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Country Music


Hank Williams was an early product of the Nashville Music Machine.   So, how did Nashville get to be

Music City, U.S.A.



In 1924, radio station WSM was started and they hired George Hay to develop a "barn dance" format radio program.

 It was originally called the WSM Barn Dance, but was later changed to "The Grand Ole Opry."


This Nashville institution was an early vehicle for exposing the regional and then national public to country music and for launching (or squelching) country music careers.


The Grand Ole Opry




The Grand Ole Opry in the early days


The Grand Ole Opry today

Notice the Jumbotron and the web address underneath



Roy Acuff (1903-1992)

The first real singing star of The Grand Ole Opry

and its host for many years

"Wabash Cannonball"    listen

As country music became more popular, Roy Acuff was actually voted the most popular singer by members of the armed forces during WWII.

He also began (with songwriter Fred Rose) a publishing company

Acuff-Rose Music was hugely successful in publishing country music 

For example, they owned all the copyrights to Hank Williams' songs!


If there's a "Tin Pan Alley" in Country Music, it's Nashville - the music "establishment."

What has come to be known as "The Nashville Sound" is a highly produced countrypolitan (country, but cosmopolitan) effect intended to make country music more mainstream (crossover), and therefore more popular, and therefore more . . . $



Nashville took country music




added drums, electric bass, and strings (not fiddle music, but orchestral strings)

the fiddle and the violin are the exact same instrument playing different styles of music



added backup singers



added studio effects (reverb, overdubbing)



The result was that country music and "pop" music got a little closer together.


For example, let's revisit Patsy Cline



Patsy Cline (1932-1963)

"Faded Love"   listen

You can hear the strings and backup singers. 

This was a big crossover hit.



Here are some other early "Nashville Sound" crossover country stars.



Jim Reeves (1923-1964)

"He'll Have to Go"   watch

Floyd Cramer (1933-1997)

"On the Rebound"   watch

Chet Atkins (1924-2001)

Guitar medley  watch



Chet Atkins also became a very important Nashville producer. 

He was one of the most successful architects of the "Nashville Sound."

He even produced Elvis Presley's first RCA recording - "Heartbreak Hotel"


Have you heard about the new Atkins diet?

The CHET Atkins diet--

you just pick at your food.


Country Music Today


Country Music is big business  $.  There is a steady stream of young artists and a young audience.  The styles continue to evolve.


And the controversy continues

What exactly IS and ISN'T "Country"?  

Everyone has their own opinion.  Listen to the example below:


Country or not?  listen

Country or not?   listen


Some say, "That's not country!"   

Others disagree.   

What do you think?



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