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Unit 4 Paper

1500 words - 6 pages

After over three decades of broadcasting from the Ryman Auditorium in downtown Nashville, the Grand Ole Opry, a live country radio program, moved about nine miles out of the city to Opryland U.S.A. A few months following the move, hostess Carolyn Holloran said “Country music is wherever the soul of a Country music fan is!”1 This quote was spoken in reference to the relocation of the Grand Ole Opry. Nevertheless, it can transcend this context to further describe the genre of Country music. From its roots in the Appalachians, to its commercialization and crossovers, Country music has come to represent the culture of the Southern United States. Through this music people have formed a ...view middle of the document...

Everybody has a concept of what southern culture consists of- rural, moralistic, conservative, and monolithic. These stereotypes have persisted through music, movies, and the media. It has become such a large part of their lives that Southerners now identify with symbols such as the confederate flag, the hillbilly, and the cowboy. Every person begins creating their identities from a young age. We start by creating very definitive categories, and as we grow up we learn there are exceptions to these rigid boundaries. Our identity is made up of “connections from perceptions and influences, opportunities and outside pressures.”5 The outside pressures consist of the stereotypes pursued by outlets such as Country music. One is example can be found in the lyrics of “Country Man” by Luke Bryan. In his song he describes a “real” country man as a muscular farmer who drives a Jeep, listens to Hank Williams, rides a tractor, hog wrestles, and hunts.6 We are all fully aware every guy in the southern United States does not fit into this country man cookie cutter. However the media and country music has had a large effect on the region’s image.
Country music’s influence over the southern United States extends to our perception of what states make up the region. As previously stated, the states most often sung about include Texas, Alabama and Tennessee. For this reason, we generally consider the South to be the area of the U.S. east of Texas, north of Florida, and south of Tennessee. In contrast, the region is geographically defined to “includes Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.”7 We rarely draw a parallel between Country music and states such as Florida, Delaware, or the District of Columbia. Country music allows us to create a collective identity for the southern United States based on the culture of the majority. This “cultural South” is a land of faith, a fertile crescent of music-makers, with an affinity for violence, an emphasis on family and narrow gender attitudes.8 Again, not all Americans that live in the southern region fall into these categories, but chances are at least one applies. Humans have a personal identity, a social identity, a collective identity, and all of these combine into multiple identities. They are the different roles we use to define ourselves, such as New Englander, student, daughter, and friend. Sometimes “material, social and physical constraints prevent us from successfully presenting ourselves in some identity positions.”9 These constraints keep us confined within the stereotypes and expectations of those roles. Country music helps persist these stereotypes and confine a region’s individuality.
Country music officially began in 1922 when Eck Robertson cut the first “old-time music” record. This and other works created the image of the Southern...

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