Country Music Statistics: All About the Fans

There are some things you can learn just by looking at the world around you, but some truths only reveal themselves when you take the time to crunch some numbers. This is especially true if you want to learn about country music fans. With millions of country music lovers across the world there is is no way to tell whether or not someone loves the country just by looking at them.

Finding out the real and sometimes surprising facts about country music fans takes some serious research. We’ve dug into the numbers to confirm some suspicions and reveal some surprising truths about country music fans.

Country Music Radio Statistics

Country music fans love the radio

Around the time that MTV came out, a famous song announced that video killed the radio star. But while other genres abandoned the radio country music fans have remained remarkably loyal. Since country music hit the radio in 1924 with “National Barn Dance” the genre has been growing on radio waves across America and around the world.

Number of Stations Playing Country and Western Music

  • 1944: 600+
  • 1964: 2,000+
  • 2016: 4,000+

That’s a lot of stations broadcasting country music! To put it into context, the FCC reports that there are around 15,000 radio stations in America. This means that around 37% of the nation’s radio stations play country music! That’s some serious radio domination!

It’s also worth noting that country music fans aren’t just casual radio listeners. Just look at this survey on how country fans consume music.

How people listen to country music

  • 70% listen to country on the radio
  • 20% listen to country on online streaming services
  • 20% use CDs
  • 15% use iTunes or other digital formats
  • 5% listen to country music at concerts or other live events
  • 3% listen to it on vinyl
  • 7% listen to it using other methods, like watching music channels on TV.

In this day and age where more music fans are getting their favorite tunes digitally, it says something about country fans that they are sticking to their guns. You have to add up every other method to even match the sheer power of country radio!

Country fans tend to be successful

If you consider yourself to be a fan of country music, then you are in good company. Stereotypes would have you believe that country music fans are all living in trailer parks, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Country music fans are actually some of the most successful music fans.

Country fan financial facts

  • 75% of country fans own a home
  • Country fan’s homes have average value of $228,586
  • 50% of people with an income of $100,000 or more are country fans

These country fan financial stats don’t mean that you can get rich just by tuning in to your local country station, but it does suggest that if you want to get places in life, it might be a good idea to start networking at your local country music venue.

Garth Brooks Popularity

Country Fans Love Garth Brooks

OK, you don’t need to do any surveys to figure this out. It’s easy to tell that Mr. Brooks is one of the most beloved artists in all of music, not just country. But still, you can’t really appreciate the full reach of Garth Brooks until you look at some facts related to him.

Top-selling country albums

  • Garth Brooks – “Double Live” 21 times platinum
  • Shania Twain – “Come on Over” 20 times platinum
  • Garth Brooks – “No Fences” 17 times platinum
  • Garth Brooks – “Rope in the Wind” 14 times platinum
  • Dixie Chicks – “Wide Open Spaces” 12 times platinum

It’s easy to see that Garth Brooks dominates this chart. He doesn’t just get the top spot; he gets three out of the top five! To get platinum certified an album has to sell one million records. This means that the five albums listed sold 84 million records in total, and Garth’s albums account for 52 million of those sales. That’s 62 percent! Even when you account for the fact that double albums like “Double Live” count for two it’s still an insane achievement.

And we’re just getting started looking at Garth’s dominance!

Top-selling country artists

  • Garth Brooks, 138 million.
  • George Strait, 69 million.
  • Shania Twain, 48 million.
  • Kenny Rogers, 47.5 million.
  • Alabama, 46.5 million.

When looking at the most commercially successful country artists of all time, Garth Brooks absolutely dominates. George Strait and Shania Twain are both legends in their own right, but together their 117 million records sold falls 21 million short of Garth Brooks’ total.
Some would argue that Garth’s success on these lists is because he peaked during the 90s, when record sales were much higher than they are today. But that doesn’t account for the next fact.

Top Selling Concert Tours of 2017

  • Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood
  • Ed Sheeran
  • Bruno Mars
  • Lady Gaga
  • Trans-Siberian Orchestra

32 years after the start of his professional music career Garth Brooks is still drawing fans to his concerts like acts half his age. Chart toppers Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars weren’t even born yet when Garth Brooks started playing honky tonks, but the country legend is still outperforming these international superstars when it comes to concert sales.

Country Music Fan Stats

Country music fandom is getting younger and more diverse

Many people like to caricature country music fans as overwhelmingly old and white, but the truth is that country music fans come from every age, ethnicity, and walk of life. Country crossover stars like Taylor Swift often get accused of using country music to grow their own fan bases, but at the same time, they have also helped to grow country music and expand its reach.

Facts that show country music is getting younger and more diverse

  • 54% increase in country listeners between the ages of 18 and 24 since 2006
  • 25% increase in Hispanic country listeners since 2010
  • 70% of nonwhites surveyed reported listening to country music at least weekly

Some country critics and genre purists would have you believe that the genre belongs to the past, but the facts show that this isn’t the case. Country music has a power that can connect people from different ages, genders, races, and nationalities.

Of course, if you’ve been going to country music shows you probably already knew this already. But it’s nice to have the facts to prove just how far country music can reach.

