Artists such as Johnny Cash, Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, and Tammy Wynette, among others, are synonymous with the history of country music. While the foundation of the genre may have been built on the more traditional sounds, the influence that other genres are having on contemporary country artists is evident today more than ever.
GRAMMY-nominated artist Jason Aldean brought Ludacris into the country world, teaming with the rapper on a remix of his 2011 GRAMMY-nominated hit "Dirt Road Anthem." That same year the pair performed the song live on "The GRAMMY Nominations Concert Live!! — Countdown To Music's Biggest Night." Though an arguably unlikely pairing from a traditional perspective, the two Georgia-based artists found the crossover more natural than most may have expected.
"Even though our music is totally different, our roots are the same," Aldean said in an interview with People magazine in 2011. "It wasn't that much of a stretch." The crossover was so successful that the two released the remixed version on iTunes later that year.
Since winning season four of "American Idol" in 2005, Carrie Underwood has shot to the top of the country and pop music charts. While her music often incorporates traditional country elements, Underwood also tows the line between country and pop, as evidenced on her dance-ready GRAMMY-nominated song "Blown Away." Underwood is always quick to assert her country roots, but her cross-genre influences have helped bring new fans to the country scene.
Current GRAMMY nominee Taylor Swift is arguably the biggest artist to find massive crossover success. Though she may call country music her home, Swift's music crossed boundaries long ago with songs such as "You Belong With Me" and she continues to evolve musically as evidenced by her latest studio album, Red.
These country artists and others will likely continue to spread their creative wings beyond the genre's traditional sounds, but not at the expense of sacrificing fans or the authenticity of country music. Adding influences from different genres may stretch Nashville's boundaries, but crossing those borders can enhance the listening experience for music lovers from the country world and beyond.