It is taking longer than expected to fetch the next song to play. The music should be playing soon. If you get tired of waiting, you can try reloading your browser.

Please check our Help page for information about troubleshooting Pandora on your browser.

Please ensure you are using the latest Flash Player.

If you are unable or do not wish to upgrade your Flash Player,
please try a different browser.

Please check our Help page for information about troubleshooting Pandora on your browser.
Your Pandora Plus subscription will expire shortly.
More Info
No Thanks
Your Pandora Plus trial will expire shortly.
Your Pandora Plus trial subscription will expire shortly. Upgrade to continue unlimited, ad-free listening.
Upgrade Now
You've listened to hours of Pandora this month. Consider upgrading to Pandora Plus.
More Info
No Thanks
Hi . Pandora is using Facebook to personalize your experience. Learn MoreNo Thanks
 Upgrade  sign up   |   help   |  
Change Skin

Free personalized radio that
plays the music you love

Now Playing
Music Feed
My Profile
Create a Station
People who also like this

Tennessee Ernie Ford

The booming baritone voice of Tennessee Ernie Ford was best known for his 1955 cover of Merle Travis' grim coal-mining song "Sixteen Tons," watered down by the dulcet strains of a Hollywood studio orchestra but retaining its innate seriousness thanks to the sheer power of Ford's singing. But there was more to Tennessee Ernie Ford than that. Over his long career, Ford sang everything from proto-rock & roll to gospel, recorded over 100 albums, and earned numerous honors and awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award. His popularity and recognition transcended country music, and he was among the earliest and most successful "crossover" artists to come out of country music, paving the way for such diverse popular culture figures as Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Reba McEntire, and many more.

Born Ernest Jennings Ford in 1919, he was a native of Bristol, TN, a town that subsequently came to be regarded -- thanks to the Ralph Peer field recording sessions (featuring Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family) conducted there in 1927 -- as one of the birthplaces of modern country music. He started singing as a boy and, after graduating from high school, became a voice student at Virginia Intermount College. The latter was officially a women's college but admitted a limited number of male students to its daytime study program, and it was with the help of one of his teachers and her husband that Ford, with his deep and resonant voice, broke into radio, as an announcer on WOPI in northeast Tennessee. By 1939, he'd moved to Cincinnati, OH, and was studying at that city's Conservatory of Music. He moved around the country in the year leading up to America's entry into World War II, holding announcer jobs in Atlanta, Georgia, and Knoxville, TN. Following America's entry into World War II with the attack on Pearl Harbor, Ford enlisted in the United States Army in early 1942 and was assigned to the U.S. Army Air Corps, which kept him stateside, serving in Alabama and later in California, where he was posted to a bomberdier school. His talent wasn't dormant during this period, and he was able to participate in various special services entertainment programs.

After the war, Ford -- who had married while serving in the military -- moved his family to San Bernardino, CA, and took a DJ job on a local radio station. It was there that he first took on the name "Tennessee Ernie," which became the focus of his comedic on-air persona, a kind of good-hearted bumpkin who was smarter than he let on and funnier (and more eccentric) than he seemingly knew; in some respects, "Tennessee Ernie" was a bit like some of the more benign rural characters that had been essayed in the movies by Walter Brennan. In reality, Ford had extraordinary flexibility and range, so much so that some employers and potential employers in radio were astonished to learn that they were drawing on the services of a vast array of "characters" and personas -- he could speak and sing in a magnificent, full-bodied baritone that would have been the envy of many an operatic singer, but he had an array of twangy, Southern- (and distinctly rustic Southern) inflected voices that he used, along with catch phrases that quickly got picked up by his listening audience, in Pasadena and Los Angeles. He was almost a one-man radio network and cast at one point on KXLA, and drawing an ever-larger audience. In 1947 he also made the acquaintance of Cliffie Stone, a musician, announcer, and producer who was rapidly becoming one of the most influential figures in country music on the West Coast. Initially, Ford appeared on Stone's Hometown Jamboree, which started on radio and moved to television later in the 1940s, and in 1948 Stone brought him to Capitol Records, the beginning of a relationship that would last for 40 years, covering the rest of the singer's life.

