Alternative Country Rock
Rhythm and Blues
Country music is a wide musical genre, with several subgenres, that describes the musical forms which originated in Southern United States and the Appalachian mountains around the 1920s. One can find the stylistic roots of country music in related genres such as folk, blues, jazz, Celtic music, gospel, and even a bit of swing. Among the characteristics that distinguish country music and country records are their simple chord progressions; simple, memorable choruses and melodies; the incorporation of stories into the lyrics; and the use of string instrumentation such as guitars, the violin, fiddles, banjos and harmonicas. Defining figures of the country music genre include Jimmie Rodgers, Carter Family, Roy Acuff, Garth Brooks, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, Gram Parsons, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Dixie Chicks, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Shania Twain, and other successful country bands and country artists both past and present.
The Beginnings of Country MusicCountry music began to evolve rapidly in the 1920s, thanks to Jimmie Rodgers and Carter Family, who both fused the musical characteristics of folk, jazz, blues, cowboy, and pop in songs that were representative of America’s southeastern folklore and heritage. The two are considered to be the founders of country music, and they were followed in the 1930s and 1940s by Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Roy Acuff, Al Dexter, Ernest Tubb, and Hank Williams. They usually performed at roadside pubs, where the audience could enjoy the honky-tonk sounds of their steel guitars and drums.
In the 1950s, country music began to fuse pop stylings with the genre’s traditional sound – with smooth vocals, instrumental licks, and the lush, prominent backing of a string and horn section. This brought the genre to a more diverse and national audience. Notable country artists who gained success in this period include Patsy Cline, Buddy Holly, Kitty Wells, Jim Reeves, Eddy Arnold, and Ray Price. A hopped-up variety of country – called “rockabilly” – also made its presence felt in the mainstream, with Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis being the main proponents.
Country Music in the Second Half of the 20th CenturyDuring the 1960s and 70s, country artists and country bands continued to dabble in other sounds, changing their own instrumentation, making their own musical arrangements and further revolutionizing the country music genre; these included Willie Nelson, Johnny Paycheck, Billy Joe Shaver, and Jessi Colter. When rock came back to its roots in the 1970s, country artists and country bands also experimented with it, giving way to the success of Gram Parsons, Alabama, Charlie Daniels Band, and Travis Tritt, among others.
The late 1970s and early 1980s saw country music become more pop-focused and mellowed, with country artists and country bands crossing over to the mainstream and into the pop-dominated hit charts. Thus, the genre became more widely accepted – and by a larger audience. Some of the successful country artists in this era include John Denver, Olivia Newton-John, Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, Eddie Rabbitt, and Conway Twitty.
Popular Country Artists and Country Bands TodayToday, country music has grown to become more mainstream than ever, at the peak of its popularity among a nationwide and international audience, and this is reflected by the success of Garth Brooks, the top-selling artist in U.S. history. Joining him in the list of notable contemporary country artists are Carrie Underwood, Brooks & Dunn, Vince Gill, Faith Hill, Shania Twain, Keith Urban, Toby Keith, Tim McGraw, and Trisha Yearwood, among many other country artists and country bands.
Country Record LabelsMajor record labels commonly associated with country music and its subgenres are: Capitol Nashville, which brought Chris Cagle, Keith Urban, and Kenny Rogers; Columbia Nashville, which brought Miranda Lambert, Willie Nelson, and Johnny Cash; and Rounder Records, which brought Alison Krauss and Brad Paisley.
Country Records and Country CDsJimmie Rodgers CDs, Carter Family CDs, Roy Acuff CDs, Garth Brooks CDs, Patsy Cline CDs, Johnny Cash CDs, Carrie Underwood CDs, Brooks & Dunn CDs, Vince Gill CDs, Faith Hill CDs, Shania Twain CDs, Keith Urban CDs, Toby Keith CDs, Dolly Parton CDs, Kenny Rogers CDs, Eddie Rabbitt CDs, and Conway Twitty CDs among other country records and country CDs by country bands and artists from the 1920s onwards, are available at MusicStack. Country vinyl LPs are also available.
Popular Country Artists