Country, country and western, folk, bluegrass, Celtic, Cajun, and even gospel all share a piece of the larger Country genre. While Blues can be characterized as a typically African-American creation, country can be best ascribed to the white southern ranks with strong roots in the music that traveled westward. Celtic highlands music, strongly inflected in bluegrass-- and ‘hillbilly” music is regarded as a crucial influence. Genealogically speaking much of the Southern immigrants hailed from the UK. Linguists have traced the region’s dictions to these roots. As much has been attributed to the music.
Historically Country music is indicative of banjo and twang. Stylistically speaking much of the early country classics blend Bluegrass and Celtic sounds, all steeped in backwoods cacophonies of fiddle and guitar mashups. Banjos, steel guitars, jugs, spoons and washboards earmarked early mountain or hillbilly music with its Celtic wailing and yodeling. Classic country artists such as Loretta Lynn, Eddie Arnold, and Patsy Cline spawned the contemporary Nashville era. But Nashville grew into the size of its stars, birthed the Grand Ole Opry House and became the Hollywood of country music. Legions of promising new Nashville stars arrive everyday hawking their musical wares.
Contemporary country is as diverse as its roots. Artists are divvied up between those spawned from the Nashville roots—Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers--and those from more folk and pop roots, such as Emmy Lou Harris, Jewel and Shania Twain. However you look at it, much of music’s literati have widely and historically scorned country music at large: for its incessant and over the top patriotic anthems and particular conviction to plaintive and whisky-soaked odes to love gone wrong. It has further been earmarked as the working man’s music.
Most unique about country music is that as traditionally rooted to a region as it is, the fan base, nevertheless, is huge and exists outside any boundaries of region. Contemporary country music radio stations flourish across America, in large cities and in small towns. Country artists the likes of Rascal Flatts, Shania Twain, Faith Hill, and newcomer Carrie Underwood, regularly crossover to music’s pop side. Other household names like Keith Urban, Tim McGraw, and Trace Adkins are just a few of today’s hottest hit-makers. The message in country music is just as real as it ever was.