10 new country artists you need to know

10 New Country Artists You Need to Know

The classics may never die, but it’s worth watching out for the new classics that are coming out of Nashville all the time. The country scene is more vibrant and varied than ever before. To give you a taste of what’s bubbling up the charts then take a look at this list of ten new country artists to keep an eye out for. Some have already found an audience, and others have just appeared on the scene, but all of them are helping to carry country music’s torch on into a new generation.

1. Walker Hayes

This young man has made quite the splash with his song “You Broke Up with Me.” The subject matter is well worn, but he puts a modern spin on the breakup song. He sings with a syrupy drawl and a thoroughly modern cadence, producing a pop-country song that will even have purists tapping their toes.

2. Jordan Davis

Jordan is a man with a voice as epic as his beard. If you don’t know what I mean just watch the video for his hit song “Singles You Up” to see what I’m talking about. If you saw him on the street, you might think he was a hipster, but his voice has a classical feel. He’s got the sort of sound that would work equally well performing a pop-country hit or rasping out a bluesy classic.

3. Ashley Campbell

At first glance, you might think that this young lady is another Taylor Swift in the making. There’s no denying she has a similar look and pop flair, but all the same, she’s got deeper country roots than the “Shake it Off” singer ever hand. If the name Ashley Campbell rings a bell, it might be because she’s the daughter of Glen Campbell. But this isn’t a case of nepotism; it’s more like talent running in the genes. Listening to her after the death of her father gives you the spooky sense that his spirit lives on in her to this day. Even if you don’t know Glen’s music, there’s a good chance that her song “Remembering” will have you misty-eyed. And if you’re a fan of his then don’t be surprised if you end up bawling.

4. Ross Cooper

Lots of country artists have sung songs about the rodeo, but few have been able to do it with the sort of authenticity that Ross Cooper brings to the table. He may look like another pretty face at first, but this young man was riding broncos professionally until an injury sent him in a different direction. When he sings his signature song “I Rode The Wild Horses” you can feel the sort of down and dirty authenticity that can be hard to find in this day and age.

5. Austin Jenckes

Austin Jenckes isn’t new on the scene. He’s been at it for a while, but he never quite cracked the top ranks of country stardom. That might change this year as he pushes the release of his newest work. He’s not as famous as some of the folks on this list, but we couldn’t leave him off. Watching Austin perform can be a very refreshing experience. He doesn’t have that male-model look that most country stars these days seem to be rocking. Listening to him will take you back to listening to the AM radio in your parents’ house.

6. Kassi Ashton

A country queen with a truckload of attitude, Kassi Ashton is the biggest thing to come out of California, Missouri. While lots of artists like to idealize small town America Kassi is a woman who isn’t afraid to wrestle with her complicated feeling about her hometown, family, and love life. She sells it all with a powerful voice and a sharp-eyed lyrical style.

7. Muscadine Bloodline

It can feel like these days the country band has faded pretty far into the background as hundreds of solo acts compete for the top spots on the cart. But Muscadine Bloodline is a reminder that sometimes two musicians need to come together to create a whole that’s bigger than the sum of their parts. These Mobile, Alabama natives were drawn together by a shared hometown and a lifelong love of music. Together they’ve produced a string of soulful acoustic songs, showing a special knack for writing good old-fashioned love songs like “Porch Swing Angel.”

8. Jimmie Allen

This artist is still working under radio’s radar, but he could blow at any minute. The Delaware native is a true country fanatic who hasn’t been afraid to sleep in his car for the shot at showing the honkey tonk set what he has to offer. His song “Blue Jean Baby” managed to rack up almost a million plays on Spotify without any help from a label, and there’s no saying how far he could go with some proper backing.

9. Caitlin Canty

In many ways, you could say that country has come a long way since it first grew out of front porch jam sessions, but artists like Caitlin Canty serve as a reminder that the old ways are still hanging on. She’s a girl with a guitar, a beautiful voice, and a songwriter’s soul. If you’re looking for an old-school singer-songwriter, then look no further.

10. Devin Dawson

We close up our list with another artist who has already made quite a splash. On paper, it’s easy to think that Devin Dawson might be off-putting. He’s a California native, he came up on YouTube covering Taylor Swift songs, and he looks like he could have been in a boy band back in the 90s. But when you hear his voice, all those background details drop away. He’s got a country road voice and as much Southern Swagger as a Cali boy can have. There’s a reason that Tim McGraw and Faith Hill invited him on tour with them, he’s the real deal.

Famous Country Music Venues

12 Famous Country Music Venues

Listening to recordings of your favorite country songs is all well and good, but to truly get the country experience you need to hear it live. Country music was born in bars, and on front porches, anywhere you could find space for a singer and a guitar. If you’re looking for live country, then you need to seek out some of the best venues this great country has to offer. Since hundreds of venues have helped make country music what it is today it can be hard to decide to choose between them all. To help you we’ve gone through them and picked out the twelve best, so you know where to go to get the best experience possible.

1. Grizzly Rose, Denver, CO

Skinny Dennis Country Venue

In the heart of the Rocky Mountains, you’ll find a country venue unlike any other, which of course we think is the most famous country venue you can find! Since 1989 the Grizzly Rose has brought artists like Garth Brooks, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Toby Keith to come tear it up in the heart of Denver. Beyond the world-class music, the Rose also comes equipped with a dining room, dance floor, smoke shop, pool room, and mechanical bulls. Add in weekly specials running from Tuesday to Sunday there’s always a reason to come on down to the Grizzly Rose.

