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American folk music: Wikis


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Music of the United States
History - Education
Colonial era - to the Civil War - During the Civil War - Late 19th century - Early 20th century - 40s and 50s - 60s and 70s - 80s to the present
Genres: Classical - Folk - Hip hop - Pop - Rock - Christian pop
Awards Grammy Awards, Country Music Awards, Gospel Music Awards
Charts Billboard Music Chart, American Top 40
Festivals Jazz Fest, Lollapalooza, Ozzfest, Monterey Jazz Festival
Media Spin, Rolling Stone, Vibe, Down Beat, Source, MTV, VH1
National anthem "The Star-Spangled Banner" and forty-eight state songs
Ethnic music
Native American - English: old-time and Western music - African American - Irish and Scottish - Latin: Tejano and Puerto Rican - Cajun and Creole - Hawaii - Other immigrants
Local music
AK - AL - AR - AS - AZ - CA - CO - CT - DC - DE - FL - GA - GU - HI - IA - ID - IL - IN - KS - KY - LA - MA - MD - ME - MI - MN - MO - MP - MS - MT - NC - ND - NE - NH - NM - NV - NJ - NY - OH - OK - OR - PA - PR - RI - SC - SD - TN - TX - UT - VA - VI - VT - WA - WI - WV - WY
See also Americana or Americana (music)

American folk music, also known as roots music, is a broad category of music including Bluegrass, country music, gospel, old time music, jug bands, Appalachian folk, blues, Cajun and Native American music. The music is considered American either because it is native to the United States or because it developed there, out of foreign origins, to such a degree that it struck musicologists as something distinctly new. It is considered "roots music" because it served as the basis of music later developed in the United States, including rock and roll, rhythm and blues, and jazz.


Roots music

Many Roots musicians do not consider themselves to be folk musicians; the main difference between the American folk music revival and American "Roots music" is that Roots music seems to cover a slightly broader range, including blues and country.

Roots musical forms reached their most expressive and varied forms in the first two to three decades of the 20th century. The Great Depression and the Dust Bowl were extremely important in disseminating these musical styles to the rest of the country, as Delta blues masters, itinerant honky tonk singers and Latino and Cajun musicians spread to cities like Chicago, Los Angeles and New York. The growth of the recording industry in the same approximate period was also important; increased possible profits from music placed pressure on artists, songwriters and label executives to replicate previous hit songs. This meant that fads like Hawaiian slack-key guitar never died out completely as rhythms or instruments or vocal stylings were incorporated into disparate genres. By the 1950s, all the forms of roots music had led to pop-oriented forms. Folk musicians like the Kingston Trio, pop-Tejano and Cuban-American fusions like boogaloo, chachacha and mambo, blues-derived rock and roll and rockabilly, pop-gospel, doo wop and R&B (later secularized further as soul music) and the Nashville sound in country music all modernized and expanded the musical palette of the country.

The roots approach to music emphasizes the diversity of American musical traditions, the genealogy of creative lineages and communities, and the innovative contributions of musicians working in these traditions today. In recent years roots music has been the focus of popular media programs such as Garrison Keillor's public radio program A Prairie Home Companion and the feature film by the same name.


In 2004 NPR published the book titled The NPR Curious Listener's Guide To American folk music[1], Linda Ronstadt wrote the foreword.

Artists and Musicians

Notable roots musicians have included Jelly Roll Morton, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Robert Johnson, Bessie Smith, Burl Ives, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Son House, Leadbelly, Hazel Dickens, Jimmie Rodgers, Bill Monroe, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, Roy Acuff, Hank Williams, Merle Travis, Townes Van Zandt, Johnny Cash, Maggie Simpson, Mahalia Jackson, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, Washington Phillips, Fiddlin' John Carson (1868 - 1949), Johnny Richardson (1908-present; children's folk music), Willie Nelson, and Jean Ritchie. More recent musicians who occasionally or consistently play roots music include Keb' Mo', Ralph Stanley, Jewel, John Denver, Chris Castle, Ricky Skaggs, and Jeremy Fisher, Arlo Guthrie, Joan Baez, Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul & Mary.

Film and TV

Additionally, the soundtrack to the 2000 film O Brother, Where Art Thou? is exclusively roots music, performed by Alison Krauss, The Fairfield Four, Emmylou Harris, Norman Blake and others. The 2003 film A Mighty Wind is a tribute to (and parody of) the folk-pop musicians of the early 1960s.

American roots music was the subject of the 4-part documentary series American Roots Music on PBS in 2001.

Nut Hill Productions, Inc., is now in production on a comprehensive documentary entitled "The Music of America: History Through Musical Traditions," with an anticipated release date in winter of 2009.

See also

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