Five singles had been released by late 1949, including "Tennessee Border" and "Smokey Mountain Boogie" (both Top Ten) and his first number one single, "Mule Train." His Western songs and boogie-flavored numbers offered an energy level and sexual suggestiveness that made them rock & roll in all but name, and his recordings featured the fabulous instrumental talents of Merle Travis on guitar and Speedy West on pedal steel. Early in 1951, "Shotgun Boogie" became his second number one, spending 14 weeks at the top of the country charts. By the beginning of 1953, although Ford wasn't having as many hits, he remained popular in America and also in England. He became a television quizmaster in 1954, hosting NBC's presentation of Kay Kyser's Kollege of Musical Knowledge. He also had his own daily show and continued recording. A series of appearances on I Love Lucy (then one of the top-rated shows in the country) as "Cousin Ernie" in two 1954 episodes was so funny and so popular that he made a follow-up appearance the next year on the same series in the identical role, using his comedic rural country persona. These performances only helped him maintain and broaden crossover appeal, and at the same time he was a downright ubiquitous figure on country music variety shows of the period, including the Old American Barn Dance. On many of these programs, he was billed simply as "Tennessee Ernie," owing to the fact that producers felt that using his last name would promote a car company that wasn't necessarily a sponsor. The public was never confused, however, and knew exactly who he was. He also contributed to movies as a singer. As early as 1946 he'd shown up uncredited as a hillbilly performer in the multi-Academy Award-winning drama The Best Years of Our Lives, but a decade later his presence in movies was a selling point, as with his performance of the title song over the credits of the Marilyn Monroe/Robert Mitchum adventure film River of No Return in 1954, which became a pop hit. And all of these activities serve to illustrate Ford's extraordinary range as a singer and performer, of music and comedy, and an appeal that cut across regional and cultural -- and even national -- lines. And although his hits tended to be written by others, he also composed songs, including "Hogtied Over You," "Kiss Me Big," and "Softly and Tenderly."

Ford had two Top Ten country hits in 1955 with "The Ballad of Davy Crockett" and his biggest success, "Sixteen Tons," which spent ten weeks at number one on the country charts and eight weeks at number one on the pop charts. From 1956 to 1965 he was a primetime network television host, making "Bless your little pea-pickin' hearts" a household catch phrase and providing powerful exposure for Ford's increasingly middle-of-the-road music. For all of his occasionally risqué lyrics and humor, Ford also had a seriously religious side to his work and persona, and his voice was ideally suited to big arrangements of traditional hymns. His first gospel album, Hymns (1956), became the first religious album to go gold, while his second gospel album, Great Gospel Songs, earned him a Grammy. He was immensely popular as the 1960s commenced and remained a popular fixture on television for most of that decade, and his recordings were as ambitious as they were successful. We Gather Together, a 1963 release made with the San Quentin Prison Choir, was the first recording ever made at the prison. A year after that -- a period in which he issued two more religious-oriented albums, one a Christmas recording and the other a gospel collection cut with the Jordanaires -- he released Country Hits - Feelin' Blue, a back-to-basics recording on which Ford, backed solely by Billy Strange on guitar and John Mosher on bass, ran through a dozen country music standards; the latter is regarded by many fans as the best country LP of Ford's career. In 1965, he had his last major chart entry with the Top Ten single "Hicktown," but he continued to record gospel music and the occasional country album over the next two decades, interspersed with an album of patriotic songs in 1970 and a folk album the following year. He began working with Cliffie Stone's son Steve Stone early in that decade, which led to a revival of his presence on the sales charts with Country Morning, released in 1973, which yielded a brace of new singles including one hit, "Printers Alley Stars." His most enduring album of the decade, however, was Ernie Sings & Glen Picks, released in 1975; cut with Glen Campbell, it was similar to Country Hits - Feelin' Blue from 12 years before as a stripped-down country effort, and it not only sold well at the time but found a new audience as a CD in the 1990s. Ford joined the ranks of the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1990, at age 71. By that time, he was a beloved and somewhat enigmatic elder statesman in the field, having willingly stepped out of the limelight apart from the occasional gospel recording. The first serious reissues of his music began appearing on CD in 1990, starting with Rhino Records' 16 Tons of Boogie: The Best of Tennessee Ernie Ford, which covered material going back to his early honky tonk sound, and collections of his gospel recordings began appearing from Capitol during this same period. At the time of his death from liver failure in the fall of 1991, he remained a much-loved figure far beyond the boundaries of the country music audience. ~ James Manheim & Bruce Eder
full bio

