Four Musicians The G.I. Bill Put On Their Way
History lesson time – have you ever heard of Johnny Cash, Tito Puente, Harry Belafonte, or Dave Brubeck? Well they’re all famous musicians who changed music and got their start with the GI Bill when people listened to music on things called records. Check out their stories on this blog entry from the Houston Press. Maybe you’ll be the next game changing musician who gets his or her lucky break using the GI Bill.
Wednesday is the 65th anniversary of Franklin Roosevelt signing the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, better known to us as the G.I. Bill. Though the bill did many things, including unemployment compensation for veterans as well as home loans, it’s probably best known for helping soldiers pay for a college education. In 2008, the bill was revamped to expand the benefits to the full price of any public college in the beneficiaries’ home state, a housing allowance, and a stipend of $1,000 for books.
Most of us are aware of the sweet deal the U.S. government offers the brave men and women who risk being shot on its behalf, but you might not be aware of how much great music the world might have missed out on if the G.I. Bill hadn’t passed. It’s a pretty diverse group.
Johnny Cash started playing guitar as an airman in the U.S. Air Force, where he was stationed in San Antonio. An early version of “Folsom Prison Blues” was written during this period. Once he was out of the service, the G.I. Bill let him study broadcasting while playing in a country trio at night.