Sam on country

By Sam Smith March 18, 2014
• Introduction
• History & Sub-genres
• The Grand Ole Opry
• Canadian Country
• Related Themes
"Country music is the combination of African and
European folk songs coming together and doing a
little waltz right here in the American south. They
came together at some cotillion, and somebody
snuck a black person into the room, and he
danced with a white lady, and music was born."
– Ketch Secor, Old Crow Medicine Show
“Old-Time Music” & “Hillbilly Music”
Roots in Southeastern American folk music, Western, Blues
Influences from European Americans & African Americans
Instruments: banjos, fiddles, harmonicas, & guitars (steel guitar
& drums later)
• Southern United States
– The Southern Appalachians Area (Kentucky, Georgia,
North & South Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, Tennessee)
• First commercial recording in 1922 by A.C. (Eck) Robertson
Sub-genres of Country
Early Country:
• The 1920s – the beginnings of Country
• “Sallie Gooden” by Eck Robertson – Victor Records
• 1927: James Charles “Jimmie” Rodgers “Father of Country
Music” and the Carter Family “The First Family of Country”
signed by Victor Records
– Both inducted in to the Country Music Hall of Fame
• Blue Yodel #1 (T is for Texas) sold over 1 million copies
• The Carters – One of the most prominent musical acts
Sub-genres of Country
Western Swing:
Popularized in dance halls in the Lower Great Plains
A blend of big band, blues, dixieland, and jazz
Introduced drums and the steel guitar (by way of Hawaii)
to country music
• Considered Western until the hit “It don’t mean a thing (If
it ain’t got that swing)” by Duke Ellington
• Bob Wills ("King of Western Swing") and Milton Brown
(“Founder of Western Swing”)
– Founded the Crust Light Doughboys (Sponsored by
Light Crust Flour)
"Western Swing is nothing more than a group of talented
country boys, unschooled in music, but playing the music
they feel, beating a solid two-four rhythm to the
harmonies that buzz around their brains. When it
escapes in all it’s musical glory, my friend, you have
Western Swing."
–Merle Travis
Sub-genres of Country
Cowboy Music:
• 1940-60s
• Popularized through Hollywood and cowboy films
• Roy Rogers “King of the Cowboys”
Formed the Sons of the Pioneers
Longest surviving country music groups
• Gene Autry
– Singer/Actor
– Only real competitor of Roy Rogers
• Put the Western in Country & Western Music
Sub-genres of Country
Honky Tonk:
• 1950s
• Huge influence on today’s artists
• The spirit of dancing and drinking, and of loving and then losing the
one you love
• Guitar, fiddle, string bass, steel guitar with rough & nasally vocals
which developed a clear & sharp sound later
• Hank Williams
– One of the most significant country artists
– Died at age 29 from heart failure exacerbated by alcohol and drug abuse
Sub-genres of Country
The Nashville Sound:
Blend of pop and country
Combination of big band jazz & swing with folk & country
Jim Reeves
– Biggest hit “He’ll have to go” brought him instant stardom
• Patsy Cline
– Greatest female vocalists
Both had their careers cut short from tragic plane crashes
The Generations of Country
Outlaw Country:
Resurgence of traditional country
Nashville Sound losing popularity
Conway Twitty & other artists emerged breaking the mold
Willie Nelson
– 1975: defied country conventions with concept album – the story of
fugitive preacher on the law after killing his wife
– Major role in the crossover movement
– Major influence on today’s country artists
Sub-genres of Country
Urban Country:
• 1980s
• Move away from Country’s roots
– Towards pop culture
– “Urban Cowboy”
• Attempt to crossover into easy-listening
– Pop music of 60s & 70s with a hip rock beat
• Most songs and artists were forgettable, with few being
• John Conlee
• Reba McEntire
Sub-genres of Country
New Country:
• 1990s
• Radio helped popularize Country
• Alan Jackson, Travis Tritt, Brooks & Dunn, Toby Keith,
George Strait, Dixie Chicks, Faith Hill, Martina McBride,
Shania Twain
• Garth Brooks
– Most popular country artist of all time
– World wide success
The Grand Ole Opry
Synonymous with Country Music
WSM Radio’s Grand Ole Opry
Nashville, Tennessee
Live Country Music acts every Saturday night
Used to promote artists’ live performances
Moved around to account for growing audience
Still around today close to downtown Nashville
– Has a 6-foot circular piece of wood from Ryman Auditorium –
heart of the stage
Canadian Country Artists
Canada has the 2nd largest country music base
The Prairies, Ontario, & Atlantic
Spread from radio
The prairies are Canada’s heartland for country music
– Cowboy and agrarian nature
• Shania Twain, Gordon Lightfoot, George Canyon, Stompin’
Tom Connors, Paul Brandt, Dean Brody, Doc Walker,
Dallas Smith, Emerson Drive, Corb Lund and the Hurtin’
Albertans, Gord Bamford, Chad Brownlee
Related Themes
Cultural Hearths
Urban vs Rural
Instruments & Recording technology
Cross Fertilization
Thank You!

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