2. Gruene Hall, New Braunfels, TX

Gruene Hall Famous Country Music Venue

If you want to really touch Country music history, then the Gruene Hall is a must visit. It’s been around since 1878, and it is still going strong after almost a century and a half. The best thing is that while other historic venues have changed with the times, the Gruene Hall’s owners have sought to preserve its unique character.

3. Skinny Dennis, New York City, NY

Skinny Dennis Country Venue

When you see the horseshoe on the door and step in to find a painting of Woodie Nelson looking down at you you’ll know that you’re not in Williamsburg anymore. This little slice of the South in Brooklyn is proof positive that Northerners know how to play country music with the best of them. All week long you’ll find live music on the stage and affordable beers behind the counter.

4. Grand Ole Opry House, Nashville, TN

Grand Ole Opry House Venue

No list of country music venues would be complete without mentioning the Grand Ole Opry. The Grand Ole Opry radio show has been broadcasting some of the best music around into homes across America since 1925. The show started out in a small venue and eventually demanded its own space, which lead to the construction of the Grand Ole Opry House in 1974. In the over forty years since it was built this venue has seen just about all of the legends of country music. Every country music fan should try and visit it at least once in their life.

5. Dusty Armadillo, Rootstown, OH

Dusty Armadillo Country Venue

Anyone looking for a night of peace and quiet should avoid the Dusty Armadillo. This is a place where the music is loud and the patrons are even louder. Even if you aren’t outgoing chances are you’ll get swept up in the spirit as the alcohol flows and the dancers tear it up on the floor all into the wee hours of the morning.

6. The Stage on Broadway, Nashville, TX

Stage on Broadway Famous Country Venue

If you want to see tomorrow’s country music stars today, then The Stage on Broadway is the place to be. It’s famous as the spot where musicians with dreams of stardom go to pay their dues as they make their way in Nashville. But the stage isn’t just about country music’s cutting edge; you’ll also find memorabilia owned by country music legends like Waylon Jennings decorating the walls.

7. Firehouse Saloon, Houston, TX

Firehouse Saloon Famous Venue

The name of this venue comes from the fact that it was founded by firefighters. More than that, after 20 years it’s still owned by a firefighter, so you can feel safe when you enter this honky tonk. With wooden floors and picnic tables to sit at this place is as authentic as you can get.

8. Bub City, Chicago, IL

Bub City Country Music Club

If you want to see how they get down country-style in Chicago then head on over to Bub City. All week long it’s a great little bar, but the place really lights up whenever there’s live music. Touring acts and locals alike take the stage on the weekends, while drinkers can get in on the action on Tuesdays for the best country karaoke night in Illinois.

9. Austin City Saloon, Lexington, KY

Austin City Saloon Country Saloon

Don’t let the name fool you, this venue is located in Kentucky. The name comes from the founders’ desire to bring a taste of Texas to Kentucky and that’s just what you’ll get when you visit the Austin City Saloon for drinks and dancing.

10. Coyote Joe’s, Charlotte, NC

Coyote Joes Country Venue

This venue is the place that country musicians hit up whenever they swing through North Carolina. It’s another venue that hosts line dancing lessons. Its atmosphere is very warm and inviting so if you’ve always wanted to try line dancing then Coyote Joe’s is the place to dive on in.

11. Bushwhackers Dance Hall & Saloon, Tualatin, OR

Bushwackers Country Dance Hall

This Oregon establishment is a small saloon with a big heart. It’s created a little community of country fans in the heart of Oregon by holding dance classes and bringing in some of the best country acts around for live shows every weekend. Just be warned, this venue’s size and popularity mean that by the end of the night it can get pretty crowded.

12. Billy Bob’s Texas, Fort Worth, TX

Billy Bobs Famous Texas Country Bar

In Texas, they like big steaks, big hats, and big honky tonks. Billy Bob’s Texas holds the title of the largest honky tonk in the world. The 100,000 square feet inside the building can hold up to six thousand country music fans at once! It was at Billy Bob’s that Merle Haggard earned the world record for biggest round ever purchased when he bought a crowd of over 5,000 fans a shot of whiskey. This venue has also been a star of TV and film, including George Strait’s 1992 classic Pure Country. Once you walk into Billy Bob’s, it’s clear why this honky-tonk is a star.

Mural to Country Music

How Did Country Music Get its Name?

There are some things in life that seem obvious until you take the time to actually examine them. The term country music is one of those things. If you’ve grown up listening to it and talking about it, then you’ve probably never questioned it. After all, it feels so natural and right. But at one-time music that we’d quickly identify as country wasn’t referred to by that name.

Mural to Country Music

Prepare to take a trip back in time to the creation of one of America’s greatest musical traditions.

Country music is the result of a musical melting pot.

What we now know as country music didn’t come into existence fully formed. In fact, you could say that it started out as a variety of different genres that would eventually converge to create country music as we know it. Like a tree with many roots coming together to support one great trunk.

Most of country music’s roots actually stretch across the Atlantic ocean. America is a country of immigrants and an immigrant always brings some of their homeland with them. Irish and Scottish immigrants were uniquely important because their music emphasized the fiddle, a musical instrument that still helps to define country music’s sound today. If you visit a pub in Ireland or Scotland today, you can still make out some of the influences that have carried over into modern country.

