It’s easy to see why country and folk music continues to appeal to music fans, with its catchy melodies and guitar licks.
Since being founded in the Southern States of America in the 1920s the genre has undergone significant transformations, from the hillbilly sound of the early days synonymous with traditional barn dances to the rockabilly 50s, which saw the emergence of names like Jonny Cash and Hank Williams.
The Nashville sound of the 1950s is credited with helping country and folk music appeal to a more diverse audience, thanks to artists like Jim Reeves, Tammy Wynette and Patsy Cline, resulting in many pop artists crossing over to country music to boost record sales.
The transition to country pop heralded some of the biggest country hits to date including Glen Campbell’s “Rhinestone Cowboy” and John Denver’s “Take Me Home Country Roads”. Eventually traditional country singers converted to this mainstream sound including Dolly Parton, who enjoyed hits “9 to 5” and “Islands in the Stream” recorded with Kenny Rogers.
The commercial success of country pop predictably resulted in the emergence of Country Rock, with The Eagles at the heart of the movement.
Country music became a worldwide phenomenon in the 90s with artists such as Garth Brooks, Shania Twain, the Dixie Chicks, LeAnn Rimes and Faith Hill being some of the biggest selling artists of the decade.
More recently the chart success of contemporary artists Carrie Underwood, the Zac Brown Band, Kacey Musgraves, Lady Antebellum and global superstar Taylor Swift have helped drive new fans to the genre, ensuring country music is still very much alive, whilst acts like Mumford & Sons have reinvigorate the UK folk scene.