Their harmony was exceptional, a rarity some say only brothers can produce. Jim's enhanced high tenor combined with Jesse's deep lead and unique mandolin style set this duo apart in the world of traditional music, now termed Bluegrass. Very early in their career, Jesse developed a "McReynolds style" technique on the mandolin, combining his invention of "crosspicking and split-string playing", which distinguished his picking from others. Many have imitated, but few have successfully mastered his unique style of fast execution of intricate melodic patterns.
In 1952, Jim & Jesse debuted on their first major label, Capitol Records. Since that time, they have recorded for various labels including: Columbia, Epic, again for Capitol, Opryland, CMH, Rounder, and their own, Old Dominion. In 1960, their first single for Columbia, "The Flame of Love" backed by "Gosh I Miss You All The Time" spent weeks climbing the top 100 national charts. "Cotton Mill Man", "Diesel On My Tail", "Are You Missing Me", and "Paradise" are a few songs regarded as Jim & Jesse classics.
They were backed by their band, The Virginia Boys, always top-notch musicians featuring various traditional acoustic instruments: guitar (Jim), mandolin (Jesse), five-string banjo, fiddle and bass. During their career they had toured all 50 states with the exception of Alaska, and have traveled worldwide including: Canada, Mexico, Japan, Europe, The British Isles, and Africa in 1985, for the U.S. State Department.
In the late '50's and early '60's, most of their live weekly radio and television shows throughout the southeast, were sponsored by Martha White Mills. They also sponsored a portion of The Grand Ole Opry, and invited Jim & Jesse as guest hosts. This led to their membership on March 2, 1964 and their move to Gallatin, TN, near Nashville, in 1964.