The Rise of Country Music

Country Music’s Recent Rise in Popularity


Photo courtesy

Recent breakout country singer Zach Bryan performing

Foster Neely, Student Life Editor

Country music has been a staple of American culture for as long as anyone can remember. With a recent rise in the popularity of country music, it is helpful for new listeners to know the roots of today’s country music, and to know what artists came before and forged the genre into what it is today.

Traditional country music can be dated back to the early 20th century, but the roots run back to the 17th century, when European and African immigrants brought their musical traditions and instruments to America. Because of the diverse cultures present in America, country music has influences from many different cultures.

Charles Crenshaw (10) has enjoyed country music for three years, and his favorite artist is Zach Bryan.

“My favorite thing about country music is the storytelling aspect that many singers include in their songs. I am very excited to see Zach Bryan and Tyler Childers at the Railbird Music Festival this summer because they often include storytelling in their songs,” Crenshaw said.

Country music has been growing in popularity since its creation, but there has been a drastic spike in recent listeners, due in part to streaming services allowing the mass distribution of music. Artists from the 1980s-2000s like George Strait, Garth Brooks and Tim McGraw made their money off of selling albums and being played on the radio, but popular culture has shifted more towards streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music.

Two of the most popular country singers that have recently broken into the scene are Morgan Wallen and Zach Bryan. Morgan Wallen started his musical journey as a contestant on NBC’s “The Voice,” while Zach Bryan gained popularity through YouTube videos of his original songs that went viral. Morgan Wallen’s most recent album “One Thing at a Time” sold the equivalent of 501,000 albums, and Zach Bryan’s “American Heartbreak” sold 702,000 albums in the US alone as of October 2022.

Eliza Hammett (12) was introduced to country music by her boyfriend and has loved it ever since.

“My favorite aspect of country music is that it tells personal and relatable stories through song lyrics. Morgan Wallen is my favorite artist because his music caters to teenagers and young adults like me,” Hammett said.

While Morgan Wallen and Zach Bryan are two mainstream examples of the recent popularity in country music, there are also popular musicians and bands who have gained recognition with more original styles of country music. Artists like Colter Wall and Charley Crockett incorporate Western cowboy elements into their music, and musicians like Billy Strings, Tyler Childers and Chris Stapleton infuse their music with traditional bluegrass music.

Sallie Barre (12) has been listening to country music for her whole life and her favorite album is Zach Bryan’s “American Heartbreak.”

“Growing up my family has always listened to country music around the house, in the car, at the beach, just everywhere. My favorite aspect of country music is how open-ended it can be. It can be fast or slow, sad or happy. It allows artists to be creative and for songs to be very unique,” Barre said.