Selected Discography


Track List: Back Where I Belong (Digitally Remastered)

1. This Old Heart Is (Gonna Rise Again)

2. A Legend in His Mind

3. Tell Me You Remember, Betty Jean

4. Get a Little Dirt on Your Hands

5. Born to Lose

6. Raised by the Railroad Line

7. Piece of the Rock

8. Homegrown Man (Made in America)

9. (It's Over) Nobody Wins

10. Old Fashioned Love


Track List: Sings Civil War Songs Of The North

1. The Army Of The Free

2. Virginia's Bloody Soil

3. Marching Song (Of The First Arkansas Negro Regiment)

4. The Why And The Wherefore

5. The Vacant Chair

6. The Fall Of Charleston

7. The New York Volunteer

8. The Faded Coat Of Blue

9. Marching Through Georgia

10. Just Before The Battle, Mother

11. The Girl I Left Behind Me

12. Union Dixie


Track List: Rock City Boogie

1. I've Got The Milk 'em In The Morning Blues

2. Tennessee Border

3. Philadelphia Lawyer

4. Country Junction

5. Smokey Mountain Boogie

6. Anticipation Blues

7. Mule Train

8. The Cry Of The Wild Goose

10. I'll Never Be Free

11. Ain't Nobody's Business But My Own

12. Cincinnati Dancing Pig

13. Bright Lights And Blond Haired Women

14. I Ain't Gonna Let It Happen No More

15. Shot-Gun Boogie

16. Tailor Made Woman

17. She's My Baby

18. Mister And Mississippi

19. You're My Sugar

20. Rock City Boogie

21. Streamlined Cannonball

22. Kissin' Bug Boogie

23. Woman Is A Five Letter Word

24. Hey Good Lookin'

25. Cool Cool Kisses

26. Blackberry Boogie

27. I'm Hog Tied Over You

28. Hey, Mr. Cotton Picker

29. Catfish Boogie

30. I Don't Know


Track List: Best Of The Best - Gospel

1. What A Friend We Have In Jesus

2. How Great Thou Art

3. Take My Hand, Precious Lord

4. Precious Memories

5. When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder

6. Nearer, My God, To Thee

7. Whispering Hope

8. In The Garden

9. Shall We Gather At The River

10. Sweet Hour Of Prayer


Track List: The Ultimate Collection

Disc 1

1. Tennessee Border #1

2. Milk 'Em In The Morning Blues

3. Country Junction

4. Smokey Mountain Boogie

5. Anticipation Blues

6. Blues Stay Away From Me

7. Mule Train

8. Feed 'Em In The Morning Blues

9. My Hobby

10. The Cry Of The Wild Goose

11. Ain't Nobody's Business But My Own

12. I'll Never Be Free

13. Bright Lights And Blonde Haired Women

14. The Shot-Gun Boogie

15. Stack-O-Lee

16. Tailor Made Woman

17. The Strange Little Girl

18. Mister And Mississippi

19. Rock City Boogie

20. Kissin' Bug Boogie

Disc 2

1. Hey, Good Lookin'

3. I Don't Know

4. This Must Be The Place

5. River Of No Return

6. The Ballad Of Davy Crockett

7. His Hands

8. Sixteen Tons

10. That's All

12. Sweet Dreams

13. Hicktown

14. Trouble In Mind

15. Sweet Hour Of Prayer

16. Softly And Tenderly

17. The Old Rugged Cross

18. Rock Of Ages

19. When God Dips His Love In My Heart

20. Just A Little Talk With Jesus


Track List: Greatest Hits: His Original Capitol Recordings

1. Sixteen Tons

2. Ballad Of Davy Crockett

3. Mule Train

4. The Cry Of The Wild Goose

5. Shot Gun Boogie

6. Mister And Mississippi

7. That's All

9. In The Middle Of An Island


Track List: Capitol Collectors Series

1. Tennessee Border #1

2. Country Junction

3. Smoky Mountain Boogie

4. Mule Train

5. Anticipation Blues

6. The Cry Of The Wild Goose

7. I'll Never Be Free

8. Ain't Nobody's Business But My Own

