Country, the music of America's heartland, can be traced back to British
Immigrants who brought with them a tradition of storytelling Celtic ballads and
string-instrument playing, especially fiddling. The tradition survived in isolated rural
communities but developed an American accent as music for square dances and hoe-downs.
By the early 1900s "mountain music" - had separated into string band music -the beginnings of bluegrass and vocal harmony music derived from church music In the 20s country began reaching a wider audience due to the popularity of radio and recording and vocalists began dominating. Although musicians had been recording fiddle tunes (known as Old Time Music at that time) in the southern Appalachians for several years, Country music really began on August 1, 1927 in Bristol, Tennessee when The Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers were signed to a recording contract with Victor records.These two recording acts set the tone for those to follow - Rodgers with his unique singing style and the Carter's with their extensive recordings of old-time music. Nashville, Tennessee, with its weekly Grand Ole Opry radio broadcasts, became the center of country music by the Thirties.
In the late thirties Roy Acuff, Ernest Tubb and others began to shift toward a pop like solo singer-plus-band setup, while Western Swing bands in Texas began to borrow from blues, jazz, even polkas. In the Forties and Fifties country came to be accept some improvisational elements and became country and western music; but long after blues and rock and roll had appeared, drums were barred from the the Opry stage.
The tremendously popular postwar "honky-tonk" style - the music of Hank Williams, Hank Thompson, Lefty Frizell, Webb Pierce, George Jones, Loretta Lynn, and Merle Haggard - predominated into the Sixties
The History of
Country Music Hall of Fame