag” and “Thousand Woman Blues” were some of the most popular, and in these songs the delicate picking of the guitar and gentle singing can easily be recognized. As shown by the prominence of songs and artists, “Hotlanta” is nothing new!
We know Atlanta to be a powerhouse of both the filming and music industry today. The R&B, rap, and hip-hop scene of our current era would not exist without the rich and vast history of music in Atlanta stemming from Piedmont blues.