Country Music: Where and How It All Began
Country music is that old music genre that never has and will never die. The iconic genre takes its roots from old-time blues, ballads, American folk songs, the scots, and Irish dwellers of the Appalachian and other parts of the south in the early 1920s. The genre originated among the employed Americans in the early twentieth century, specifically those in the Appalachian mountains; many European immigrants who lived in the neighborhoods also influenced it.
However, not only the European immigrants but also African Americans also profoundly impacted the birth and spread of the music genre. The history of country music, formerly called country-western music, will be incomplete without mentioning jazz and blues country artists and many white musicians. And even though influenced by many musical genres, country music can be precisely traced to Eastern Tennessee.
Country music, which is now a worldwide popular music genre, was adopted to fill the gap of the hillbilly music’s disparaging label by the recording in 1949. In the 1920s, bristol and Knoxville studios made the earliest recording sessions by capturing the intensely captivating audios from mountaineers in the great smoky mountains.
The olden string band music of the southern mountain started to get recorded commercially, and Fiddlin’ John Carson was able to garner the genre’s first hit record in 1923. Since small radio stations were available in the southern and midwestern cities in 1920, they were more important for the music genre’s growth and broadcast. Many often devoted part of their airtime to live or recorded music made for the white rural dwellers.
The “Grand Ole Opry” from Nashville and the “National Barn Dance” from Chicago, which began in 1923 and 1924, were some major regular programs that had remarkable influence. Their sudden popularity and wide acceptance inspired many other talented singers from the hills, radio, and record studios; therefore recorded more appearances. Deserving special recognition among these gifted musicians was the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers, whose shows deeply encouraged later musicians.
immie Rodgers is known as the father of country music and the first preeminent voice in the music genre. His song “Blue Yodel #1” became instantly famous on release, and he sold more than one million copies of the song in 1927. The song also kick-started his recording career, which, however, was short-lived. He died from complications of tuberculosis in 1933, six years after his single joined the charts.
However, he was inducted into the country music hall of fame in 1961. The Carter family, which includes A.P Carter himself, his wife, Sara Dougherty Carter, and his sister-in-law, Maybelle Addington Carter, prospered in the genre in the late 1920s after they released their first collection of songs in 1927. The Carter family was the famous vocal group during that period. Their earliest hits, “keep on the sunny side,” and “wildwood flower,” increased their fame and still maintain the country music standards to date.
Most historians believe country music was truly born when Victor Records signed Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter family in 1927. Their early recordings were mostly of ballads and country dance tunes. The lead instruments popularly used then were the fiddle, guitar, and violin through tools like the Appalachian dulcimer, harmonica, mandolin, etc., were also used.
The vocals were done in high close harmony or by a single voice. As many southern rural white dwellers emigrated to the industrial cities during the great depression and world war two, many new areas and other music genres like blues and gospel music got exposed to country music. Thus, its popularity therefore widened. Many people were able to identify with country music due to its nostalgic bias, its befitting lyrics about the then common poverty, orphans, destitute lovers, and workers far away from home.
The music genre was fastly becoming everyone’s delight during that time of immense population shifts, and its acceptance further boomed. Country music can be said to have experienced another big break in the early 1930s and 1940s when Hollywood movies featured cowboy films and country stats like Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. After the war, Nashville became the capital of country music in the 1950s and the 1960s. In these decades and the later decades, country music became more sophisticated and accessible to many people.
Presently, country music, with its many benefits and soothing effects like a massage chair easy to move around, is widespread. The use of advanced instruments such as electric guitars also made the music genre acceptable to the international audience. Country music is truly one of the indigenous American musical styles and a unique music genre.