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The Bailes Brothers


The Bailes Brothers, among the best country music performers of the 1940s, were the first West Virginians to become Grand Ole Opry stars. Born and reared in Kanawha County, Kyle (1915–96), Johnnie (1918–89), Walter (1920–2000), and Homer (1922-2013) struggled with their widowed mother to survive the Depression, and became increasingly inspired by the music they heard on radio and in church. As musicians the four brothers rarely worked together, but usually as duets. They played a variety of stringed instruments, and all of them sang. Known for their sincere emotional style, the brothers composed many secular and sacred songs.

After playing for several years on various West Virginia radio stations, they moved to WSM Nashville and the Opry in October 1944. The following year they began recording for Columbia and later King, with ‘‘Dust On the Bible’’ and ‘‘I Want to be Loved’’ being two of their best original songs. Later, Walter composed ‘‘Give Mother My Crown,’’ which became a Flatt and Scruggs classic. Late in 1946, the Bailes Brothers moved to KWKH Shreveport. First Walter, and later Homer, left music for the ministry, but they all continued to perform intermittently over the years. The Bailes Brothers were inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame in 2009.

Written by Abby Gail Goodnite


  1. Tribe, Ivan M. Mountaineer Jamboree: Country Music in West Virginia. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1984.