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American roots music

From Academic Kids

American art
Architecture - Comics - Cuisine - Dance - Folklore - Literature - Movies - Painting - Poetry - Sculpture - Television - Theater - Visual arts
Music of the United States
History (Timeline) Ethnicities
to 1900 African American
1900-1940 Native American: Inuit and Hawaiian
40s and 50s Latin: Tejano and Puerto Rican
60s and 70s Cajun and Creole
80s to the present Other immigrants: Irish and Scottish
Genres (Samples): Classical - Hip hop - Rock - Pop - Folk
Awards Grammy Awards, Country Music Awards
Charts Billboard Music Chart
Festivals New Orleans Jazz Festival, Lollapalooza, Lilith Fair, Ozzfest, Woodstock Festival, Monterey Jazz Festival
Media Spin, Rolling Stone, Vibe, Downbeat, Source, MTV, VH1
National anthem "The Star-Spangled Banner" and forty-nine state songs
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American roots music is a broad category of music including country music, bluegrass, gospel, ragtime, jug bands, Appalachian folk, blues, Tejano and Cajun and Native American music. The music is considered "American" because it is either native to the United States or here varied enough from its origins 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 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.

Notable roots musicians include Woody Guthrie, Son House, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Leadbelly, Mahalia Jackson, Washington Phillips, Fiddlin' John Carson (1868 - 1949) and Jean Ritchie (b 1922). More recent musicians who occasionally or consistently play roots music include Keb' Mo', Béla Fleck, Iron & Wine, and Ricky Skaggs. Additionally, the soundtrack to the 2000 comedy 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 a documentary series on PBS in 2001.


External links

American roots music
Appalachian | Blues (Ragtime) | Cajun and Creole (Zydeco) | Country (Honky tonk and Bluegrass) | Jazz | Native American | Spirituals and Gospel | Tejano
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