Hank Snow (AP Photo | Mark Humphrey)
The "country" in country music usually refers to the United States, but one of the most important voices in the history of country came to Nashville all the way from the Canadian town of Liverpool, Nova Scotia. Hank Snow, who would have turned 100 today, was born into crushing poverty, far from the stage lights and adoring crowds he came to know during his remarkable career as a songwriter and recording artist. Snow left home at age 12 to escape a physically and emotionally abusive stepfather and worked as a cabin boy on a fishing boat for four years, honing his musical and performing skills by playing for his shipmates. He got his first break in 1936 when he was hired to play his songs on a Halifax radio station for $10 a week, according to his Los Angeles Times obituary.
In the 1940s, American radio began playing his songs, including "I'm Moving On," "The Golden Rocket" and "The Rhumba Boogie," all of which became No. 1 hits. He also became famous for his rendition of the Geoff Mack classic "I've Been Everywhere."
In 1950 the former cabin boy from Nova Scotia finally played the Grand Ole Opry, and he soon became a regular. He toured extensively in support of his many singles and albums, and throughout his multidecade career sold upward of 80 million albums. Decked out in sequin-studded suits and performing to packed houses, Snow was worlds away from his humble beginnings.
Snow retired from performing in 1996 because of respiratory illness, and died in 1999 of heart failure. But his music is still going everywhere.
Written by Seth Joseph. Find him on Google+.