Music has been a part of the Appalachian culture for centuries. The history of country music can be traced back to the 1920s and 1930s Appalachian region when folk songs were sung on radio stations. String bands were the first type of music to be popular in Appalachia, and they were often made up of old folk ballads that had been passed down from generation to generation. These days, bluegrass is the most popular genre in Appalachia.
These original country songs became famous through live performances at church gatherings and town squares. Although country music has its roots firmly planted in folk music, it has evolved over the last hundred years into a genre that encompasses everything from old-school to modern-day contemporary sounds giving way to dozens of subgenres and influences along the way. In the early 1950s, as a result of the popularity of rock and roll, country music was driven off the radio. This country music drought continued into the 1960s because rock and roll dominated American airwaves. In 1963, Patsy Cline burst onto the scene with her soulful voice and songwriting skills. She brought country music back to life on the radio, especially with her songs Crazy and I Fall to Pieces.
In the early 20th century, country music’s popularity steadily rose. Pioneers like Roy Acuff and Gene Autry helped shape the genre by adding new instruments to country songs, incorporating blues and folk music into their sound, and introducing Western swing. In 1937, the first golden age of the country took place, with stars like The Carter Family and Hank Williams emerging as influential artists. By the 1960s, The Nashville Sound had become a more commercialized version of honky-tonk, producing stars like Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn. Today, there are still significant stars in country music, such as Garth Brooks and Taylor Swift, while some have opted for a more traditional sound, with artists such as Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings still popular today.