Bristol Sessions Country Music

Folk music from across America would come together in a town in Tennessee.

For centuries American folk music evolved organically as separate communities created music in relative isolation. Before the invention of the radio if someone in Atlanta wanted to hear music from New York they’d either have to make a grueling trek or wait for the rare touring artist to come by. Out in rural areas tours were even less common, so musical traditions formed in isolation.

For the people who created country music the songs that they were playing didn’t necessarily need a label. It was the music their parents listened to, the music their peers played, and the soundtrack to their lives in general. It was the people on the outside who needed to label the strange sounds that they were hearing.

The music truly expanded beyond the musicians themselves with the invention of recording. The first electrical recordings were done in the 1870s, but it wasn’t until the 1920s when it caught on with the public at large. Fiddin’ John Carson was one of the first artists to record what we might call country in 1923, but it wasn’t until 1927 when the musical genre we know today really took form. In Bristol, Tennessee a producer named Ralph Peer decided to capture the music of the south by bringing in a wide variety of artists to capture their music. The records he produced became so influential that the city of Bristol was named the “birthplace of country music” by the American government.

American Country Music

The popularity of country music demanded the creation of a new term.

In the 1930s country music took off, finally stretching beyond its geographic birthplace. As the music spread, outsiders started to look it with new eyes, searching for something to call it. Radio DJs, record company executives, and musical historians would look at the music coming out of rural America and give it a variety of terms. There was southern folk, western, hillbilly, and eventually country music. All of the terms would be used interchangeably for a while, but in the 1940s the term country and western won out over the rest. References to the south were too restrictive, and hillbilly seemed too insulting, so eventually the label country and western became the most popular term.

As time went by people started to drop the “western” from country and western music. This is a common trend in English, think about how rock and roll became rock. The most obvious reason for the change is just making the term easier to say, but you could also argue there’s a deeper reason. The term western was out of place because country music isn’t owned by the west or the east, the north or the south. While the physical heart of the country music industry is in Nashville, its spirit lives on across the the country and around the world.

ow Did Country Music Get Its Name

To this day country music continues to grow and change.

Country was given its name to suggest that it was the music of rural America. The city had music like classical, jazz, big band, and rock and roll. Then there was the music of the countryside, country music. But anyone who listens to country today knows that this distinction isn’t as clear as it might have been once upon a time. Today musicians of the countryside are influenced by musicians of the city and vice versa. After all these years the strength of country music is how it mixes together musical elements from just about every part of American society.

Earlier we talked about how the blues along with Celtic and Appalachian folk acted as the roots that supported the tree of country music. Today you can see how the genre continues to grow by branching out in many different directions. Country is mixing in with just about every other genre as American artists do what they do best, creating beauty out of differences.

Country Music Instruments

Country Music Instruments

Country has been a part of the music history ever since it separated from its roots (mainly folk music and western) and took on its current form.

There are quite a number of unique sub-genres to this music style, but they all have the same roots, and the easiest way to find a common element is by looking at the instruments. As the instruments vary to a very limited extent, it is possible to identify country music by its sound.

Now we will get into some of the most popular music Country music instruments and how they make this particular style different from the others.

Instruments for Country Music

Popular Traditional Instruments

The banjo is one of the most popular instruments when it comes to traditional Country Music.

It is not used as much in more recent generations of Country, but it remains as an icon for its special string sound, which makes Country music easily distinguishable. As an example we have the Nashville Sound, a subgenre of the Country Music which makes use of the banjo. The fiddle is another popular instrument and was usually combined in songs with the banjo. The song “The Devil Came Down to Georgia” by Charlie Daniels is a good example of a country style song using a fiddle.

The quick rhythm that is generally used with these Country music instruments and the high-pitched sounds are part of what makes a song sound Country. One can feel the influence in folk music and see how the tunes have their own personality, which makes this type of music different.

Country Music Guitars

Modern Country Music Instruments

When Country music became popular and was embraced by a larger amount of the population, the Country music industry developed and the composers and musicians who became recognized started using music instruments which were commonly used in other music styles, like Pop and Rock. At the same time, Country music started to be more interlaced with Pop and Rock music. Some widely known artists like Johnny Cash or Dolly Parton, use the guitar, bass and even drums in their Country style music.

As Country music became mixed with other styles, the direction that this particular genre took in terms of sound was rather slow paced. Most of the popular songs that people know nowadays are ballads, or songs with slow rhythms. There are obvious exceptions.

Creedence Clearwater is an example of a combination of Country music and Rock, that is why occasionally, his songs are more hard in terms of rhythm and pace.

Country Music Drums

What is the “Sound” of Country Music?

We have just mentioned that when Country music became popular, the instruments used became different. However, it should be important to note that the main focus on the Country music has always been the guitar and voice. As we said before, the songs became slower paced and the music artists used their voice and the guitar for their songs. As a good example, we have John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country roads” which relies upon vocals, or Johnny Cash’s “Hurt”, which is only his voice and a guitar.

So, what is the “sound” of Country Music? Nowadays, it would be difficult to define Country Music as something extremely specific, as it has several roots and influences.

