Minnie Pearl's hearty "How-dee!" all the way from Grinder's Switch, price tag swinging from her hat. Songs with lyrics such as "Dropkick me, Jesus, through the goal posts of lite End over end, neither left nor right / Straight through the heart of them righteous uprights." Superstars of today, like Shania Twain and Garth Brooks, rocking sold-out stadium arenas all over the United States.
Such diverse images make up the rich identity of country music, a distinctly American sound that arguably speaks straighter from the heart than any other musical genre. Instead of a simple cultural fonn, country music embraces a jaw-dropping diversity of styles, ranging from Cajun to Bluegrass, from country rock to honky-tonk, and so on.
The new series the Country Music Anneal, edited by Charles Wolfe and James Akenson, promises to enter the debate by examining the booming interest of popular music studies. The first and only country music scholarly publication of its kind-where scholars, students and interested readers can en joy a forum for sharing research and ideas-the Country Music Annual boasts two extraordinarily qualified editors to lead the publication to the status of recognized authority on its subject.
This inaugural issue of the Annual covers a wide scope, with contributors exploring such topics as Southern humor recording technology, song and lyric structure, using country music a= a teaching strategy, diverse audiences and performers, the complex relationship between country music; and religion, and the role of country music in the literary fiction of Lee Smith.
The Country Music Annual strikes up a loving conversation between scholars and the genre that gave America such richly-structured and cleverly-written songs as "You're Out Doing What I'm Here Doing Without" and "Makin' Love Don't Make It Love." This art form, so long ignored by scholars, fnally receives its fair consideration as major American folk music that appeals even today to an amazingly diverse cross-section of the population.
Wolfe and Akenson's cohesive Country Music Annual follows the aftershocks of the musical country-quake, tracing the music and personas of Merle Haggard, George Jones, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson and Emmylou Harris, all the way up to modern-day musical powerhouse Shania Twain. The Annual provides a cross-section of essays looking at this uniquely American art form that promises to get larger and richer as the years pass.
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Charles K. Wolfe, professor of English and folklore at Middle Tennessee State University, is the author of Kentucky Country: Folk and Country Music of Kentucky and numerous other books and articles or. music. James E. Akenson, professor of Curriculum and Instruction at Tennessee Technological University, is the author of several articles on country music.
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