A Walk in the Country by Charlene Sands


As I watched CMA’s Music Festival from the comfort of my own home the other evening, I was smiling and singing along with the artists as they sashayed across a stage that reached thousands in the audience and millions through their television screens.

Jimmie Rodgers
Hank Williams

Gosh, I love country music so much that it never occurred to me that there were so many different variations of what was once known as hillbilly music.   As I delved into country music’s bright history, I learned that this new form of music derived in the southern United States was brought forth in the 1920’s and originated in Atlanta, Georgia, not Nashville, Tennessee.  It has been argued that Atlanta be known for the birth of Country Music.  Country music was delivered by way of working class Americans bringing their own backgrounds and culture to the city by blending popular songs, Irish and Celtic fiddle tunes, blues, cowboy songs and traditional ballads.  And nearly a century later country music has climbed the ranks to become the most listened to rush hour music during the evening commute, coming a close second to the most listened to morning rush hour commute.



Some of the most renowned artists of the 1920’s were “Fiddlin’ John Carson in 1923 (Okey Records) and Samantha Bumgarner in 1924 (Columbia Records) and then in 1927 RCA Victor Records (remember them?) recorded the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers. During the Great Depression radio sales were down, but country music became a very popular form of entertainment with “barn dance” shows that transmitted all over the South and from Chicago to California. In 1925 the Grand Ole Opry made its debut from Nashville and it continues on in glorious fashion today.Grand_Ole_Opry

The first commercial recordings of what was considered country music were “Arkansas Traveler” and “Turkey in the Straw” on June 30, 1922, for Victor Records and released in April 1923.  Columbia began issuing records with “hillbilly” music (series 15000D “Old Familiar Tunes”) as early as 1924.[8]

And later, the popularity of movie westerns only seemed to spur on (pardon the pun) the country music industry.   But like everything else in the world, country music evolved and branched off into different genres from bluegrass to gospel, from hillbilly to country boogie, from honkytonk to rockabilly and country rock.  In 1956 the number two, three and four songs on Billboard’s charts for that year were Elvis Presley, “Heartbreak Hotel“; Johnny Cash, “I Walk the Line“; and Carl Perkins, “Blue Suede Shoes“.[45]

Johnny Cash
Johnny Cash


Willie Nelson helped coin the genre “country outlaw” and megastars like Taylor Swift have delivered us “pop country.”  While Carrie Underwood (my favorite female vocalist) has been branded a “country rock” musician.   I might also mention icons such as Dolly Parton, Garth Brooks, Kenny Rogers and Barbara Mandrell, who all made an indelible mark on country music.carrie-underwood

Do you remember Barbara Mandrell sayin’  “I was country when country wasn’t cool.”

So much music, so little time!

Do you like country music?  What type of country appeals to you most? And if you could meet one of the legends of country either living or dead, who would you choose?    Can you guess who I’d choose?  Play along for a chance to win a copy of one of my available backlist books of your choice! Winner chosen at random on Saturday so be sure to check back! 

 (PS, not Carrie, although I would love to meet her!)

Grand Ole Opry pic by Deirdre 11:55, 27 February 2007 (UTC) – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Twins for the Texan_Sand
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41 thoughts on “A Walk in the Country by Charlene Sands”

  1. I love country music too! My favorite female vocalist is Carrie Underwood (I like her earlier music better than the rockish sound of some of her songs). My favorite male has always been George Strait. However, I love Kenny Rogers and Lee Greenwood. Lee’s mom was a friend of mine and I came to know Lee quite well going to all his local concerts and being invited backstage to chat.

    Cindy W.

    • Hi Cindy! How cool that you got a chance to meet Lee Greenwood. I adore his patriotic songs! I liked Carrie then, too, but I still like her music today. I have her greatest hits and know all the words! :0

  2. I grew up with country music because my dad was a country musician, and my grandfather on the other side of my family played fiddle, so I can’t recall all the real shows and the at-home sessions and spontaneous parties I heard country music way back when. I remember hearing songs my dad played by Hank Williams, Hank Snow, Ernest Tubb and early Johnny Cash.

    In my early adult years I mostly liked Linda Ronstadt and the Eagles, much of which we played in my soft rock band (ages 15 to 35). I used to travel a lot and my white-line-fever favorites were Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings hands-down when I was on the road. For the last dozen plus years or so my hands down favorite is Toby Keith, who I play most of the time these days over any kind of music or musician. I do sometimes listen to Alan Jackson (my mom’s favorite), Travis Tritt, Lee Roy Parnell, and Montgomery Gentry but I never ever listen to country pop–just so not for me.

    My uncle–another lifetime musician–and I always went to shows by the Everly Brothers and Wayon Jennings when we used to have a music theatre in the round that got torn down for a mall that is now empty!

    If I could meet anyone it would be Toby Keith, of course.