Nevertheless, there is a common denominator that mainly all the artists follow, which is the importance of string-based instruments (banjo, guitar) and the voice. We have seen how the music has grown with times, but the roots are still strong and there are certainly a number of artists that are worth checking out in order to see how rich this music genre is.

Difference Between Bluegrass and Country

Difference Between Bluegrass and Country

Genres in music are like branches of a tree. Each one of them parts into a number of different little limbs, but they never leave their roots.

Bluegrass is usually considered a branch from country music. For that reason, sometimes it may get slightly complicated to tell them apart. However, while similar and overlapping in many ways, the two are still distinct and should not be confused with one another. We’ve created a comparative analysis documenting just what makes each genre stand out.

The Instrumentation of Bluegrass vs Country

Country and Bluegrass Music Difference

Country and Bluegrass are obviously very similar when it comes their instrumentation. As one may already know, one of the greatest most defining instruments of these genres would be the banjo, which is a time tested staple and has become quite popular even outside of country and bluegrass. Something similar could also be said for the fiddle and the harmonica. Nevertheless, there are some instruments that are more commonly used in one or in the other.

The use of accordions is quite popular in Country music. Even though we would be able to listen to this instrument in a Bluegrass style song, it’s not as common as in the first one.

As for Bluegrass music, it is generally known to be mainly focused on unamplified instruments. Because of this, the sound has a closer relationship with that of folk music. In addition, vocal harmonies are said to be quite distinctive of this genre. Sometimes among the different vocal harmonies, there is one which is sung in a higher pitch called the “high lonesome sound”.

Sound and Rhythm

Bluegrass vs Country Music

The difference between bluegrass and country is defined not only by the types of instrumented used, but also in how those instruments are used. The composition of songs are significantly different, and very easily distinguishable once you listen to a song in each style. Country music consists mainly of dance tunes and ballads focusing mainly on a steady rhythm. But with the many subgenres of country music that exist in this day and age, there is also an endless variety of paces and tones.

Nowadays, people also relate country music to Pop music, as the music industry is pushing some country composers’ careers forward, and making it more commercial and accessible.

However, Bluegrass music in general keeps to its origins and has a very specific type of sound, usually generated with a string instrument, which consists of a very quick plucking in high-pitched tones, sometimes combined with the “high lonesome sound”. It is considered to be more free regarding rhythm as well, generally related to improvisation. That last part is generally the main focus of the song.

Artists and Songs

Bill Monroe Bluegrass Music

Bill Monroe, featured in the picture above, is considered to be one of the biggest predecessors of Bluegrass music.

As a matter of fact, the name of this subgenre was attributed to his band name, which was “Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys”. Kentucky, also known as the Bluegrass state, was Bill Monroe’s place of origin.

Lastly, there is no better way to see how different each genre is than by having a good reference of the most iconic composers and artists.

As for examples of Bluegrass, notable examples are:

  • Foggy Mountain Breakdown – Earl Scruggs
  • Country Boy – Ricky Skaggs
  • Blue Moon of Kentucky – Bill Monroe

As for Country music, there are way more variants and the style is more eclectic, as it has had many generations of musicians along the history of music. There is a high number of iconic Country musicians and songs, some of them including:

  • Jolene – Dolly Parton
  • Hurt – Johnny Cash
  • On the Road Again – Willie Nelson
I Love Country Music

Confession: I Love Country Music

We wanted to find out why country music fans love the genre so much. We sat down with a country loving Grizzly Rose fan to get to the bottom of it! Here’s what we learned…

I have a confession to make… I love country music! The older I get, the less dramatic this confession gets, but growing up where I did all of the cool kids loved to rag on country music. I’ll never forget how people would say “I listen to everything but country and rap” when discussing their musical tastes. So for years, I ran away from the genre even as my parents blasted it from their speakers every day. Then one day I stopped running, and pretty soon I realized that I’d been missing out on a lot of fantastic music. Now I honestly believe that country music has something for everyone. You don’t have to like it all, but I’m pretty sure that if you read on and listen to the songs I’ve picked out you’ll find something that speaks to you.

It’s perfect for telling stories.

While musicians of every sort tell stories with their songs, I would say that no genre can spin a yarn like country. It’s in the genre’s DNA. Since the dawn of country music, its artists have been serenading listeners with everything from wild west epics to incredibly personal confessionals. “A Boy Named Sue” by Johnny Cash exemplifies country storytelling. It’s emotional, funny, and catchy as anything. There’s a reason that even people who say they hate country are quick to clarify that they still like The Man in Black.

It can stretch across cultural boundaries.

It’s easy for people to think that because country music is so tied to American culture that it can’t speak to people from other countries and cultures. But that’s far from the truth; country music speaks to universal human emotions while talking about American particulars. Once I was in the Philippines and ran into a girl who mentioned how she came from the boondocks. I was surprised to hear that kind of American slang, but she told me it was actually a Filipino word that was brought back to American when US troops returned from fighting there during the Spanish-American war. I told her I had just the song for her and played her the song “Boondocks” by Little Big Town. We listened to it together, and her eyes lit up. The songwriters probably didn’t even know they were using a Filipino word, but she said they might as well have been talking about her life in the Filipino countryside.

It lets me relive my life with musical flashbacks.

