Americana (music)

Americana (also known as American roots music)[1] is an amalgam of American music formed by the confluence of the shared and varied traditions that make up the musical ethos of the United States, specifically those sounds that are merged from folk, country, blues, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, gospel, and other external influences.[2] Americana, as defined by the Americana Music Association (AMA), is "contemporary music that incorporates elements of various mostly acoustic American roots music styles, including country, roots rock, folk, gospel and bluegrass resulting in a distinctive roots-oriented sound that lives in a world apart from the pure forms of the genres upon which it may draw. While acoustic instruments are often present and vital, Americana also often uses a full electric band."[3][4]


The phrase "Americana", in its current meaning, to describe the culture of the United States of America, was coined in 1841.[5]

Despite the genre's most common name, it is not practiced solely by artists from the United States, as numerous artists from Canada are also prominent in the genre.[6] Canadian bands in the genre will sometimes be referred to as Canadiana rather than Americana in Canadian media,[7] although this is not a widely recognized synonym elsewhere.

Americana as a radio format

Americana as a radio format had its origins in 1984 on KCSN in Northridge, California. Mark Humphrey, a contributor to country/folk Frets magazine, hosted a weekly radio show called "Honky Tonk Amnesia" which played "country, folk, honky tonk, cajun, dawg, blues, and old-time music," a combination that the country music station KCSN advertised as "Americana."[8] The format came into its own in the mid-1990s as a descriptive phrase used by radio promoters and music industry figures for traditionally-oriented songwriters and performers.[4]

Because of listener interest in the artists who do not fit as comfortably in the country or rock genres, a radio format called "Americana" was developed by the AMA and reported by R&R (Radio & Records, a radio trade publication). Born out of Triple A, non-commercial, country and other formats, the Americana format is the sum of the parts that have showcased Americana music since its inception.

The AMA grew out of the format as an effort to bring all Americana music supporters, performers, and professionals together to expand the visibility and viability of the music. The radio format, including the term "Americana," began in the late 1980s and a decade later through the efforts of Rob Bleetstein of San Francisco and Jon Grimson of Nashville. Bleetstein became the first Americana chart editor as Gavin magazine (a former radio trade publication) created the first Americana radio chart, which was published on January 20, 1995. Bleetstein worked closely with KFAN-FM "Texas Rebel Radio" in Texas and KPIG, KFAT's descendant, in California in developing the Americana format. Grimson became the first Americana radio promoter after having promoted the music previously at Warner Brothers Records Nashville, and promoting those releases that WB worked to radio formats outside the mainstream country stations.

Americana artists

Some of the notable artists in the genre are:

See also


  1. Widner, Ellis (July 16, 2017). "Bramletts gave root to Americana". Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Retrieved July 17, 2019.
  2. Pete Knapp (2008-10-06). "What is Americana Music?". Archived from the original on 2013-10-26. Retrieved 2014-03-23.
  3. "What Is Americana". Americana Music. Retrieved 2017-02-05.
  4. Bernstein, Jonathan (September 13, 2017). "Inside the Americana Genre's Identity Crisis". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2018-05-11.
  5. "Americana – Legends of America".
  6. Annie Zaleski, "25 Country and Americana artists you might not know are Canadian". The Boot, September 5, 2018.
  7. Lee Zimmerman, Americana Music: Voices, Visionaries, and Pioneers of an Honest Sound, Texas A&M University Press, 2019. ISBN 9781623497019. Chapter 48, "The Sadies Look South".
  8. "Honky Tonk Amnesia". Frets. Vol. 6. 1984. p. 50.
  9. Hudak, Joseph; Hudak, Joseph (July 26, 2016). "See Ryan Adams, Infamous Stringdusters Do 'Sweet Carolina' on 'Colbert'".
  10. Scherman, Tony (June 21, 2011). "Dave Alvin: Eleven Eleven". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2014-03-23.
  11. "Americana Music Association". Archived from the original on 18 October 2012. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  12. "The Band's 'Music From Big Pink' Turns 50: How Upstate New York Informed the Americana Classic". Billboard.
  13. Reitnouer, Amy (June 3, 2013). "Conversations with...Trish Klein of the Be Good Tanyas". The Bluegrass Situation. Retrieved 2018-05-11.
  14. Talbott, Chris (September 9, 2010). "Americana Awards". USA Today. Retrieved 3 October 2012.
  15. Huey, Steve. "Blue Rodeo – Artist Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  16. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2019-03-06. Retrieved 2019-03-04.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  17. Palmer, Sean (24 May 2012). "Just a little bit country". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  18. "Last Week AMA Chart". Americana Music Association. Retrieved 7 Feb 2011.
  19. Cross, Charles R. (July 2, 2011). "Americana cavalcade — Neko Case, Gillian Welch, Alison Krauss". Seattle Times. Retrieved November 23, 2011.
  20. Reed, James (May 20, 2012). "Crooked Still's Aoife O'Donovan comes into her own". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2018-05-11.
  21. Gilliland 1969, shows 31-32.
  22. "Justin Townes Earle: Americana singer-songwriter coming to Bates". Sun Journal. November 15, 2011. Retrieved November 25, 2011.
  23. Gilliland 1969, shows 52, 54.
  24. "No Depression". Archived from the original on 15 May 2013. Retrieved 6 December 2012.
  25. Willman, Chris (2016-09-23), Bob Weir Grateful to Get Back in Touch With His Cowboy Side at Americana Fest, Billboard, retrieved 2016-10-24, 'In all likelihood, without the Grateful Dead and without Bob Weir, there would not be an Americana community,' said Jed Hilly, executive director of the Americana Music Association...
  26. McGee, Alan (2009-07-02), McGee on music: Why the Grateful Dead were Americana pioneers, The Guardian, retrieved 2016-10-24
  27. Isaacs, Dave (2011-11-01), The Grateful Dead & The Band - original Americana groups?, No Depression, archived from the original on 2016-10-31, retrieved 2016-10-30
  28. Long, Mark (June 2, 2019). "Review: I'm With Her provides soundtrack for geography of United States". The Post and Courier. Retrieved June 6, 2019.
  29. Leahey, Andrew; Leahey, Andrew (August 15, 2014). "John Mellencamp Is 'Plain Spoken' on Latest Project".
  30. Barton, Laura (21 October 2014). "The playlist: Americana – Blake Mills, Tobias Jesso Jr, Joan Shelley, John Angaiak, Jeffrey Evans".
  31. Gilliland 1969, show 44.
  32. Gilliland, John (1969). "Blowin' in the Wind: Pop discovers folk music" (audio). Pop Chronicles. University of North Texas Libraries. Shows 1, 18.
  33. "Godmother of Americana Michelle Shocked Returns to UK with Her Mercury Rising Tour". Retrieved February 9, 2018.
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