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Country music began with immigrants of Appalachia. Those who came from the “Old World” brought only their most valuable assets, which included instruments. The most commonly used were The Irish fiddle, the German derived dulcimer, the Italian mandolin, the Spanish guitar, and the West African banjo

Appalachian Area of the USA

old time music 1800s
“Old Time” Music- 1800s
  • In the South, folk music was a combination of musical traditions of a variety of ethnic groups. For example, some instrumental pieces from British and Irish immigrants were the basis of folk songs and ballads that form what is now known as old time music, from which country music descended
  • The interactions among musicians from different ethnic groups produced music unique to this region of North America.
  • This early country music along with early recorded country music primarily used the fiddle, guitar, and banjo.
old time music 1800s1
“Old Time” Music- 1800s
  • A great deal of style—and of course, the banjo—came from African Americans. One of the reasons country music was created by African Americans, as well as European Americans, is because blacks and whites in rural communities in the south often worked and played together.
  • Influential black guitarist Arnold Schultz, known as the primary source for thumb style, or Travis picking, played with white musicians in West-central Kentucky.
and then there s texas
And then there’s Texas…
  • Throughout the 19th century, several immigrant groups from Europe, most notably from Ireland, Germany, Spain, and Italy, moved to Texas. These groups interacted with Mexican, Native American and U.S. communities that were already established in Texas. As a result of this cohabitation and extended contact, Texas has developed unique cultural traits that are rooted in the culture of all of its founding communities.
evolution of country 1920s
Evolution of Country- 1920s
  • Atlanta's music scene played a major role in launching country's earliest recording artists in the early 1920s — many Appalachian people had come to the city to work in its cotton mills and brought their music with them. It would remain a major recording center for two decades and a major performance center for four decades, into the first country music TV shows on local Atlanta stations in the 1950s.
evolution of country 1920s1
Evolution of Country- 1920s
  • Columbia Records began issuing records with "hillbilly" music as early as 1924.
  • Vernon Dalhart was the first country singer to have a nationwide hit in1924 with "Wreck of the Old '97
  • In April 1924, "Aunt" Samantha Bumgarner and Eva Davis became the first female musicians to record and release country songs.
  • The first commercial recordings of Country music were "Arkansas Traveler" and "Turkey in the Straw" by fiddlers Henry Gilliland & A.C. (Eck) Robertson in1925 for Victor Records.
jimmie rodgers and the carters
Jimmie Rodgers and the Carters
  • Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family are widely considered to be important early country musicians. Their first recording session was in 1927.
  • Rodgers fused hillbilly country, gospel, jazz, blues, pop, cowboy, and folk; and many of his best songs were his compositions, including “Blue Yodel”, which sold over a million records and established Rodgers as the premier singer of early country music.
  • Beginning in 1927, and for the next 17 years, the Carters recorded some 300 old-time ballads, traditional tunes, country songs and gospel hymns, all representative of America's southeastern folklore and heritage.
jimmy rodgers in 1929
Jimmy Rodgers in 1929