One song that brings me back like no other is “Courtesy Of The Red, White And Blue (The Angry American)” by Toby Keith. I wasn’t very young when the September 11 attacks happened, it was hard for me to process all of the emotions I felt. But when I heard this song playing on the radio it was like Toby was speaking to my soul. While good people of all stripes people disagree about the path America took after that tragedy, I think just about everyone felt the emotions that Toby cried out in that song. Every time I hear this song, it’s like a time machine that takes me back to that fateful day.

It taught me lessons I’ll never forget.

Songwriters have always used their art to pass down their hard-earned wisdom, but for my money, I’d say that country lyricists are some of the best. Kenny Chesney taught me how fast life could go by with “Don’t Blink.” But Keith Urban let me know that Tim McGraw taught me to be “Humble & Kind.” Carrie Underwood taught me never to try and pull a fast one on a country girl. But the song that taught me the most was “Unanswered Prayers” by Garth Brooks. In my life, I’ve wanted a lot of things. At the time it felt like I couldn’t live without them. But no matter how hard it was losing out on them, in then something else always came along. Even if you’re not religious, this song can serve as a powerful reminder that sometimes we need to hear no before we find what we’re really looking for.

It can be just plain fun.

So far I’ve focused on the deeper side of country music because it’s the side that most people don’t see. But while I love songs that bring me to tears I spend plenty of time listening to songs because they’re fun. There are songs for drinking, dancing, and having a laugh. “I’m Gonna Miss Her” by Brad Paisley is a favorite of mine, it never fails to bring a smile to my face. Deep and dark art might snatch up all the critical acclaim, but at the end of a long day, a bit of good clean fun is as good as gold.

Why Do You Love Country Music?

Australian Country Music

Australian Country Music

It might seem like country music is a uniquely American creation, but just like most other American creations, it has influenced artists around the world. One country that was especially receptive to American Country was Australia, a country with a shared English heritage and a range of geographic similarities. There are many comparisons that can be drawn between the American West and the Australian outback, so it really shouldn’t be that surprising that Australian folk music evolved to sound similar to American country even before American country music made an impact down under. To give you an idea of what Australian country music is like, let’s look at four artists that show off what the genre has to offer.

Slim Dusty

Slim Dusty’s song Cunnamulla Fella was so influential that it was honored by a statue outside the Cunnamulla Shire hall.

The first thing you need to know about Slim Dusty is that some argue he created the genre. Folk music existed all throughout Australia’s history, but Dusty brought together Australian folk, American country influences, and outback culture to create an image and a sound that would define Australian country for decades to go.

He was born in Nulla Nulla Creek New South Wales in 1927 and started writing and recording in 1946. From that year until his death in 2003 Dusty would record 73 solo studio albums, eight collaborative albums, and another eight live albums. When you add in his compilation records, you get more than 100 albums that would sell millions of copies within Dusty’s lifetime. And he did all of this without going international. Dusty’s career had many highlights, but he reached his largest audience when he performed “Waltzing Matilda” for the world to see as part of the Sydney Olympics’ closing ceremony.

Top Slim Dusty Songs

  • A Pub with No Beer
  • Duncan
  • The Answer to a Pub with No Beer

Lee Kernaghan

“Boys From The Brush” was the opening track on Kernaghan’s breakout album, The Outback Club.

The music produced by Lee Kernaghan will be familiar to anyone who’s a fan of 90s country. As an artist, Kernaghan sought to make American-style music about quintessentially Australian topics. Kernaghan didn’t just sing about the rural life in Australia; he has also done plenty of charity work to help deal with issues like droughts and rural poverty. The “Pass The Hat Around Australia” tour and “Spirit Of The Bush” concert series have helped to alleviate poverty and cement Kernaghan’s position as one of rural Australia’s favorite artists. Since his debut release in 1985 Lee has released 18 albums. Out of those nine have gone platinum and four have gone gold. His art and his activism would help to earn him the Order of Australia Medal, the title of Australian of the year, and a heaping helping of other awards.

Top Lee Kernaghan Songs

  • Missin’ Slim
  • Spirit Of The Bush
  • Spirit Of The Anzacs

Kasey Chambers

“Not Pretty Enough” was Chambers’ biggest hit, peaking at number one on the Australian ARIA Charts and receiving a double platinum certification in the country.

The work of Kasey Chambers is reminiscent of the pop-country crossover music that came to dominate the radio waves during the 2000s. Chambers was born in 1976 in Mount Gambier, South Australia. She grew up in a musical family, both her father Bill Chambers and her sister nash Chambers are Australian country music artists. She released her debut album, The Captain, in 1999. The album would help her earn the Most Performed Country Work award at the 2001 Aria Awards and Songwriter of the year in 2002.

While her debut album did well, her second album shot her to the heights of fame. The song “Not Pretty Enough” off of her 2001 album Barricades and Brickwalls would represent her commercial peak but her follow up albums would continue to sell well. Over the course of her career, she’s released eight solo records and three collaborative albums. Out of those releases, five have been certified platinum, and one reached gold. Her latest album, 2017’s Dragonfly, peaked at number 1 on the Australian Charts.

Top Kasey Chambers Songs

  • Not Pretty Enough
  • True Colours
  • Nothing at All

Sara Storer

“Buffalo Bill” wasn’t just the Storer’s first successful song; it was actually the first song she ever wrote!

