Country music, the first half of Billboard's country and western music category, is a blend of popular musical forms originally found in the Southern United States and the Appalachian Mountains. It has roots in traditional folk music, Celtic music, blues, gospel music, hokum, and old-time music and evolved rapidly in the 1920s. The term country music began to be used in the 1940s when the earlier term hillbilly music was deemed to be degrading, and the term was widely embraced in the 1970s, while country and western has declined in use since that time.
In the Southwestern United States a different mix of ethnic groups created the music that became the Western music of the term Country Western.
Country music has produced two of the top selling solo artists of all time. Elvis Presley, “The Hillbilly Cat”, appeared on the Louisiana Hayride for three years, went on to help define rock ‘n’ roll, and became known as “The King.” Garth Brooks, except for a short foray into non-country near the end of his recording career, recorded and performed country music and is one top selling solo artist.
As of 2007, country is the most popular radio format in America, reaching 77.3 million adults--almost 40 percent of the adult population--every week.
Immigrants to the Southern Appalachian Mountains of North America brought instruments along with them for nearly 300 years. The Irish fiddle, the German derived dulcimer, the Italian mandolin, the Spanish guitar, and the African banjo were the most common instruments. The interactions among musicians from different ethnic groups produced music unique to this region of North America. Appalachian string men of the early twentieth century primarliy consisted of fiddling.
Throughout the nineteenth century, several immigrant groups from Central Europe and the British Isles moved to Texas. These groups interacted with the Spanish, Mexican, Native American, and U.S. communities that were already established in Texas. As a result of this cohabitation and extended contact, Texas has developed unique cultural traits that are rooted in the culture of all of its founding communities. The settlers from the area now known as Germany and the Czech Republic established large dance halls in Texas where farmers and townspeople from neighboring communities could gather, dance, and spend a night enjoying each other’s company. The music at these halls, brought from Europe, included the waltz and the polka, played on an accordion, an instrument invented in Italy, which was loud enough to fill the entire dance hall.
Early recorded history
Columbia Records began issuing records with "hillbilly" music (series 15000D "Old Familiar Tunes") as early as 1924।A year earlier on June 14, 1923 Fiddlin' John Carson recorded "Little Log Cabin in the Lane" for Okeh Records।Vernon Dalhart was the first country singer to have a nationwide hit in May of that same year with "The Wreck of Old '97".Other important early recording artists were Riley Puckett, Don Richardson, Fiddlin' John Carson, Al Hopkins, Charlie Poole and the North Carolina Ramblers and The Skillet Lickers.The steel guitar entered country music as early as 1922, when Jimmie Tarlton met famed Hawaiian guitarist Frank Ferera on the West Coast.
The origins of modern country music can be traced to two seminal influences and a remarkable coincidence. Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family are widely considered to be the founders of country music, and their songs were first captured at a historic recording session in Bristol, Tennessee/Bristol, Virginia on August 1, 1927, where Ralph Peer was the talent scout and sound recordist.
Rodgers fused hillbilly country, gospel, jazz, blues, pop, cowboy, and folk; and many of his best songs were his compositions, including “Blue Yodel” (Victor 21142 ), which sold over a million records and established Rodgers as the premier singer of early country music.
Beginning in 1927, and for the next 17 years the Carters recorded some 300 old-time ballads, traditional tunes, country songs, and Gospel hymns, all representative of America's southeastern folklore and heritage.