Country Music--Always Changing & Growing
It’s time to look at the Country music genre.
This extremely popular genre started in the southern part of the U.S. in the Appalachian Mountains in the early 1920’s (earlier known as Hillbilly music). It started as a mixture of very old “public domain” songs (songs completed before copyrighting), older blues standards, jazz, and newly blended instruments. In the past, a lot of music was played on instruments like the acoustic guitar and piano. The fiddle (violin) was added in this era and that alone gave it a new sound (combined with the traditional ones). In the years before that, piano and violin were mainly recognized for their use in symphony and opera music. Now in addition to all of this, add in some popular instruments of the time including jugs, harmonica, and banjo ---and you have yourself the beginning of a new musical genre adored by millions of fans all over the world today. This genre became popular with the working-class Americans who would usually listen to it accompanied by some moonshine… and that made for a real good time!
The United States government actually recognized Bristol, Tennessee as the “Birthplace of Country Music”. Widely known in the country music community, this genre had quite a few musical changes over the years that made it into the mature, solid, sound of today. Let’s break the era’s of change down into an abridged version of the history of country music. The 1st (1920’s), 2nd (1930’s), 3rd (1940 – 50’s), 4th (1970’s – 80’s), 5th (1990’s), and 6th (2000 – present).
• The 1st was basically figuring out how to sleuth everything together… trial and error of what sounded good. Naturally over time the sound was more familiar to people.
• The 2nd was honing the skills and vocals – essentially combining genres for barn dance tunes and other live performances.
• The 3rd was where string bands and bluegrass started to be incorporated into the sound. Gospel music also became very popular at this time. They would become genres all their own.
• The 4th was a sort of renaissance time for country music with stars like the great John Denver, Merle Haggard, Mac Davis, Johnny Cash, June Carter, Loretta Lyn, Dolly Parton, and the list goes on and on. These stars (and a lot more) were all considered the pioneers for creating today’s Country music sound. Outlaw Country was also firmly creating its own musical style at this time with greats like Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Johnny Cash.
• The 5th generation made country music extremely popular by mixing pop and country together. Some of these stars include Vince Gill, Garth Brooks, Dixie Chicks, Reba McEntire, Tim McGraw, The Judds, Toby Keith, and the list goes on. In this generation, Shania Twain’s record “The Woman in Me” sold over 10 million copies which made her the first female artist to accomplish this!
• The 6th generation – from the start of the 2000’s to present day continues to cultivate and combines different genres together. Country music is not heavily influenced by pop and rock. Great examples of how this sounds include music from Florida Georgia Line, Taylor Swift, Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts, Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban, Alison Krauss, and many more.
So, when you hear Country music on the radio or your device, now you know the journey of this great musical genre. Now go out and catch a show or learn to line dance!