Today, there are distinct differences between traditional country music and modern country music. The artists of traditional and modern country music are influenced by different life events, the instruments they use are different, and their performance styles are different. Over time, the genre has become very broad and has changed significantly.
Johnny Cash a traditional country singer and Garth Brooks, a modern country singer are two of the many famous artists credited for having greatly influenced this change. Exactly what are the differences between traditional and modern country music? Comparing the lives and careers of Cash and Brooks shows that traditional and modern country music differs not only in sounds, but also in influences, instruments, and performances.
Country music evolves out of Anglo-Saxon ballads brought to the United States originally by the first Americans in the 17th century. The music often focuses on sacred religious hymns or grim, century-old tales of murder or other disasters that were often rewritten to comment on more recent events.
Although the traditional qualities of country music still remain an influence to artists, the genre has evolved to become what we know today as modern country music where artists strive to push the boundaries and to bring a unique sound to their audiences. Born in February 1932 in Kingsland Arkansas, Cash was the fourth of seven children. Throughout his childhood his family lived in poverty, struggling just to make ends meet.
Despite the difficulty that Cash's family faced, these obstacles not only made him a stronger man, but they also affected his music in a profound way. Better known as "The Man in Black" a nod to his wardrobe as well as to the darker themes of his music, Cash's songs were inspired by events that took place throughout his life.
Growing up, Cash was influenced by the music of Jimmy Rogers whose style was to sing songs that ordinary people could relate to. Cash was also inspired by rock & roll artists such as Bob Dillon. Driven by influences of local country, bluegrass, and gospel music, Cash began to play the guitar and write songs at age twelve.
After serving four years in the air force, Cash joined his first band, the "Tennessee Two." Their sound was a combination of country-western and the blues or better known as rockabilly. When Cash signed his first record contract with Sun Records, he joined a group with Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis called "The Million Dollar Quartet."