Hank Williams is considered by many to be the godfather of country music-a legendary character who lived fast and died young, at the age of 29 in 1953.
He enjoyed wide commercial success for the last few years of his life, and he's since become a mythical figure, referenced often in American popular culture. Even while he was still alive some of Williams' songs had begun to appeal to others across the genre divide of what was then often called "hillbilly music," and pop-jazz performers such as Rosemary Clooney, Jo Stafford, and Louis Armstrong began to record covers of his tunes.
In recent years singers Cassandra Wilson, Norah Jones, and Madeleine Peyroux have also included songs by Williams on their records. "The Hank Williams Songbook" features all of these artists, as well as several of Ray Charles' Williams interpretations from both volumes of his Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music.
Special thanks to Frank Lipsik and other members of the Yahoo Songbirds listserv, and to Greg Adams.
Watch Norah Jones perform Williams' tune "Cold, Cold Heart":