FROM BANJOS TO BIG TIME
Howcountry music took off
Early 1920s Musicians in the Appalachian Mountains had been playing “country” for decades. It gained more exposure as radio shows—including the Grand Ole
Opry out of Nashville in 1925— began broadcasting.
1927 The Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers are “discovered” and recorded in a Bristol, Tenn. studio.
1930s Gene Autry and other singing movie cowboys put the western in “country western” music.
1945 Earl Scruggs joins Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys on stage at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. Bluegrass gets a wider audience.
1954 Elvis Presley spawns a rock ‘n’ roll sound that first threatens and later informs country music.
1966 Charley Pride, the first African-American country music superstar, hits the charts.
1969-1971 Buck Owens and Roy Clark host country music/comedy show Hee-Haw, a nationwide TV hit.
1973 Outlaw movement (Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and crew) hits its stride.
1986 A Tennessee theme park gets a new name after Dolly Parton (the most honored country music artist of all time) takes part ownership. Dollywood gives some 3 million visitors a year a slice of country life and lots of country music.
1989 Enter Garth Brooks, the No. 1-selling solo artist (in any genre) of all time. 2000 Bestselling O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack spurs a roots-music revival.
2004 Rocker Jack White produces country queen Loretta Lynn’s Van Lear Rose, sparking a longtime cross-generational collaboration.
2006 Taylor Swift’s teenage heartstring-pulling songs launch her on a path to become the genre’s top star.
2011-2012 Country hits national TV again: NBC launches the music competition The Voice, putting country star Blake Shelton and his contestants (some of whom win the competition) into the limelight. And ABC premieres Nashville, a series that follows fictional country musicians in Music City.
2013 Kenny Chesney (who is hitting the road with Jason Aldean this year) packs stadiums, topping ticket sales of superstars from Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake to Madonna and U2.
Visit countrymusichalloffame.org and opry.com formore information about the history of countrymusic.