Country music is America’s signature. Anyone from around the world would be quick to associate country music with the United States, and that’s because it has been around almost as long as jazz, and had perpetual popularity ever since it first emerged. Whether or not you prefer country to other genres, it is important to recognize the effects it has had on the mainstream music scene.
While jazz seemed to gravitate toward urban regions, country gained popularity at first in the rural regions of America. The first country music came out in the 1920s borrowing from Appalachian folk music and blues from the south. Early country used many of the same instruments used in folk and blues, including banjos, guitars, fiddles, and harmonicas. In the 1940s, country was officially separate from folk, and often referred to as “hillbilly music.” Later, in the 50s and 60s, country began to branch out, creating new subgenres, like rockabilly and bluegrass, and combining with other popular music to establish its prominent place in mainstream music.
Many musicians are famous for paving the road for country music. In the 1920s, fiddlers such as Fiddlin’ John Carson and A.C. Robertson rose to fame, along with singers including Samantha Bumgarner, Eva Davis, and Vernon Dalhart. Roy Acuff and Gene Autry were known as “singing cowboys” in the 1930s and 1940s, as country music made its way into Hollywood western films. At this time, there was a shift in instruments used in country, and drums were added to the mix, along with the emergence of bluegrass. 50’s country brought two of the most iconic artists to ever live into the light: Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley. Their music transcended genres, with country roots and blues and rock n roll, and everything in between. They were followed by countless more country stars, such as Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, and finally Garth Brooks, who made country music a worldwide phenomenon.
Check back next Friday for the newest addition to visual music, and don’t hesitate to comment on what I should cover in the weeks to come.