Appalachian writer, poet and artist Emma Bell Miles’ Some Real American Music is required reading for any dedicated country, bluegrass or folk fan.
Born in Evansville, Ind., Miles moved to Red Bank, Tenn. as a child. She and her family later relocated to what is known today as Signal Mountain, Tenn. She studied art in St. Louis before returning to her beloved Appalachia, where she fell in love and married Frank Miles.
A primary source of income for the Miles’ was often short stories and poems Emma sold to magazines like Harper’s Weekly. She is best known for her 1905 book, “The Spirit of the Mountain.” Emma died in 1919, and her prose piece on country music was long forgotten until journalist Nick Tosches’ “Country: The Twisted Roots of Rock ‘n’ Roll” was released in 1977. Tosches calls Some Real American Music “the most beautiful prose written of country music.”