Monday, October 17, 2016

'Americana' music gains popularity and recognition

Bob Weir performing
"Americana" music is on the rise, with four of its artists—Bon Iver, Bob Weir (formerly of the Grateful Dead), Van Morrison and the Drive-By Truckers—in the most recent Billboard charts top 10 for the week ending Oct. 6, Dan Rys reports for the magazine. Americana has more spots in the top 10 than any other music except rock, a genre for which all four artists also qualify.

The four's popularity reflects a recent trend toward the establishment of Americana music as a distinct genre in a realm often dominated by rock, country, rap and R&B, Rys writes. In 2010 the Grammy Awards added a Best Americana album category—Levon Helm won it that year—and there are now categories for Best American Roots Song and Best American Roots Performance.

In August of 2015, Merriam-Webster officially added "Americana" to its dictionary, "defining it as 'a genre of American music having roots in early folk and country music.'" Rys writes. "And in May, Billboard announced the re-branding of the Folk Albums chart following in-depth dialogue with industry contacts, writing the chart would 'spotlight the middle ground bridging country and rock: organic, roots and acoustic-based groups and solo singer-songwriters.'"

Jed Hilly, executive director of the Americana Music Association, told Rys, "I think it's burgeoning in the commercial marketplace for a community that already existed in a non-commercial marketplace. I think that the fact that there's a word in the dictionary, there's a Grammy Award, [now] there's a place for these artists who don't necessarily fit in the mainstream commercial boxes, but do have artistic similarities can call home." (Read more)

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