Country music is one of those few genres that can simultaneously be both soulful as well as quirky. This genre has experienced continuing competition from old and new styles but has managed to sustain itself as one of the most loved and listened to music genres. Born in the 1920s, the first country music artists drew inspiration from Church Music, British Isles, and the African American blue. This generation of country artists efficiently utilized their adeptness at instruments, such as mandolin, autoharp, banjo, fiddle, and the acoustic guitar, to weave these instruments into their music. From the early 1920s to the present day, the country music genre has had an intriguing journey.
So, let us take a moment to relive some of the most popular country music trends:
1. Western Music: This form of hillbilly music gained popularity in the late 1930s and early 1940s. The Grand Ole Opry show contributed significantly to the popularity of this form of country music. Borrowing heavily from the music traditions of England, Scotland, and Ireland, proponents, and creators of this music genre appeared on television wearing cowboy uniforms. According to CountryThangDaily.com, during the 1930s and 1940s, many western music singers appeared in Hollywood cowboy movies, which further added to the mainstream popularity of this genre. Gene Autry and Roy Rogers were the two most popular western music stars.
2. Western Swing and Rockability: Yet another music trend that emerged and completely conquered Texas, California, and Oklahoma during the late 1920s was the Western Swing. Practitioners of this form created dance hall music using amplified instruments, such as the pedal steel guitar. This form of music drew heavily from two other genres: Western Country Music and Jazz. Rockabilly, on the other hand, drew inspiration from R&B and Western Swing. Both Johnny Cash and Elvis delivered many rockability hits during their career.
3. Outlaw Country: During the mid-1950s, to battle declining record sales, many Nashville producers created a genre that combined ballad singing with orchestral choirs and strings. The Outlaw Country music sub-genre emerged as an answer to this tampering with country music attempted by Nashville producers. This sub-genre of country music successfully merged the eccentricity synonymous with honky-tonk music with the unfettered rebelliousness of rockability. Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Merle Haggard are some of the famous names associated with this genre.
4. Country Rock and Country Pop: Country Rock developed in the mid-60s when famous artists, such as Gram Parsons and Bob Dylan, began combining country music with folk-rock. ‘Nashville Skyline’ was the first country-rock album created by Bob Dylan. Artists like Emmylou Harris and Neil Young took this genre further. Country Pop, on the other hand, resulted from the successful fusion of country music with pop music. Roy Orbison is considered to be the pioneer figure in this genre. Artists like Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers took this genre ahead. Today, singers like Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift represent this genre.
Country Music has evolved tremendously and continues to do so even today. It started as hillbilly music, traversed through sub-genres like bluegrass and country-pop, and today, it is more embracing of diverse ideas and voices than it ever was. It is, thus, no wonder that this genre has gathered millions of ardent fans around the world.