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Bradley Kincaid Collection

Identifier: BCA 0014 -SAA 013


This collection contains correspondence, business records, photographs, news clippings, songbooks, and sheet music from radio ballad singer Bradley Kincaid. Collection sound recordings include interviews of Kincaid and his associates, a 1974 Kincaid performance at the Renfro Valley Traditional Music Festival, a 1974 recording of the song "Who Is Bradley Kincaid" composed and performed by Vince Matthews and Glen Sherley and copies of Kincaid's commercial 78 rpm discs (1928-1947).


  • Creation: 1856-1999
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1923-1949


Conditions Governing Access

Records can be accessed through the Reading Room, Berea College Special Collections and Archives, Hutchins Library, Berea College.

Conditions Governing Use

No restrictions other than federal copyright regulations. Please cite materials.

Biographical note

Bradley Kincaid was born at Point Leavell, Garrard County, Kentucky on July 13, 1895, the fourth of nine children. His parents, William and Elizabeth Hurt Kincaid, were the singers from whom he learned his first songs. His father, a farm laborer, once traded one of his foxhounds for a guitar, which young Kincaid learned to play. For many years he used this "Hound Dawg" guitar to entertain family and friends.

Kincaid attended Garrard County’s Back Creek School through fifth grade. He worked in a Louisville wheel shop and then on a farm until 1914 when at age 19, he entered the Berea College Foundation School as a sixth-grader. He left after the eighth grade to join the army, serving two years during World War I. For a brief period after the war, he worked as salesman for the Storrs-Schaefer Tailoring Company of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Kincaid soon resumed his education at Berea and it was during this time that his interest in music deepened. With the encouragement of Thomas Edwards, one of his teachers, he began systematically collecting ballads and songs. His search lead to several trips throughout the eastern part of the state and the material collected was eventually included in thirteen published songbooks.

Kincaid graduated from the Berea College Academy (high school) in 1921 at age 26. A year later he married his Berea music teacher, Irma Foreman, a graduate of Oberlin Conservatory of Music. He worked in Kentucky as a Y.M.C.A. district secretary for two years. He then moved to Chicago to attend Y.M.C.A. College (now known as George Williams College.)

Singing with a college quartet led to a 1928 solo audition for the National Barn Dance, a radio program heard widely throughout the Midwest on Chicago’s 50,000 watt WLS. He became a regular cast member on the program and was soon being billed as “the Kentucky Mountain Boy.” His renditions of “Barbara Allen” and other old ballads and songs learned while growing up in Kentucky, drew huge amounts of fan mail and lucrative opportunities for songbook sales and personal appearances in theaters and other venues.

After four years at WLS, he went on to have similar success on radio stations in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Boston and other cities. Among the musicians he partnered with during this period was Kentuckian, Louis Marshall “Grandpa” Jones. He made numerous commercial recordings for a variety of labels including Gennett, Brunswick, RCA, Decca and those companies’ subsidiaries in Canada, England, Ireland, Australia, and Japan.

In 1939, while at WHAM in Rochester, New York, he adopted a tent show format for much of his warm weather personal appearance work and continued what he called his “Radio Circus” throughout the remainder of his career. His last major radio work was on WSM’s Grand Ole Opry in Nashville from 1942-1947.

From Nashville he moved to Springfield, Ohio where his business efforts included successful stints as a radio station and music store-owner. Kincaid continued to issue commercial recordings well into the 1970s. He died September 23, 1989 in Springfield, Ohio at age 94.


19 ms_boxes

Language of Materials



The collection is arranged in eleven series:

Series 1: Printed Material

Series 2: Personal / Biographical

Series 3: Correspondence

Series 4: Business Records

Series 5: Book Manuscript

Series 6: Song Lyrics

Series 7: Sheet Music

Series 8: Songbooks

Series 9: Oversized Sheet Music

Series 10: Photographs

Series 11: Sound Recordings


Placed in the Southern Appalachian Archives in the summer of 1975, this collection was given to Berea College by Loyal Jones, who received it from Kincaid. Additional material collected by Jones from Kincaid and others was added in the summer of 1989.

Related Materials

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Finding Aid to the Bradley Kincaid collection
Harry Rice
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Berea College Special Collections and Archives Repository

Hutchins Library
100 Campus Drive
Berea Kentucky 40404 US