There are plenty of Country artists who grew up far away from the rural environments they sing about. Sara Storer is not one of those artists; she grew up on a farm in Wemen, Victoria. Unlike other artists, she wasn’t single-mindedly focused on becoming a musician. Instead, she trained to become a teacher and worked as one. She didn’t write her first song until she was in her twenties. The experience of writing the song went so well that Sorer decided to become a singer songwriter. She would tour the country in between classes until she was finally signed and released her debut record in 2000.

Her next two albums would build on the success of her debut until she reached the top of the Australian country charts with her 2005 album Firefly. To date, she’s released six studio albums and one compilation albums, two of which have gone gold in Australia. Her later albums haven’t sold as many copies as her earlier hits, but her 2016 record Silos was her first to win Best Country Album at the Aria Music Awards.

Top Sara Storer Songs

  • Buffalo Bill
  • Come on Rain
  • Children Of The Gurindji
Country Music City

What is the Best Country Music City?

Every music genre has a handful of cities that have defined their history and evolution. Whether it’s because of their reputation as a prime concert destination or because of their connection to famous musicians, there is no denying these city’s importance to their genre. Country music is much the same. We’ve gone through and compiled a list of some of the most important and famous country music cities.

1. Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville Country Music City

The first place most people think of when it comes to country music destinations, Nashville time and time again has carved out a name for itself in country music history.

While it’s inclusion in this list at number one is almost a bit too obvious, there’s still no better choice for such a lofty position. Nashville contains the largest country music museum in the country, with anyone who was or is anyone in country music having a spot in its country music hall of fame.

2. Bakersfield, California

Bakersfield Country Music City

What many consider to be the “Nashville of the West Coast,” Bakersfield is known for its eponymous “Bakersfield Sound” which served as a precursor to the popular sub genre of outlaw country. It also houses a venue known as “The Crystal Palace,” a restaurant, dancehall, and concert stage founded by one of the legends in West Coast country music himself, Buck Owens.

The town has been known to have been a favorite haunt of such country music stars as Merle Haggard and Wynn Stewart.

3. Denver, Colorado

Country Music City Denver

Home to a thriving country music community, a great number of country-themed bars and social gatherings can be found here. The largest of which being the Grizzly Rose itself, a huge concert space, dance hall, memorabilia shop, and bar all rolled into one. Those looking to interact with other country music fans and listen to world renowned artists giving live performances need look no further than Denver.

One of the hallmark outposts in the days of the Wild West, the spirit of the West is still alive in well in Denver and is carried over to its country music.

4. Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis Country Music City

The resting place of “The King” himself, Elvis Presley. While he might have been known as the king of Rock’n’Roll, Elvis incorporated many country and blues elements into his songs. In fact, the entire rockabilly sub-genre which Elvis helped pioneer has its roots planted deeply in country music.

Memphis is a testament to how culturally important Country has been to other forms of popular music.

5. Dallas, Texas

Dallas Country Music City

Those visiting Dallas will find greasy food, shady saloons, and country music festivals galore awaiting them. This historic city resting right in the heart of the West has been inspiration for a great number of cowboy ballads across the years.

It doesn’t get any more authentic cowboy than in Dallas, the same goes for its country music.

6. Louisville, Kentucky

Louisville Country Music City

Known for their world class famous wooden baseball bat brand, the “Louisville Slugger,” Louisville is also home to famous country singer/songwriters, Bonnie Billy and Tim Krekel.

There are plenty of country music events regularly hosted in Louisville such as concerts and line dancing. Those looking to see what the East coast has to offer in terms of country will find plenty of it in spade here in Louisville.

7. Chicago, Illinois

Chicago Country Music City

While maybe not one of the largest music capitols, Chicago is definitely the most varied. From bluegrass, to jazz and even hiphop, Chicago has played an important role in the history of many music genres. Country is of course no exception to this rule, with Chicago being the home to a a country music sound heavily inspired by the blues background of the city.

Catch a show at one of Chicago’s many fine saloons and country music bars in order to check out the city’s unique take on country music!

8. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia Country Music City

The city of brotherly love is not only an important historical site to America’s heritage, but also the to heritage of country music.

Home to a bevy of folk musicians over the years, the music of Pennsylvania is American as it gets. This patriotism, history, and tradition has bled over into its country music scene, making the sound as authentically American as good old apple pie.

9. Muscle Shoals, Alabama

Muscle Shoals Country Music City

Home to famed country music recording labels, Muscle Shoals sound studio and FAME sound studios, this town has been an instrumental part of country music’s legacy. Both sound studios are still around and actively being used to produce records, keeping the town relevant even to today’s country music scene.

Because of the town’s connection to the recording industry, many modern up and coming country musicians can be found giving live performances in the bars around the town hoping to get their big break.

10. Branson, Missouri

Branson Country Music City

Once a sleepy town with not much to its name, Branson’s popularity began to explode in the 1980’s and 1990’s thanks to its country music scene. The city was home to live performances of both Waylon Jennings and Loretta Lynn, leading to its current reputation as a country music concert destination.

Currently, the city is home to Clay Cooper who hosts regular performances in the city.

11. Dyess, Arkansas

Dyess Country Music City

While not a terribly large town with very few country music venues, this spot nevertheless is worth visiting to fans of country music. Why you ask? It was where legendary country singer Johnny Cash grew up and is where his childhood home still stands to this day.

