Country music, also referred to as country and Western music, is a genre of American popular music that has its roots in the early 20th century’s rural South and West.
The recording industry replaced the negative name “hillbilly music” with the phrase “country and western music” (eventually abbreviated to “country music”) in 1949.
The ballads, folk songs, and popular songs of the English, Scots, and Irish immigrants of the Appalachians and other regions of the South are the origins of country music.
Traditional Southern mountain string band music started to be professionally recorded in the early 1920s, with Fiddlin’ John Carson scoring the genre’s first hit record in 1923.
Old Country Songs and Songwriters
- Johnny Cash: Has some of the most significant crossover success of all the traditional country western performers. The singer/songwriter ultimately experimented with rock, gospel, folk, and other genres, but is most known for his timeless country songs like “Ring of Fire,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” and “I Walk the Line.” His duet of “Jackson,” which peaked at No. 2 on the Country Music Charts in 1967, was most famously performed with his wife June Carter Cash, a member of the traditional country music nobility in her own right.
- Patsy Cline: Struggled for her reputation as a leading female country singer, even at a time when female country western performers were not given the same benefits as male competitors. Even though Cline passed away at the age of 30, dying in a plane crash, she lived to see the legacy she left behind. Songs like “Crazy” and “I Fall to Pieces” are among the greatest country songs ever written.
- Hank Williams: Who is regarded by some as the founding father of 20th-century country music, sang well-known country songs from the time that still have an impact on performers today. “Your Cheatin’ Heart” and “Hey, Good Looking” are two examples. Those classic radio tunes are as much a part of American society as apple pie.
Let’s talk about some of the famous country songwriters and their songs.
1. Merle Haggard
If Merle Haggard had been ranked first on this list, country music today—and maybe even THE nation—would be better. Two Haggard songs you should listen to are “Big City” and “Workin’ Man Blues.”
Although the current generation of country superstars frequently mentions him as an inspiration, it is less certain how he will affect the generation who will be starting in 2022.
The Country Music Hall of Famer never found the new format’s peppier sound appealing.
Everyone would benefit from having their narrative shared in the same way that Johnny Cash’s or Loretta Lynn’s was.
2. Willie Nelson
The popularity and impact of Willie Nelson are still unrelated to his peak in sales. In the 1970s, he enjoyed enormous artistic success; nevertheless, the success faded with each succeeding decade.
His legacy and reputation, however, were still in the early stages of development.
Nelson, of course, wrote a few decent ones for himself as well. The TOC staff recommends “Sad Songs and Waltzes,” although most fans would benefit from starting with “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” or “Good Hearted Woman.”
Here are some fascinating titbits about Willie Nelson that may serve to highlight his legacy and impact. Few artists put in as much labor as he does.
Since 2010, he has released 19 albums, some of which are original and others which are homages.
3. Hank Williams
In many ways, Hank Williams is the Babe Ruth of country music. Hank, who became a rock star at a period when country music was far more centralized than it is now, achieved it better than anybody else.
Songs like “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” and “Your Cheatin’ Heart” are examples of heartbreak.
Following the passing of the Godfather of country music in 1953, famous cover songs included “Cold Cold Heart,” “There’s a Tear in My Beer,” and “Hey, Good Lookin’.”
4. Jerry Reed
Jerry Reed was a performer in every sense of the word. The only thing his extensive discography, which matches the recordings he worked on as a studio musician, can match is his number of television and film parts.
The 2017 late Country Music Hall of Fame inductee had only a handful of radio singles that reached the Top 30; yet, his guitar tone is recognizable.
In the early 1970s, he started to set himself apart from other artists as someone who could carry a stage and film. He composed songs for singers like Presley, Brenda Lee, Porter Wagoner, and others.
He wrote and recorded “East Bound and Down,” his most well-known song, for his most well-known part, which was that of Cledus Snow in the Smokey and the Bandit films.
5. Emmylou Harris
Emmylou Harris, a well-known singer-songwriter and prolific recording artist, had nearly two dozen Top 10 hits in the 1970s and 1980s, including the No. 1 singles “Together Again,” “Sweet Dreams,” and “Beneath Still Waters.”
