Country Music Genres Family Tree

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Country music Sub-Genres

Early Country

Rooted in folk and Appalachian music, characterized by simple melodies and instruments like the fiddle and banjo.

Bands: The Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers.


Romanticized the American West with artists like Gene Autry and Hank Williams.

Bands: Gene Autry, Hank Williams, Bob Wills.

Western Swing

A dance-oriented country style blending jazz, swing, and country, popularized by Bob Wills.

Bands: Gene Autry, Hank Williams, Bob Wills.


Country music is a genre of American popular music that originated in the rural regions of the Southern United States in the 1920s. It takes its roots from genres such as folk music (especially Appalachian folk and Western music) and blues.

Bands: Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn


Fast-paced, acoustic style led by Bill Monroe, Lester Flatt, and Earl Scruggs.

Bands: Bill Monroe, Lester Flatt, and Earl Scruggs.


Fusion of rock and country, pioneered by Sam Phillips with stars like Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash.

Bands: Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash

Nashville Sound

Polished production style making country mainstream, featuring Patsy Cline and Jim Reeves.

Bands: Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Jim Reeves.


Folk music includes traditional music that has been passed through generations by oral tradition and modern music that follows the traditions of folk in instruments and composition. It often emphasizes acoustic instrumentation and meaningful lyrics.

Bands: Joan Baez, Peter Paul and Mary, Joni Mitchell (1960's period)

Outlaw Country

Reaction against Nashville's polished sound, emphasizing raw, authentic lyrics and styles.

Bands: Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings

Pop Influences

Artists like John Denver bridged country and pop music.

Bands: John Denver

progressive country

Progressive country is a term used variously to describe a movement, radio format or subgenre of country music which developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s as a reaction against the slick, pop-oriented Nashville sound. Emmylou Harris was called the founding mother of progressive country and Americana. The Byrds' Sweetheart of the Rodeo is considered a seminal progressive country album.

Bands: the Marshall Tucker Band, the Flying Burrito Brothers, the Charlie Daniels Band

Country Pop

Blending country with pop elements, leading to crossover success.

Bands: Garth Brooks, Shania Twain, George Strait.

see also Garth Brooks albums discography

see also Shania Twain albums discography


A return to traditional country sounds with modern production

Bands: The Desert Rose Band, The Mavericks, Alabama

Modern Country

Incorporates elements from rock, pop, and hip-hop.

Bands: Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift,

Alternative country

Alternative country (commonly abbreviated to alt-country; also known as alternative country rock, insurgent country, Americana, or y'allternative is a loosely defined subgenre of country music and/or country rock that includes acts that differ significantly in style from mainstream country music

Bands: Lady A, Florida Georgia Line, Jason Aldean. Wilco, Son Volt and Bottle Rockets

Christian country

sometimes marketed as country gospel, gospel country, positive country or inspirational country) is music that is written to express either personal or a communal belief regarding Christian life

Bands: Oak Ridge Boys, Mercy River Boys, The Cook Family Singers, Red Sovine, The Louvin Brothers and The Carter Family

play my version of Willin' by Little Feat

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