  3. I think one of the best woman in Country Music was legendary Pasty Cline. The first time I heard her Crazy, I was hooked and Brenda Lee was another fav as is Tammy Wynette and Barbara Mandrel. And Reba is one of my all time favs. And for the males in this genre it was singers like Micky Gilley and Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Bros, Alabama, Brooks and Dunne and we must not forget about George Strait, Garth Brook and Vince Gill that hooked me in.

    In today’s Country music some of my favs are Keith Urban, Blake Shelton, Luke Byran, Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, Kelsey Ballerini.. And Groups like The Band Perry and Little Big Town. I could go on and on…

    But I love to listen to all kinds of music. Jazz, Rock and Roll, R&B, some Opera and I love those Crooners too..

    • Hi Kathleeen! Oh yes, all of the above, but I adore REBA! She’s so multi-talented. I watch repeats of her tv show and wish she’d do another one. I agree about Blake, Luke, Carrie and Kelly too.

  4. I listen to a wide variety of music, but country is what I usually listen to the most. I would have loved to have met Elvis. he seems like he would be a cool guy and fun to talk to. I guess you would love to have met Johnny Cash (but I bet there are actually quit a few on your list).

    • Hi Janine! Yes, I would’ve loved to have met Elvis too. I did get to see him LIVE in Lake Tahoe while on my honeymoon. I tease my hubby by saying it was the highlight of my honeymoon! He was such a fantastic performer. I had a crush on him all growing up, so to see him perform was amazing. 🙂

  5. I was raised on country musie,,my parents were huge fans,,i like Kenny Chesney and Trace Akins,been to the grand ole opry in Nashville and it was something ill never forget,saw Little Jimmy Dickens and Minnie Pearl

    • Hi Vickie! I was so excited to go to our National convention the year it was in Nashville and we were going to stay in that beautiful hotel, but that was the year of the floods and we never got to go, the convention was diverted to Orlando. And that was fun too. I never made it to Nashville. You say some great original performers, I remember Minnie Pearl!

  6. I’m more of a country rock lover and not so much the old “twangy” country although I do enjoy a lot of the them but Garth Brooks is the one that really got me into country. I was so upset when he retired and over the moon when he came back. My children use to hate when I listened to my country songs but my oldest actually got tickets and we went to his live concert!!! I guess some of it must have sunk in (just like I ended up liking some of her boy bands when she was younger lol).

    • HI Catslady! Oh, my kids don’t get country music either. They like all different types, but they never got into country, but they respect my craziness about it. I have gone to many concerts, seeing Reba, Brooks and Dunn, Tim and Faith, Kenny Chesney etc, but what I really want to do is see Carrie Underwood and she’s coming to my hometown soon.

  7. Love this! I still love all things country after growing up on a dairy farm. My favorite is Patsy Cline – there is no match for her voice. I love the “older” sounding country songs as opposed to today’s “closer to rock” songs. Don’t get me wrong, there are some fantastic songs today that I’m addicted to, but if I had to choose I’d got back to old country.

    • Hi Susan P! Patsy Cline really helped to cement the country audience. Her songs and her voice had so much heart and emotion. And yes, I like today’s music too, but agree it’s changed considerably…branching out into so many sub-genres.

  8. Hi Cindy! How cool that you got a chance to meet Lee Greenwood. I adore his patriotic songs! I liked Carrie then, too, but I still like her music today. I have her greatest hits and know all the words! :0

  9. Country Music is all I listen to. I enjoy Garth Brooks, Martina McBride,Alan Jackson,Kenny Chesney, and all earlier country singers.
    My favorite is Conway Twitty, who passed away much too soon. I would have loved to meet him.

    • Hi Estella!! It’s funny that so many loved Garth, but even he was before my time, meaning I didn’t listen to country when he was on top of the world. I sort of fell into it after 911 really, when we needed some heart and love and a sense of American pride. Toby Keith, and Alan Jackson and Tim McGraw caught me eye and I fell in love with the music. Also Martina McBride has got to have one of the best female voices, so powerful for such a petite woman! Love her!

  10. love country music – it plays 24/7 on the radio in our kitchen – saw Blake way back when he had a mullet!!

  11. What a wonderful post, Charlene! Yes, yes, I love country music. In fact, I loved Dolly Parton, Randy Travis, and Kenny Rogers long before I realized I loved it! Oh, Crysyal Gayle, too. I get to drive through the little town where Johnny Cash and Viv lived with their four daughters whenever I head up to the horse rescue. That said, and despite our many Tim Mcgraw concerts together, I think Brooks and Dunn are my all-time fave. Ronnie’s soulful voice can send me over the moon. Oh yes, we heard them together, too. I love this post.

    • Hi Tanya,
      You know I too love Brooks and Dunn. Ronnie has the BEST voice. You are so right. There are just so many artists in the field that I truly love! And yes, we saw them together and REBA came out. That was a cool surprise! Cowgirls Don’t Cry, wasn’t it?