She rose to fame as a result of her work with the late Grammy Parsons. She would continue to put the music first for the next 40 years (and counting).
In 2008, Harris was elected into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
New Country Singers and Their Songs
Now, let’s talk about some of the new country singers and their songs:
1. Ashley Cooke
Ashley Cooke was eager to get started with new songs, tours, and writing sessions after getting her degree from Belmont University and taking home the first prize in the institution’s renowned Country Showcase in 2019.
All of it, however, came to an abrupt end when the pandemic entered the scene in the early months of 2020.
Cooke attempted to advance her growing career on the video-sharing social media platform TikTok, and a random upload of her song “Jealous of the Sky” altered everything.
Cooke now has an incredible 10.8 million likes, and 843k followers on TikTok, and has gathered over 1.3 million monthly listeners on Spotify alone.
The Highway, a country station on SiriusXM, also plays Cooke’s music on rotation.
2. Luke Combs
North Carolina-born Luke Combs won the Academy of Country Music’s (ACM) New Male Artist of the Year award in 2019.
He was a huge fan of country music from a very young age. He played football and group singing as a teenager.
This country music artist has a recording contract with Sony Music Nashville. On the album This One’s For You, his debut song, Hurricane, peaked at number one in May 2017.
The album spent its debut week in the Billboard Top 200 Albums.
“When It Rains It Pours,” “One Number Away,” and “She Got the Best of Me” are some of the other hits in addition to “Hurricane.” On Country Airplay, all four have peaked at number one.
3. Ashley McBryde
Ashley McBryde was born and raised in Mammoth Springs, Arkansas. As a teenager, she began playing her dad’s guitar.
Ashley, a former student of Arkansas State University, issued her debut record in 2007.
Nashville is now home to the two-time Country Showdown champion. She received the Academy of Country Music’s New Female Artist of the Year award in 2019.
“Raw” and “bourbon-soaked” have been used to describe her unusual voice. Ashley, a former CiCi server, began her career as a performer in churches, schools, and cafes.
All of the tracks on her sophomore album were co-written by the American Idol performer and songwriter.
4. Josh Ward
Josh Ward, a Texas native, defines his work ethic as “all grit and no quit“. The albums “Promises” and “Hard Whisky” by this country artist are his best-known works.
On Texas country radio stations, several of his songs have peaked in the top 10.
Josh was a rodeo performer before he made it big in country music, and after his rodeo act, he would sing and play the guitar.
Josh and his wife Heather reside in Nashville, and Josh has always been a fan of Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson.
5. Casey Donahew
Casey Donahew was raised in Burleson, Texas, where he performed in the Casey Donahew Band. He started writing and performing his songs while he was a senior in high school.
His top-thirty charting album, “Raw—Real in the Vile,” was released.
Over the last ten years, Donahew and his wife Melinda have steadily advanced their profession. They made an effort to get followers on social media and show by show.
From his debut performance at the Thirsty Armadillo in Fort Worth, his most recent CD, Double Wide Dreams, has come a long way in terms of commercial success.
Upcoming Concerts of Country Music
Here’s the list of upcoming concerts in country music including dates and venues:
|Belfast (United Kingdom) – Ulster Hall
|Battesford – The Long Road Festival
|Glasgow – City Halls & Old Fruitmarket
|Manchester – O2 Ritz
|Bristol – O2 Academy
|London – O2 Shepherds Bush Empire
|Amsterdam (Netherlands) – Melkweg
|Hamburg (Germany) – Gruenspan
|Oslo (Norway) – Rockefeller Music Hall
|Stockholm (Sweden) – Debaser Hornstulls Strand
- The ballads, folk songs, and popular songs of the English, Scots, and Irish immigrants of the Appalachians and other regions of the South are the origins of country music.
- Country songwriters keep their lyrics simple. They depict a story about what is happening in the society.
- Country music has a strong Christian influence in both its lyrics and its musicians, and it is mainly centered on Southern customs and culture.
- The American working class of the Appalachian Mountains is primarily responsible for the development of country music in the south and west of the country.