Jimmie Rodgers

1930s 1940s
  • One effect of the Great Depression was to reduce the number of records that could be sold. Radio, and broadcasting, became a popular source of entertainment, and "barn dance" shows featuring country music were started all over the South, as far north as Chicago, and as far west as California.
  • The most important was the Grand Ole Opry, which began airing in 1925 in Nashville and has continued airing through today.
country and western 1930s 40s
Country and Western- 1930s&40s
  • During the 1930s and 1940s, cowboy songs, or Western music, were popularized by films made in Hollywood. Some of the popular singing cowboys from the era were Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. Country music & western music were frequently played together on the same radio stations, hence the term country & western music.
  • Patsy Montana opened the door for female artists with her history making song "I Want To Be a Cowboy's Sweetheart". This would begin a movement toward opportunities for women to have successful solo careers.
changing the instruments
Changing the Instruments
  • Drums were scorned by early country musicians as being "too loud" and "not pure," but by 1935 Western swing big band leader Bob Wills had added drums to the Texas Playboys. In the mid 1940s, the Grand Ole Opry did not want the Playboys’ drummer to appear on stage.
  • By the early 1960s, however, it was rare that a country band didn't have a drummer
other genres of country
Other Genres of Country
  • Western Swing
  • Hillbilly boogie
  • Bluegrass
  • Folk
  • Gospel
  • Honky Tonk
changing music 1950s 1960s
Changing Music 1950s-1960s
  • Western Music reached its peak in the early 1950s.
  • Musicians began blending Western swing, country boogie, and honky tonk.
  • During the mid-1950s a new style of country music became popular, eventually to be referred to as rockabilly.
  • 1956 was the year of Rockabilly.
  • Rockabilly was a mixture of rock-and-roll and hillbilly music.
  • During this period Elvis Presley converted over to country music. He played a huge role in the music industry during this time. The number two, three and four songs on Billboard's charts for that year were Elvis Presley, "Heartbreak Hotel"; Johnny Cash, "I Walk the Line"; and Carl Perkins, "Blue Suede Shoes".
nashville 1960s
Nashville- 1960s
  • Reaching its peak during the early 1960s, the Nashville sound turned country music into a multimillion-dollar industry centered in Nashville, Tennessee.
  • The sound brought country music to a diverse audience and helped revive country as it emerged from a commercially fallow period.
  • This subgenre was notable for borrowing from 1950s pop stylings: a prominent and "smooth" vocal, backed by a string section and vocal chorus. Instrumental soloing was de-emphasized in favor of trademark "licks".
other sub genres
Other Sub-Genres
  • Countrypolitan- country music even more heavily influenced by “pop” (Tammy Wynette)
  • Country soul- crossover artists from the Soul and R&B styles began making country music (Ray Charles)
  • Hard Country- artists that stayed with the more traditional sound (Loretta Lynn)
  • Bakersfield Sound- a mix of hard country, honky tonk, and Western swing (Buck Owens)
country rock 1960s
Country Rock- 1960s
  • The late 1960s in American music produced a unique blend as a result of traditionalist backlash within separate genres. In the aftermath of the British Invasion, many desired a return to the "old values" of rock n' roll. At the same time there was a lack of enthusiasm in the country sector for Nashville-produced music. What resulted was a crossbred genre known as country rock.
  • Gram Parsons is known as the father of country-rock.
country rock artists
Country Rock Artists
  • Early innovators in this new style of music in the 60s and 70s included Bob Dylan who was the first to revert to country music. He was followed by rock n' roll icon band The Byrdsand its spin-off The Flying Burrito Brothers, the Grateful Dead, Neil Young, and The Eagles among many.
  • The Rolling Stones also got into the act with songs like "Honky Tonk Women" and "Dead Flowers".
country rock s influence
Country Rock’s Influence
  • Country rock is one of the most long-lasting sub-genres of country. It’s influences created alternative country as we know it.
  • Alternative country artists include Dolly Parton, Shania Twain, Faith Hill, Carrie Underwood, Alabama, Brooks & Dunn, Hank Williams Jr., and Garth Brooks.
before he cheats video
“Before He Cheats”video

Carrie Underwood on American Idol

even more subgenres 70s 90s
Even more subgenres- 70s-90s
  • Outlaw country- Derived from the traditional Western and honky tonk musical styles of the late 1950s and 1960s, and mixed with the anger of an alienated subculture of the nation during the 70s (Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings)
  • Country Pop- a mix of countrypolitan, folk, and soft rock, generally included in the 70s a pop artist that had crossed over (Olivia Newton John, Marie Osmond)
  • Neocountry- In 1980, a style of "neocountry disco music" was popularized by the film Urban Cowboy,which also included more traditional songs such as "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" by the Charlie Daniels Band
even more subgenres 70s 90s1
Even more subgenres- 70s-90s
  • Truck driving- a fusion of honky tonk, country-rock and Bakersfield Sound. It has the tempo of country-rock and the emotion of honky-tonk, and its lyrics focus on a truck driver's lifestyle (C.W. McCall)
  • Neotraditionalist- During the mid-1980s, a group of new artists began to emerge who rejected the more polished country-pop sound that had been prominent on radio and the charts, in favor of more, traditional, "back-to-basics" production (Randy Travis, George Strait)
the 1990s explosion
The 1990s Explosion
  • FM radio was expanded in 1980s to include more channels. In the 90s, country music began moving from AM radio to FM radio, reaching a wider audience.
  • The wider audience led music producers to produce a cleaner more appealing sounding country music
  • Rock music was changing into the alternative and grunge sound, also changing the sound of many country artists influenced by the rock genre
  • The real explosion of popularity happened due to two artists- Garth Brooks and Billy Ray Cyrus
garth brooks
Garth Brooks
  • The Recording Industry Association of America announced that Garth Brooks was the best-selling solo artist of the 20th century in America. This conclusion drew criticism from the press and many music fans who were convinced that Elvis Presley had sold more records, but had been short-changed in the rankings due to faulty RIAA certification methods during his lifetime. Brooks, while proud of his sales accomplishments, stated that he too believed that Presley must have sold more
  • The RIAA has since reexamined their methods for counting certifications. Under their revised methods, Presley became the best-selling solo artist in U.S. history, making Brooks the number two solo artist.
  • On November 5, 2007, Brooks was again named the best selling solo artist in US history, surpassing Presley after audited sales of 123 million were announced.
  • In December 2010, several more of Presley's albums received certifications from the RIAA. As a result, Elvis again surpassed Brooks. As of June 2012, the RIAA lists Presley's total sales at 134.5 million and Brooks' at 128 million.
2000s and beyond
2000s and beyond
  • Notable for the amount of crossover artists from other genres
  • Carrie Underwood made records- first woman to twice win the Entertainer of the Year award at the ACMAs, first country artist in 10 years to win best new artist Grammy, only country artist to have a #1 song on the Billboard top 100 for 2000-2009
  • Taylor Swift- first country artists to have two #1 on the Nielsen charts, has been named one of the best songwriters of all time, Speak Now broke records by selling 1,041,000 copies in its first week