American folk music is something that is very interesting to a large number of people. When you look at the evolution of the genre, it’s easy to see that it grew organically instead of being grown out of a desire for profit. Early American folk singers told stories that intrigued communities, and it has always been a type of working-class music. Early folk songs told tales of struggle and hope that helped to inspire the more well-known American folk artists that would come down the line.
The Early 20th Century
The early 20th century changed things for the music world since times were very tough. Workers around America were struggling to get certain standards into place, such as child labor laws and the eight-hour workday. The 1930s came around, and the Great Depression happened, which decimated many working-class communities. Many of the folk songs that came from this era spoke of the pain and struggles that people endured during those economically dark times.
Popular American folk artists of the era, such as Woody Guthrie, wrote hundreds of songs about the working man’s plight. These songs eventually gave way to new forms of music. In the 1940s, the bluegrass genre was created and became distinct from old American folk music. However, American folk music would see a resurgence in popularity just a few short decades later.
The 1960s and Beyond
In the 1960s, the world wound up seeing many popular folk artists pop up. A lot of this came from protests to the war and other types of civil rights protests. Legendary folk artists such as Bob Dylan came from this time period, and they changed the perception of American folk music. Throughout the 1960s and into the 1970s, American folk music was about giving a voice to the people who had concerns about the direction the country was going in.
Today, folk music isn’t the most popular genre, but its influence can be seen everywhere. People still create great pieces of American folk music, and it is played in bars, cafes, and community centers around the country. The folk music of today is giving a voice to other oppressed people such as minorities, people in the LGBTQ community, and more. Folk music will continue to be an important part of American history and America as a whole.