Airport artwork honors first black Opry performer - WSMV Channel 4

Airport artwork honors first black Opry performer

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

We honor Black History Month by remembering DeFord Bailey, the first African-American Opry performer.

Bailey started out performing on the Barn Dance Show, which later turned into the Grand Ole Opry.

He was dubbed "The Harmonica Wizard" for his famous train song Pan American Blues and for his unique ability to mimic a train whistle with his harmonica.

Bailey's family says he was a humble man who was devoted to his music and perfecting his sound.

"He said he stood by a train trestle every day about 5 o'clock, waiting for this train to come. And he just picked it up as this train, locomotive, crossed this bridge," said daughter Dezoral Thomas.

Bailey's work is honored at the Nashville International Airport, as a piece of colorful wall art in the lobby is actually a soundwave of his famous train whistle.

Bailey, a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, died in 1982 at 82 years old.

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