9. The Shotgun Boogie

10. Tailor Made Woman

11. I'm A Bad Man

12. The Strange Little Girl

13. Mister And Mississippi (2009)

14. Kissin' Bug Boogie

15. Blackberry Boogie

16. I'm Hog Tied Over You

17. I Don't Know

18. Hey, Mr. Cotton Picker

19. Celebratin'

20. Catfish Boogie

21. The Honeymoon's Over

22. River Of No Return

23. Ballad Of Davy Crockett

24. His Hands

25. Sixteen Tons

26. Nine Pound Hammer

27. That's All

28. In The Middle Of An Island

29. Hicktown


Track List: All-Time Greatest Hymns

1. Softly And Tenderly

2. In The Garden

3. The Old Rugged Cross

4. When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder

5. Sweet Hour Of Prayer

6. Shall We Gather At The River

7. The Church In The Wildwood

8. How Great Thou Art

9. Whispering Hope

10. Bringing In The Sheaves

11. All Hail The Power

13. There Is Power In The Blood

14. What A Friend We Have In Jesus


Report as inappropriate
Ernie was my stepfather uncle. He told me a lot of cool things about him.☺
Report as inappropriate
Great things out of Tennessee, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Elvis Presley, and oh my Lord. So many great Christian and country music I could never list them all! Amen
Report as inappropriate
Love listening to TEF,blesses my little pea pick in' heart.
Report as inappropriate
Ernie did not compose Softly & Tenderly, although he did record it.. A quick google search showed it to be hymn written in 1880 by Will L.Thompson.
Report as inappropriate
We live in an old coalmining town named coupon pa
Report as inappropriate
Probably one of my favorite country singers. I just wish that they had his civil war albums on here
Report as inappropriate
Can't hear enough of Tennessee Ernie Ford. My favorite
Report as inappropriate
One of my moms favorite
Report as inappropriate
One of my all time favorites
Report as inappropriate
One of the very best voices ever! Also so very funny on I LOVE LUCY and his other TV appearances.
Report as inappropriate
I love is songs go to church
Report as inappropriate
phoenixmommy 5 4 8
An old time favorite of mine...
Report as inappropriate
Hmmm! The "Great Daddy" Of This Beautiful Music!
Report as inappropriate
These performers were the greatest ever. No one can match them today or ever
Report as inappropriate
Dàñíelodo ell
Report as inappropriate
Report as inappropriate
The voice of Kay Starr is what makes this song, but she's not mentioned.
Report as inappropriate
Tennessee Ernie Ford was right at the top of my dad's favorites ... no doubt that my hearing his gifted voice sing those grand old hymns contributed to my coming to know Jesus!
Report as inappropriate
Ernie ford was my moms favorate what a singer Ernie had the album hymns in 1956 that was on the billboard top 100 for over 140 weeks!!!!!!! ! Ernie sang a gospel song like Andy willams would sing a Christmas song or Sinatra would sing a love song. He had a gift to sing gods music there will never be another Ernie ford
Report as inappropriate
Yeah every body better like him!:)
Report as inappropriate
I've heard his song since I was little, and as I get older I appreciate his music any other Gospel singer's. Thank you Pandora for making it possible for gospel lovers to hear these music in this falling society.
Report as inappropriate
love his music and the acting
Report as inappropriate


