That High Lonesome Voice

The country brother duos like the Everly Brothers and their predecessors are often described as having a “high lonesome voice.” Wayne Erbsen, in Origins & History of Bluegrass Article-Native Ground Music, makes the case that this vocal style is related to the Scots-Irish (or Scotch-Irish, as my mountain relatives always say) way of singing the old ballads, most notable among the women. Bill and Charlie Monroe of the Monroe Brothers, and later of Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys, sang in the tight vocal style of their Scotch-Irish ancestors. The same vocal style can be heard among many of the other country brother duets of the 1930s, such as the Delmore Brothers and the Blue Sky Boys, as well as in later duos like the Louvin Brothers and Everly Brothers.

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