Those interested in visiting Johnny Cash’s boyhood home will be very pleased to know that it has been opened to the public as a museum and is one of many Johnny Cash related tourism opportunities to be found in the city.

12. Austin, Texas

Austin Country Music City

Austin has earned itself the moniker of “the live music capital.” While other cities might still trump Austin when it comes to their focus on country music, Austin is not without its fair share of designated honky tonks and country music bars.

Those looking for a good beer and some country tunes should be sure to check out the Broken Spoke, Ginny’s Little Longhorn, and Gruene Hall while down in Austin.

13. Jacksonville, Florida

Jacksonville Country City

The origin city of several southern rock musicians such as the Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd, Jacksonville has had as much of an impact on rock as it has country. The musicians that have come from this town all embody an edgy blend of country and rock sounds.

Famous country musician Tim McGraw also got his start in Jacksonville before eventually moving to Nashville.

14. Athens, Georgia

Athens Country Music City

Known as the “Liverpool of the South,” Athen’s reputation is mainly of that as an indie rock and new wave capital. What many people do not know however, is that the city has also made several contributions to the country scene as well, mainly when it comes to experimenting with fusion music.

A sort of mad science laboratory, the musicians of Athens are known for blending country elements into other genres such as rock, grunge, and even hip-hop.

15. Knoxville, Tennessee

Knoxville Country Music City

Knoxville has at one point been an important place to many country music stars such as Hank Williams, Dolly Parton, and the Everly Brothers.

Those looking to learn more about Knoxville’s storied history and relationship with country music are in luck, as one can take a tour known as the “Cradle of Country Music” which goes through some of the most famous spots of downtown Knoxville.

A country road trip to some of the top country music cities across the country is a fantastic idea for any country music fan. Check out our list of country road trip essentials!

90s Country Music

90s Country Music

Every decade of the 20th century has seen the introduction of huge cultural shifts across America. The 90’s were no exception, especially as far as country music is concerned. Those with a fondness for both the 90’s as well as 90s country music might be interested in learning more about the significance that era would have on the country music industry.

The Nashville Sound and The Rise Of Early Country

90s Country Music

First in order to understand the historical context of country music in the 1990’s, one must first look a bit earlier in history. Believe it or not, country wasn’t always a big mainstream genre. Much like many other types of longstanding music genres, it’s gone through it’s fair share of ups and downs.

After a slump in the 1940’s, Country music saw a revival in the 1950’s thanks to something called the “Nashville Sound.” During this time, country music underwent an evolution in which it would incorporate many elements in an attempt to widen its appeal to a much larger audience.
This lead to a period of prosperity and popularity for the country music genre which would last for at least a decade.

Country Rises Again, The Resurgence of Mainstream Country

Country Music in 90s

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and eventually country would fall out of the public consciousness for some time. This all changed in the 1990’s, as a series of events and artists would once again swing the genre back into popular culture.

Much like when the original Nashville Sound brought country back into the limelight, 90s country music took many influences from contemporary pop music and incorporated country elements. This newer, more modern sound mixed with the rise of FM radio in suburban areas saw an even greater level of accessibility for country to reach the masses.

The Artists and Songs That Would Define 90s Pop Country

90s Country Music Songs

Of course, an era in music is not without its fair share of songs, artists, and albums that would end up defining that period of time. The following list provides a shining example of the types of songs and artist which uplifted country to new heights in the 90’s.

Ken Mellons: Jukebox Junkie

The jukebox holds a special place within both rock’n’roll and country music. Both genres can be enjoyed at a variety of social establishments, from restaurants to bars. In a public space, the jukebox is a way for fans of music to share their favorite songs and tastes with each other. In this song, Ken Mellons encaptures this special meaning that the jukebox holds to country music fans.

Dolly Parton: Silver and Gold

Much like Chet Atkins and Patsy Cline were at the forefront of the original Nashville Sound, Dolly Parton has been one of the figureheads of the 1990’s country revival and the modern face of Nashville branded country music.

Shania Twain: Any Man of Mine

America’s sweetheart, Shania Twain’s music was loved by all during this era, country music fan or no. In fact, it wouldn’t be too wrong to say that Shania Twain could be considered the Taylor Swift of the 90’s, as they have both enjoyed much success and popularity both in and out of mainstream markets.

Garth Brooks: The Dance

Some would argue that much of 90’s country’s success was only possible because of the multitude of hits Garth Brooks contributed early on into the 90’s. Regardless of how much you think he’s contributed to the genre, it’s hard to deny that Garth Brooks definitely was one of the top artists of the decade.

Billy Ray Cyrus: Achy Breaky Heart

Before there was Miley Cyrus there was her father, Billy Ray Cyrus. While an incredibly talented artist with plenty of great songs under his name, it was Achy Breaky Heart which ended up being Billy Ray Cyrus’ breakout hit.

Dixie Chicks: Wide Open Spaces

You can’t talk about the 90’s without mentioning the Dixie Chicks. Even the toughest of guys might admit to owning at least one of their albums. They were a cultural force that simply couldn’t be escaped from as they produced hit after hit. Wide Open Spaces is one of many recognizable country tunes which took America by wildfire.