Report as inappropriate
I heard that Ernie Ford, in later years, lived in a small rural town called Idaho City, Idaho and was just one of the folks to the towns people. Can anyone verify this?
Report as inappropriate
I grew up with Ernie & his boys. My Father was his ranch manager for 17 yrs. I would love to touch base with Jeff (Buck) Ford if anyone knows how to get in touch with him. I tried his Gmail Acct. with no success.
Report as inappropriate
Picture on the album is the hair like Elvis, was a fad in those days, hey me too, but never as good. Remember the shoes too, platforms..! :o))
Report as inappropriate
Ernie Ford was born in 1919 died in 1991 never will be forgotting he play in i love I lucy he play Tennessee erine ford
Report as inappropriate
Ernie Ford is the living personificat i o n of when he was born, they broke the mold. He showed a great side of life in his characters, his humor and his slice of music. Wish he had more like him.
Report as inappropriate
Ernie Ford was my Moms favorate,wha t a singer. Ernie had the album Hymns in 1956 that was on the Billboard top 100 for over 140 weeks!!! Ernie sang a Gospel song like Andy Williams would sing a Christmas song,or Sinatra would sing a love song. He had a gift to sing GOD's MUSIC. There will never be another Ernie Ford.
Report as inappropriate
Great song it's sad my generation doesn't have this good of music
Report as inappropriate
There is power in the blood to save your soul from hell
Report as inappropriate
I am seeking an old Gospel song, Whispering Hope. Re:jrs1ky@ya h o o . c o m
Report as inappropriate
Gosh, I think we all loved Ernie, especially when he sang the gospels. It was so natural to see him on the TV or hear him sing that if he would had walked in the front door and said, bless your pee pickin' heart! How are ya? Let's have a 'cup-a-joe' and talk about it :)
Report as inappropriate
Tennessee Ernie Ford was one of the greatest vocilists of all time. His hits, such as Sixteen Ton will long be remembered. But his hymns will remain, to me ,the absolute best ever sung by anyone.
Report as inappropriate
Report as inappropriate
erne ford is the best singer about saids mrblackie the black cat
Report as inappropriate
He had an amazing voice!
Report as inappropriate
I was raised in a litlle cafe & Bar in the 50's and I would set beside the Juke Box and listen to Tennessee when we got the new releases. It will always be an important part of my musical experience. As one of his hits says "Precious Memories."
Report as inappropriate
Report as inappropriate
I like Tennessee Ernie Ford's music.
Report as inappropriate
Enjoyed Ernie and Mollie Bee when visiting Hometown Jamboree in Los Angeles in the early 50's and his TV show later. Anyone who isn't moved
by his gospel singing is dead in his soul.
Report as inappropriate
I remember when did his TV show on our ship, the USS Yorktown, in 1960 or 1961. I was a fan long before then, but his consideratio n and friendliness aboard ship was more than I expected. He was always first class.
Report as inappropriate
I have been listening to Tennessee Ernie Ford most of my 64 years. He has always been one of my favorite singers.
Report as inappropriate
I will be 70 in a couple months. I remember seeing him on the "I Love Lucy" TV program. He has a wonderful voice, especially for hymns.
Report as inappropriate
I've loved him since I was a little girl,and always will. I'm only 70 now. He's the greatest! Janice Kennaday
Report as inappropriate
Tennessee is certainly one of the greatest among the gifted singers. That he kept mostly to country and gospel music makes him simpatic to me, he might have had a staedy personality, which makes him lovable to many. One must simply love him.
Cherio, Harald Sorensen
Report as inappropriate
This has to be one of Jim's saddest. He was sooooo great.
Report as inappropriate
Peace in the Valley
Report as inappropriate
to me tennesee ernie ford is sunday afternoon and that is the best.
Report as inappropriate
Love the voice!Noe better in the Gospel hymns!

Don't have a Pandora account? Sign up

We're sorry, but a browser plugin or firewall may be preventing Pandora from loading.

In order to use Pandora internet radio, please upgrade to a more current browser.

Please check our Help page for more information.

It looks like your browser does not support modern SSL/TLS. Please upgrade your browser.

