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Do you listen to country music? More than 40 percent of Americans do, according to the Country Music Association. CMA also found those fans are younger and less white than ever — and they aren’t all poor Southerners, either. Like its listeners, today’s country music is more nuanced than outsiders might think.
In a boot-scootin’ 1A, we look at what country is, who it’s for, and where it’s headed, as pop stars like Beyoncé dip into the genre, and back-to-the-roots country singers Sturgill Simpson and Chris Stapleton earn mainstream accolades.
- Jocelyn Neal Professor of American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the author of Country Music, and co-author of Country Music, USA.
- Amanda Petrusich Contributing writer, The New Yorker; author of “Do Not Sell at Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78rpm Records"
- Sam Outlaw Country music singer-songwriter.
- Kristian Bush Singer, songwriter and producer, and one half of the group Sugarland.
- Kurt Bardella Author of the Morning Hangover Tipsheet, a newsletter about country music, and a PR consultant.
Your Favorite Country Songs
We asked: If you wanted to convince someone to listen to country music, but could only play them one song, what would it be? Here’s a sample of the responses:
@1a “Watch the Wind Blow By” by Tim McGraw. He’s really the only country artist I like.
— hodge podge (@lauralauralarfs) February 10, 2017
@1a Oh Sarah, by Sturgill Simpson
— geoffrey crowe (@GA_Crowe) February 10, 2017
@1a working man blues, Merle Haggard. For that matter any thing by Merle
— Tom Sheets (@Sh1Thomas) February 12, 2017
@1a Why Don’t We Just Dance by Josh Turner
— Sarah Gullickson (@ghoullickson) February 10, 2017
— Laura Frese (@LauraSoo) February 10, 2017
@1a Record Year by Eric Church
— Renee Gennarelli (@redfox1235) February 10, 2017
@1a fancy by Reba mcentire
Or check yes or no by George strait
— Tad Hopp (@taderpillar) February 10, 2017
@1a Rex’s Blues by Townes Van Zandt
— Ellie Dudding (@elliedudding) February 11, 2017
@1a the Dixie Chicks’ interlude of “Long Time Gone” in Beyoncé’s “Daddy Lessons” performance at the CMAs. Great blending of musical genres 🌟
— Dakotah James 🏳️🌈 (@itsdakotah) February 12, 2017
@1a Jolene by Dolly Parton
— jema (@jema5445) February 10, 2017
@1a The Gambler by Kenny Rogers
— Kurt Almendras (@teacherkurt) February 11, 2017
@1a Patsy Cline. Crazy? Just, anything she sang.
— Liz (@lizzieyjs) February 10, 2017
@1a Joanne by Michael Nesmith.
— J Corley (@jlhcorley) February 12, 2017
@1a Kacey Musgraves, “Follow Your Arrow”
— (((Gabe Rosenberg))) (@GabrielJR) February 12, 2017
— Corey Schreppel (@coreyschreppel) February 10, 2017
Playlist Of Songs Mentioned On The Show
Sturgill Simpson's Tiny Desk Concert
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