  12. Great post, Charlene! Yep, being born and raised in Oklahoma, I’m really proud of our wealth of songwriters, singers, and musicians from this area. Remember Joe Diffie? He’s from here. Garth Brooks, Vince Gill (one of my very all time favorites), Reba McEntire, Toby Keith, Blake Shelton, Carrie Underwood…the list goes on. I know I’m leaving people out. I know Ronnie Dunn lived in the Tulsa area for several years, too. And from the “older days”–Hoyt Axton, Mel McDaniel, Roy Clark My best friend’s son took Carrie Underwood to the prom in Checotah one year. And Carrie is my favorite for other reasons–she does a LOT of work there in Checotah, which is a very small town, with their animal shelters, etc.

    Growing up, though, I never listened to country music–my mom didn’t like it–said it was too “twangy” (so I guess that was lucky for me, because she objected more to that than rock and roll!)

    So many great singers, and I have to say, as I got older, I loved country music equally as much as rock and roll. Loved your post today! I think Vince Gill is my fave male country star of today, but Marty Robbins is my favorite of all time. And as for the female star–I love Carrie Underwood’s voice. There are so many good performers out there, it’s hard to choose.

    • Hi Cheryl!
      Oh, how cool. I could just tell that Carrie Underwood is the real deal. She’s a wonderful role model, and just so talented. How cool that you know someone who once dated her. You named so many of my favorite artists. I can’t ever get enough and I’ve converted my hubby too, but he still loves 50’s music the best.

      • Cheryl, I agree with your mom about twangy country music. Listening to some of the old music here. I just don’t care for it. Much of the Cross Over Country Music is quite good – and Not twangy. In my post at the end, I have a link to some information about the “real” home of Country Music.
        I have noticed how generous many country music stars. They don’t forget where they came from and do much to help their home towns and the areas around it.

  13. I grew up with country music and I loved it! George Strait was always on our house along with Reba. I do miss the older country like in the 90s. It’s hard sometimes because I feel like today’s country is more popish. But as funny as it seems I would love to meet Blake Shelton. My hubby and I are huge fans of the voice and love watching him haha. But every time he gets someone on his team and gives them a hug i would love to be that person haha. He’s so big and tall and masculine. My husband just laughs at me every time I mention wanting to hug him haha.

    • Ha Cori! You are too cute. I agree about Blake Shelton, he is a manly man! Yes, country music has branched out even more than before, and it seems to be ever changing.

  14. I hope you don’t mind that I jump in here but I didn’t know Joe Diffie was from OK! Where? I used to love him. Hoyt Axton too? Loved him. Vince Gill is one of the tippy-top very best IMHO because I prefer songwriter-musician-singers myself, and Vince’s voice is just so absolutely pure. BTW, I used to have family in Checotah too. I’ve been known for listing singers from OK, too–are we twins, Cheryl?

  15. Love Country. Favorite of all time is George Strait with Garth Brooks running a very close second. I would love to meet either one…

  16. Please do not disregard the importance of the Bristol Sessions. While recordings began elsewhere in 1922, Bristol is recognized as the Birthplace of Country Music. Even The US Congress declared it to be true.

    I’d love to meet Kenny Chesney.

    My parents met at a country music venue.

  17. Love Country music! I grew up listening to it with my grandparents. I like a variety of artists. I would love to meet Garth Brooks or Dolly Parton mostly because they were 2 of my grams favorites, I love Carrie Underwood too as well as many of the new artists such as Chase Rice and Sam Hunt….

  18. Hi Charlene!

    My favorite country artist is Keith Whitley — I can lose myself in the emotion of his songs. : )

  19. I grew up listening to country but that was also when the Beatles came along. I liked them and other rock bands. I went through a country phase in my 20’s and lovef Dolly,Reba,George,Vince,Roy Clark and others. I was a music major in college and learned about lots of music. Still like my old rock but, lots of oldish country too. I remember watching HeeHaw and Porter Wagoner with Dolly. I miss some of those folks on HeeHaw like Tennessee Earnie Ford and Grandpa Jones.

  20. While Atlanta did afford a venue for performers, the “real” birthplace of country music is on the border of Virginia and Tennessee in Bristol. Connect here to find out more: http://www.americaslibrary.gov/es/tn/es_tn_bristol_1.html
    Johnny Cash grew up nearby and his and his wife’s family keep the tradition alive at the Carter Fold not far from the Bristol Birthplace of Country Music Museum. The East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, TN has a degree program for Bluegrass and Country Music. Kenny Chesney is a graduate. Of course Dolly Parton is from the area. The most recent contribution to the country music scene from the area is The Band Perry. Like Dolly they have been very good to their home area.
    I am a Crossover Country Music and Western Music fan.

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