Tunde Folawiyo has listened to Country music for many years. This genre is thought to have originated during the 1920s, in the southern states of the USA, and consists mainly of upbeat folksy dance songs and mournful ballads. Over the decades, it has become one of the world’s most well-known genres.
Whilst it is now considered to be distinctly American, Country formed as the result of the intermingling of several European and African musical styles. Families who immigrated from places like Spain, Italy, Germany, Ireland and West Africa to the USA during the twenties, brought with them their own traditional instruments, including the banjo, the guitar, the mandolin, the dulcimer and the fiddle. It was the fusion of these musical cultures which would eventually create the Country music genre which so many people, including Tunde Folawiyo, know and love today.
During the twenties, the commercialisation of Country began, with musicians producing the first ever Country records, and radio networks setting up programs dedicated solely to this genre. Gradually, people all across America began to discover the delights of this style, with many singers from the southern states gaining acclaim as word of their songs spread. The following decade saw the genre evolve, as Country writers began to compose more complex pieces which depicted the horrors that were the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. Imagery and concepts typical of the Wild West – cowboys and freedom – were also frequently included.
The father of this genre was undoubtedly Jimmie Rodgers. Like the Carter Family – an iconic Country music group – Rodgers’ talent as a musician was discovered by the RCA’s Ralph Peer, whilst he was performing for a small audience in North Carolina. Famed for his rhythmic style of yodelling, Rodgers learned this skill, and as well as how to strum and pick guitars, from the hobos and workers he met as a boy.
During his youth, he was exposed to a great deal of gospel music, which the African Americans often sang as they worked on the railroads; the spirituals which he learned during this period of time stayed with him for the rest of his career, and had a huge influence on his style of music. He combined this spiritual style with the folksy sound he discovered from many of the immigrant families he met whilst travelling around the country for his performances, eventually resulting in the formation of a style which would become known as ‘Country’.