The most comprehensive list of Country Music genres available on the Internet
The Music Genres List site covers many of the most popular styles of country music, we hope this becomes the definitive list of country music genres on the Internet, send an email to add @ musicgenreslist dot com if you feel any country music genres are missing and we’ll add to complete the music list.
- Alternative Country
- Contemporary Bluegrass
- Contemporary Country
- Country Gospel
- Honky Tonk
- Outlaw Country
- Traditional Bluegrass
- Traditional Country
- Urban Cowboy
Country Music Genre
Country music is also known as Country and Western or Hillbilly music. It started in the United States in the 1920s and came as a hybrid of American folk music and the blues. Country music generally has simple tunes and lyrics with a basic musical structure.
Country music is generally characterized by stringed instruments like the banjo, guitar, and fiddle, as well as the harmonica. The term ‘country music’ didn’t come into common lexicon until the 1940s when it was preferred over the term ‘hillbilly music.’
Country music continued to evolve parallel to hillbilly music from common roots in 1920s American folk music. Today, country music is one of the most popular music genres in the United States, and the term encompasses plenty of styles and subgenres.
Origins of Country Music
As country music began to develop in the 1920s, it was embraced by working-class Americans. They mixed popular songs with traditional English ballads, Irish fiddle tunes, cowboy songs, and musical traditions from European immigrants.
Bristol, Tennessee is formally recognized as the birthplace of country music because of the Bristol recording sessions that took place there in 1927. Equally influential, however, are the lesser-known recording sessions in Johnson City in 1928 and 1929, and the Knoxville recording sessions in 1929 and 1930.
The rich musical heritage of the settlers in the Great Smoky Mountains was inspired by other events like the Mountain City Fiddlers Convention in 1925.
The Generations of Country Music
The first generation of country music artists emerged in the early 1920s and included pioneers like Jimmie Rodgers and The Carter Family. Hillbilly recording artists like Cliff Carlisle also emerged, successfully collating a combination of country and blues.
The Grand Ole Opry aired for the first time in 1925 and has since become the most significant country music show of all time. The second generation during the 1930s and 1940s were the first to see the radio increase in popularity.
During the second generation, singing cowboys like Bob Wills and Gene Autry made their way to Hollywood and popularized country music on the big screen. Bobs Wills was also instrumental in the popularity of dance hall music, known as Western swing. He combined country with jazz to make the sound and was one of the first country music artists to add an electric guitar to his band in 1938.
The third generation of country music artists saw the likes of bluegrass musicians, like Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, and Bill Monroe in the 1950s and 60s. Gospel remained a popular component of country music through this generation.
Shortly thereafter, honky-tonk emerged as a raw, stripped-down country subgenre in Texas and Oklahoma. The music was rooted in Western swing and the Mexican ranchera music that drifted across the southern border.
It was played primarily among poor white people with a basic ensemble of a guitar, bass, and a dobro or a steel guitar, which later became drums. By the 1950s, it combined with country boogie and Western swing and appeared in this form by most bands in the country music genre.
Rockabilly became popular in the 1950s and 1960s with Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley. The Nashville sound skyrocketed country music to fame and multimillion-dollar success in the 1960s, with artists like Patsy Cline and Jim Reeves.
Unfortunately, their deaths in separate plane crashes led to a serious decline shortly afterward. The British Invasion influenced many people to return to what they considered the ‘old values’ of rock ‘n roll.
Fourth-generation country music in the 1970s and 1980s included outlaws like that of Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, country-pop stars like John Denver, and the Bakersfield sound of Buck Owens.
John Denver wasn’t the only country artist to cross over to pop. Dolly Parton grew in popularity in the mid-1970s and led a high-profile career that is still going strong today. She’s not the last female country music artist to cross over to pop, either—Canadian-born Shania Twain did the same thing decades later.
As was typical of past generations, country music lent itself well to adaptation according to the popular musical stylings of other generational genres. This time it was country disco. It wouldn’t be long before country artists desired to return to the basics of country sound, however, leading to the popularity of artists like George Strait, whose success carried his style of country music into today’s industry.
The fifth generation of country music in the 1990s saw worldwide success with neo-traditionalists like Alan Jackson, and stadium country acts like the Dixie Chicks and Garth Brooks.
The 1990s also saw a growth in female country music artists such as Reba McEntire, Faith Hill, Patty Loveless, Martina McBride, LeAnn Rimes, Shania Twain, Deanna Carter, The Dixie Chicks, and many others.
Along with its worldwide popularity, country music spawned a line dancing revival, the influence of which was so great that it led many country music artists of previous generations to complain about how bad country music had become since their time.
2000 to Present
We’re now in our sixth generation of country artists. There are still plenty of outside influences like rock, pop, and hip hop as seen in artists like Lady Antebellum, Taylor Swift, and Florida Georgia Line. And country music is still evolving.