country and western music
Country and western music is directly descended from the folk songs, ballads, and popular songs of the English, Scottish, and Irish settlers of the U.S. southeastern seaboard. Its modern lyrics depict the emotions and experience of rural and (currently) urban poor whites; they often tell frankly of illicit love, crime, and prison life. Over the last 50 years country and western music has gained a nationwide audience. Since 1925 the
Many of the musicians have been influenced by African-American blues (see jazz) and gospel music, but the performers and audience are almost all white. Leading performers include Jimmy Rodgers, the Carter Family, Hank Williams and his son, Tex Ritter, Chet Atkins, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, June Carter-Cash, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, George Jones, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, Charley Pride, Charlie Rich, Dolly Parton, and Willie Nelson. In the 1960s and 70s, country and western music significantly influenced the development of rock music. Since then, it has undergone a national revival with performers such as Ricky Scaggs, Garth Brooks, the Judds, Tanya Tucker, and Reba McEntire achieving great popularity.
See B. C. Malone, Country Music USA (1968); P. Hemphill, The Nashville Sound (1971); C. Brown, Music USA: America's Country and Western Music (1985); K. Sparkman, A People and Their Music (2000); D. Jannings, Sing Me Back Home: Love, Death, and Country Music (2008).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2023, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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