Before these, pioneer settlers, in the Great Smoky Mountains region, had developed a rich musical heritage.
The first generation emerged in the early 1920s, with Atlanta's music scene playing a major role in launching country's earliest recording artists.
Attempts to combine punk and country were pioneered by Jason and the Scorchers, and in the 1980s Southern Californian cowpunk scene with bands like the Long Ryders and Mojo Nixon.
During the fifth generation (1990s), country music became a worldwide phenomenon.
In the aftermath of the British Invasion, many desired a return to the "old values" of rock n' roll.
At the same time there was a lack of enthusiasm in the country sector for Nashville-produced music.
New York City record label Okeh Records began issuing hillbilly music records by Fiddlin' John Carson as early as 1923, followed by Columbia Records (series 15000D "Old Familiar Tunes") (Samantha Bumgarner) in 1924, and RCA Victor Records in 1927 with the first famous pioneers of the genre Jimmie Rodgers) and the first family of country music The Carter Family.
During the second generation (1930s–1940s), radio became a popular source of entertainment, and "barn dance" shows featuring country music were started all over the South, as far north as Chicago, and as far west as California.
Country music often consists of ballads and dance tunes with generally simple forms, folk lyric and harmonies accompanied by mostly string instruments such as banjos, electric and acoustic guitars, steel guitars (such as pedal steels and dobros), and fiddles as well as harmonicas.The third generation (1950s–1960s) started at the end of World War II with "mountaineer" string band music known as bluegrass, which emerged when Bill Monroe, along with Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs were introduced by Roy Acuff at the Grand Ole Opry.Gospel music remained a popular component of country music.According to Lindsey Starnes, the term country music gained popularity in the 1940s in preference to the earlier term hillbilly music; it came to encompass Western music, which evolved parallel to hillbilly music from similar roots, in the mid-20th century.
In 2009, in the United States country music was the most listened to rush hour radio genre during the evening commute, and second most popular in the morning commute.
Bob Wills was another country musician from the Lower Great Plains who had become very popular as the leader of a "hot string band," and who also appeared in Hollywood westerns.