Country  •  Country-Pop

Nashville Sound / Countrypolitan

Countrypolitan -- an outgrowth of the Nashville sound of the '50s -- is among the most commercially-oriented genres of country music. The Nashville sound emerged in the '50s as a way to bring country music to a broad pop audience. The movement was led by Chet Atkins, who was the head of RCA Records' country division. Atkins designed a smooth, commercial sound that relied on country song structures but abandoned all of the hillbilly and honky tonk instrumentation. He hired session musicians and coordinated pop-oriented, jazz-tinged productions. Similarly, Owen Bradley created productions -- most notably with Patsy Cline -- that featured sophisticated productions and smooth, textured instrumentation. Eventually, most records from Nashville featured this style of production and the Nashville sound began to incorporate strings and vocal choirs. In the late '60s, the Nashville sound metamorphosed into countrypolitan, which emphasized these kinds of pop production flourishes. Featuring layers of keyboards, guitars, strings, and vocals, countrypolitan records were designed to cross over to pop radio and they frequently did. The sound dominated the country charts in the '70s and stayed popular until the early '80s.