If you need help, please email:

In order to use Pandora internet radio, please upgrade to a more current browser
or install a newer version of Flash (v.10 or later).

In order to use Pandora internet radio, please install Adobe Flash (v.10 or later).

[110, 125, 67, 91, 88, 104, 84, 70, 125, 101, 64, 64, 74, 122, 116, 88, 102, 75, 85, 74, 117, 106, 111, 94, 75, 96, 74, 127, 65, 102, 109, 97, 101, 88, 87, 96, 77, 103, 114, 80, 106, 122, 81, 68, 64, 85, 112, 122, 114, 80, 92, 106, 93, 99, 114, 111, 85, 93, 73, 121, 119, 86, 100, 94, 123, 65, 90, 102, 76, 70, 112, 98, 95, 113, 70, 114, 75, 69, 85, 116, 110, 74, 65, 127, 121, 110, 77, 112, 91, 101, 64, 102, 67, 121, 83, 127, 90, 108, 92, 98, 119, 80, 116, 123, 126, 81, 101, 122, 125, 93, 79, 103, 96, 110, 86, 74, 105, 105, 108, 123, 97, 115, 101, 124, 110, 106, 75, 75, 107, 109, 101, 79, 106, 89, 106, 95, 99, 106, 124, 109, 79, 127, 93, 65, 88, 65, 99, 126, 101, 100, 114, 69, 71, 103, 80, 98, 116, 112, 70, 124, 97, 111, 104, 110, 91, 118, 70, 87, 70, 127, 115, 114, 77, 105, 108, 107, 96, 107, 91, 97, 89, 77, 77, 82, 79, 127, 90, 82, 91, 86, 106, 104, 65, 125, 97, 93, 79, 89, 82, 103, 65, 85, 96, 82, 71, 93, 95, 106, 127, 123, 66, 89, 86, 124, 107, 109, 80, 124, 84, 88, 82, 109, 74, 109, 66, 127, 97, 87, 127, 99, 118, 83, 97, 120, 71, 126, 76, 81, 127, 99, 106, 107, 88, 106, 85, 77, 118, 70, 71, 84, 117, 91, 65, 108, 99, 74, 118, 76, 77, 70, 81, 71, 75, 84, 79, 98, 98, 98, 106, 117, 94, 81, 126, 69, 123, 96, 75, 96, 114, 78, 79, 79, 96, 80, 93, 110, 82, 68, 67, 112, 73, 127, 124, 113, 109, 105, 82, 90, 72, 119, 68, 69, 89, 90, 107, 78, 90, 108, 73, 101, 93, 117, 126, 115, 96, 110, 98, 82, 72, 110, 95, 69, 82, 78, 69, 122, 82, 75, 100, 108, 106, 103, 92, 111, 85, 93, 105, 94, 82, 103, 123, 71, 114, 108, 111, 87, 123, 74, 94, 127, 121, 68, 113, 67, 77, 118, 101, 92, 99, 69, 88, 104, 100, 108, 64, 68, 85, 93, 95, 107, 90, 76, 99, 108, 116, 74, 96, 75, 125, 122, 95, 123, 66, 110, 93, 99, 122, 115, 74, 122, 91, 109, 93, 114, 105, 123, 103, 127, 77, 95, 82, 71, 100, 87, 124, 81, 85, 116, 71, 97, 92, 95, 110, 122, 81, 70, 65, 116, 101, 118, 126, 98, 101, 123, 80, 87, 71, 112, 110, 91, 84, 105, 68, 94, 72, 94, 92, 119, 102, 96, 65, 77, 82, 112, 112, 112, 66, 84, 97, 71, 119, 104, 108, 106, 66, 80, 104, 118, 122, 78, 72, 117, 70, 122, 96, 84, 97, 76, 115, 119, 102, 100, 113, 104, 73, 116, 86, 93, 123, 75, 119, 82, 67, 97, 71, 125, 106, 76, 110, 108, 101, 109, 80, 66, 79, 91, 84, 107, 118, 83, 85, 86, 90, 99, 113, 72, 74, 123, 109, 104, 65, 115]