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Big Ideas

  • The Southeast and Midwest fostered more traditional country music, radio barn dances, and connections to the rural past in the 1930s.

  • The geography, sense of place, employment patterns, and various ethnic communities in the Southwest forged a hybrid of string band and jazz music that became western swing.

  • Hollywood westerns gained greater traction during the Great Depression, and their starring figure, the singing cowboy, offered an iconic image for country music that supplanted the hillbilly image.

  • By the end of the 1930s, country music was populated with a generation of professional entertainers who defined the genre's core themes, especially its complicated relationship with other genres.


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