Americana (music)

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Americana (also known as American roots music)[1] is an amalgam of American music formed by the confluence of the shared and varied traditions that make up the musical ethos of the United States, specifically those sounds that are merged from folk, country, blues, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, gospel, and other external influences.[2] Americana, as defined by the Americana Music Association (AMA), is "contemporary music that incorporates elements of various mostly acoustic American roots music styles, including country, roots rock, folk, gospel and bluegrass 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."[3][4] Some songs of the 19th century are, for example, "Oh! Susanna", "John Henry" and "Camptown Races",[5] some 20th Century songs are "Casey Jones" and "You Are My Sunshine".


The word "Americana", in its current meaning of describing the culture of the United States of America, was coined in 1841.[6][clarification needed]

Despite the genre's most common name, it is not practiced solely by artists from the United States, as numerous artists from Canada are also prominent in the genre.[7] Canadian bands in the genre will sometimes be referred to as Canadiana rather than Americana in Canadian media,[8] although this is not a widely recognized synonym elsewhere. A Norwegian scene is often referred to as Nordicana.[9]

Americana as a radio format[edit]

Americana as a radio format had its origins in 1984 on KCSN in Northridge, California. Mark Humphrey, a contributor to country/folk Frets magazine, hosted a weekly radio show called "Honky Tonk Amnesia" which played "country, folk, honky tonk, cajun, dawg, blues, and old-time music", a combination that the country music station KCSN advertised as "Americana".[10] The format came into its own in the mid-1990s as a descriptive phrase used by radio promoters and music industry figures for traditionally-oriented songwriters and performers.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Widner, Ellis (July 16, 2017). "Bramletts gave root to Americana". Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Retrieved July 17, 2019.
  2. ^ Pete Knapp (October 6, 2008). "What is Americana Music?". Archived from the original on October 26, 2013. Retrieved March 23, 2014.
  3. ^ "What Is Americana". Americana Music. 21 March 2016. Retrieved February 5, 2017.
  4. ^ a b Bernstein, Jonathan (September 13, 2017). "Inside the Americana Genre's Identity Crisis". Rolling Stone. Retrieved May 11, 2018.
  5. ^ Bongartz, Roy (May 30, 1971). "Stephen Foster, You'd Never Recognize 'De Camptown Races'". The New York Times. Retrieved July 2, 2021.
  6. ^ "Americana – Legends of America".
  7. ^ Annie Zaleski, "25 Country and Americana artists you might not know are Canadian". The Boot, September 5, 2018.
  8. ^ Lee Zimmerman, Americana Music: Voices, Visionaries, and Pioneers of an Honest Sound, Texas A&M University Press, 2019. ISBN 9781623497019. Chapter 48, "The Sadies Look South".
  9. ^ Martin, Taylor. "Nordicana: The Genre You Wish You Knew". Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  10. ^ "Honky Tonk Amnesia". Frets. Vol. 6. 1984. p. 50.

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