Originated in Southern United States, in Bristol, Tennessee around the 1920s, Country music is a very popular type of American popular music. But why is it called ‘Country music’? Is it because it came from the rural regions of the United States, i.e. the country-side or is it something else?
Well, Joe McCarthy, the well known anti-Communist Senator, during the 1952 hearings, demanded Weavers’ lead singer, Pete Seeger to give evidence about his “Communist leanings.” The industry then dropped ‘folk’ and the term ‘country and western’ or simply ‘country’ came into wide use.
The journey therefore started with the term ‘hillbilly’ and moved to ‘old-time’, ‘oat tunes’, ‘folk’ and finally ended as ‘Country music’. Learn many more such interesting facts about your famous music genre below:
1. Country music is a coalition style of both Southeast (Country music) and the Southwest and West styles of music (Western music).
2. It came into existence when recorded material started becoming available in rural areas, and further developed during World War II when musicians from various sections met and mixed the tunes.
3. Taking its roots from American folk music, this type is all about ballads and dance tunes.
4. Instruments used in this form are mostly string instruments like fiddles, harmonicas, banjos and electric or acoustic guitars.
5. ‘Blues modes’, which come in both major and minor varieties, have been used majorly throughout its recorded history.
6. Country music was earlier known as ‘hillbilly music’ in the mid-20th century. Later, the form started changing, encompassing Western music.
7. It was termed as Country music in the 1940s with the introduction of Ernesh Tubb, better known as Texas Troubadour and one of the pioneers of Country music.
8. Ernest Dale Tubb’s biggest career hit song was “walking the floor over you” (1941), which also marked the rise of the honky tonk style of music. Tubb is also a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
9. Today, used to describe many styles and subgenres, the music earlier used to be a taste for working-class Americans, who loved a blend of popular cowboy songs with traditional ballads, bringing in Irish and Celtic fiddle tunes or may be musical tunes from European immigrant communities.
10. In the year 2009, Country music was the most listened radio genre in the United States during the evening slot, and second most popular in the morning slots.
11. James Charles “Jimmie” Rodgers was considered as “The Father of Country Music”. Among the first Country music superstars and pioneers, Rodgers was also known as “The Singing Brakeman” and “The Blue Yodeler”, for his rhythmic yodeling. He was discovered by Ralph Peer of RCA.
12. Henry Ford, an American industrialist and the founder of the Ford Motor Company, promoted and spent on Country music in the 1920s more than anyone else. He started with organizing fiddling contests and encouraged square dances across the country to encourage the form.
13. Atlanta, should have been the “Music City, U.S.A.” as all five elements that made Country music: radio, record making, live touring, song writing, and song publishing, came together in this city. Besides, Atlanta was also the local talent hub, in the mid-1920s.
14. Polk Brockman should be also mentioned here as he was the first record producer to make and release a side by a so called “untrained country artist” then. These recordings of the legendary Fiddlin’ John Carson were done with the help of Ralph Peer, founder of the Grand Ole Opry.
15. Fiddlin’ John Carson was 55 (in the year 1923) when OKeh label released his “little old log cabin in the lane” or “the old hen cackled”, arguably the first recording by a strictly country artist and the beginning of the Country music recording industry.