Explore the Sound created by Nashville Country Music Artists.
Explore the Sub-Genres and Evolution of Country Music
LISTEN TO EARLY COUNTRY
Bluegrass is derived from a mix of cultures in the Appalachian region of the United States. The English and Scottish settlers brought jigs, reels, and fiddles, while Black musicians of the area introduced the banjo. The sound developed and reached audiences through the radio.
Bill Monroe is considered the father of Bluegrass and his sound helped popularize the genre and grow the Grand Ole Opry. His statue stands outside the Ryman Auditorium in Downtown Nashville.
LISTEN TO BLUEGRASS
DEVELOPED IN THE 1930 – 40s | ACROSS THE UNITED STATES - With the decline of record sales during the Great Depression, radio became a popular source of free entertainment. “Barn Dance” shows like WSM’s Grand Ole Opry were born featuring musicians like DeFord Bailey and Roy Acuff.
Western songs gained popularity from singing cowboys like Hollywood film stars Gene Autry and Roy Rogers – troubadours that romanticized the Wild West and the cowboy lifestyle.
Bob Wills introduced drums to the genre with his band the Texas Playboys. Texas Swing was born as a mix of the horn – driven Big Band music and jazz from New Orleans.
HEAR THE SINGING COWBOYS
Ernest Tubb was perhaps the genre's pioneer – he was the first country music artist to bring a steel guitar to the stage of the Grand Ole Opry. But Hank Williams claimed his stake as the "Hillbilly Shakespeare" with his well-known songs. Honky-Tonk remains a definitive sound of country music today.
HEAR THE HONKY-TONK SOUND
LISTEN TO ROCKABILLY
HEAR THE NASHVILLE SOUND
Buck Owens & The Buckaroos are a perfect example of the genre. Owens took the production of his sound to extraordinary heights, playing back his recordings on car stereo speakers to make sure the music sounded good on his audience’s AM radios.
HEAR THE BAKERSFIELD SOUND
Charley Pride's tracks during this time period are a great example of the genre. His song, "Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone" opens with smooth up-tempo strings, the verse and chorus of the song are backed by melodic vocals. The lyrics are traditional country.
LISTEN TO THE COUNTRYPOLITAN SOUND
1970s - Like The Nashville Sound and Countrypolitan, Country Pop was created to appeal to a larger audience beyond traditional country music. It's origin, however, started with the success of pop artists on the Country charts. Pop music began creeping into the country world, not without backlash. When John Denver, considered a pop artist, was presented with the Country Music Association Award for entertainer of the year in 1975, Charlie Rich read Denver's name from an envelope while simultaneously lighting it on fire.
But, the approach to a sound that appealed to both pop and country fans was too big to ignore. Dolly Parton, an established country star, took advantage of the sound, and branched out into the genre. Many artists found considerable success branching out from traditional country sound.
LISTEN TO COUNTRY POP
HEAR THE OUTLAWS OF COUNTRY
Emmylou Harris and similar artists adopt the sounds and mood of traditional country music, and bring the sound to a wider audience, but remain respected in the country music family. Emmylou Harris and The Nash Ramblers took considerable steps to save the Ryman Auditorium from destruction by recording a live album in the decaying building in 1992.
LISTEN TO AMERICANA
Neotraditional is like the Outlaw Movement in the sense that it is an attempt to get back to the roots of country — but these artists can have considerable crossover success and appeal to a wider audience.