What is Americana?
By Madeline Heiskell
The term "Americana" is used in passing to describe music. I had never given much thought as to what musical styles constitute as "American." However, with Americana Fest happening this week, I wanted to learn more about what Americana music is and its history, especially because Olivia Management operates mostly in the Americana genre. Here is what I learned:
The American Music Association defines Americana as contemporary music that incorporates elements of various American roots music styles, including country, roots-rock, folk, bluegrass, R&B and blues, 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.
Americana was loosely defined for many years. Many people have been confused as to what exactly constitutes Americana. As the term suggests, Americana music is based on American roots music such as classic-style country, but it also includes influences that converged to create what we know as Rock-and-roll.
In order to tighten the definition and create legitimacy for the Americana genre, the Americana Music Association formed. In the late 1990's, 30 volunteers from radio, labels, and media got together the South by Southwest music industry conference in Austin, Texas, to discuss collective action that could help the Americana community, including the possibility of a trade association. A facilitated retreat in October 1999 galvanized the idea, and the Americana Music Association was born. Ever since, The Americana genre has continued to grow and evolve. In 2010, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS - the folks responsible for the Grammy Awards) added a category for Best Americana Album. Americana music is now one of the biggest buzz genres. Below is a list with links that show the variety of what is considered Americana music today. Take a look, you might be surprised to find some of your favorite artists/ bands on there!
Mumford & Sons: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ujv3c0TqLRk
Willie Nelson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7f189Z0v0Y
The Secret Sisters: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLS8LDzoi5A
Matthew Perryman Jones: https://youtu.be/dPDWY8augSA
The Lumineers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aN5s9N_pTUs