International Country Music Day, September 17, is a day of festivals, concerts, dances, and all kinds of other events that celebrate country music, to honor this distinctly American genre.
Today is about the music. It’s popular to joke about country songs being all about losing your dog, your truck, your job, and your girlfriend, but in reality, the breadth and depth of the genre offer something for everyone, from Williams’ “Hey Good Lookin’,” to “New Country” songs like Toby Keith’s “Red Solo Cup.” On International Country Music Day, dip into the wellspring and take a sip.
History of INTERNATIONAL COUNTRY MUSIC DAY
Though International Country Music Day has only been a worldwide phenomenon since 2003, country music itself evolved during the 1920s in the U.S. The music form is the result of a mix of Delta blues, Appalachian folk, Cajun music, Creole Zydeco, and others. Today, people often think of the genre as “Old Country,” which has been wildly popular since the 1950s.
Artists during this golden period such as Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and of course Hank Williams, gave fans unforgettable stories and glimpses into the struggles of a hardscrabble life. Speaking of Hank Williams, the day chosen for this holiday, September 17, is Williams’ birthday. It’s easy to guess the country music icon left a wealth of quality country songs as his legacy, such as “Cold Cold Heart” and “Lost Highway.”
As a matter of fact, all 35 of the singles Williams recorded made the top ten on the Billboard Country & Western Bestsellers chart, with 11 of them reaching the number one spot. Mention the phrase country music, and don’t be surprised if the name Hank Williams is in the first sentence of the response. We believe he’d be honored at the association of his birth date with International Country Music Day.
New country, on the other hand, is a subgenre represented by a similarly talented pool of singers and songwriters, including Dierks Bentley, Miranda Lambert, Keith Urban, and many more, with a younger generation of country musicians taking up the mantle more and more as time goes by. Country music shows no signs of slowing down or going away, so take International Country Music Day as a chance to discover why so many people around the world love country music.
INTERNATIONAL COUNTRY MUSIC DAY timeline
Hank Williams is born, eventually to personify country music for millions of fans.
Johnny Cash records “Ring of Fire,” capturing the attention of a huge number of radio listeners who may not have ventured into the world of country music.
The first official International Country Music Day is kicked off, coordinating hundreds of concerts and festivals worldwide to occur on the same day, September 17.
Sam Hunt’s “Body Like a Back Road” spends 34 weeks at number one on the country charts.
INTERNATIONAL COUNTRY MUSIC DAY FAQs
Is country music popular outside the US?
While the bulk of country listening takes place in the U.S., there has been a 21 percent increase in the share of country music streaming outside America since 2015.
What does country music represent?
Country music is defined as “a style and genre of largely string-accompanied American popular music having roots in the folk music of the Southeast and cowboy music of the West, usually vocalized, generally simple in form and harmony, and typified by romantic or melancholy ballads accompanied by acoustic or electric.
Outside the States, where is country music the most popular?
Perhaps partly because of the shared language, the U.K, Australia, and Canada boast the largest numbers of faithful country music fans outside the U.S.
INTERNATIONAL COUNTRY MUSIC DAY Activities
Attend a concert or festival
After 2020’s pandemic, you’ll once again be able to join the crowd at a country music performance, have an adult beverage, and give line dancing a shot. If you want to get to the heart of country music and really experience it first-hand, a trip to Nashville, Tennessee — considered the epicenter of country music — wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Pick up a musical instrument
There are many to choose from other than the usual guitar. Decide to learn a new skill and try out the fiddle, the dobro, the steel guitar, the banjo, the harmonica — the list goes on. There’s no better way to show you love country music than to play some yourself.
Listen at home
If you’re like us, the accessibility of all types of music at a click is one of our favorite reasons to love the internet. On International Country Music Day, go on a surfing journey and listen to the old country standards and the new country hits. If you’re normally a listener of “everything except country,” make an exception. We’ll bet you do find something you like.
5 Amazing Facts About Johnny Cash
Put it on “shuffle”
Asked what albums he’d have with him if stranded on a desert island, Cash listed a roster that includes Emmylou Harris, Beethoven, and Bob Dylan.
Despite having been arrested a total of seven times — some of them on drug charges — Cash only ever spent one night behind bars.
An apt alias
Before reaching his fame, Cash only ever went by the first name “J.R.” with the initials remaining ambiguous in terms of what they stood for, and only adopted the name “John” when an Air Force recruiter would not accept initials for a first name.
“You may now kiss …”
In the 1970s, Cash spent two years studying divinity and became an ordained minister in time to preside over his daughter’s marriage.
Not just a songwriter
In 1986, Cash published a novel called “Man In White,” a fictional account of a period in the life of the apostle Paul.
Why We Love INTERNATIONAL COUNTRY MUSIC DAY
Lots of country songs are fun and funny
Stories are indeed at the heart of country songs, but not all of them are about heartbreak. Take a look at the song “Ticks” by Brad Paisley. “I’d like to see you out in the moonlight / I’d like to kiss you way back in the sticks / I’d like to walk you through a field of wildflowers / And I’d like to check you for ticks.” And that’s just one example. Listened to with an open mind, country music can often make you smile.
There’s nothing like a live concert
You can be the owner of an artist’s entire discography and have a dozen songs memorized to sing along with, but to truly experience a country musician’s personality and heart, at least one live concert is de rigeur. We love to feel that electric charge in the air!
It’s truly American
The U.S. may have the right to claim that rock and roll originated within its borders, but country & western, also quintessentially American, predates rock by some twenty years. To celebrate country music is to celebrate American history.
INTERNATIONAL COUNTRY MUSIC DAY dates