American Music

The United States of America is located in North America, bordering both the North Atlantic Ocean and the North Pacific Ocean, between Canada and Mexico.


The United States became a major exporter of entertainment in the 20th century through movies, film and music. Although pop, rock, hip hop, country and jazz are some of its biggest exports, some genres in the roots music category such as blues and bluegrass are a major force in American music.

American Roots Music

The United States is a nation formed primarily by descendants of immigrants from Europe, Asia and Latin America, as well as slaves from Africa. As a consequence, American roots music has its foundation in the musical cultures of these diverse groups of people.

The original inhabitants of what is now the United States of America are known as American Indians or Native Americans. The most common musical instruments used by American Indians are the voice, drums, percussion and flutes. Most of the recordings available are powwow performances, popular in “Indian Country’. There is also rock, jazz, world music and hip hop performed by Native Americas.

The music of Hawaii, which is located in the Pacific Ocean, has strong Polynesian and European influences. Portuguese and Spanish sailors and cowboys brought instruments that are now very popular, such as the guitar and the cavaquinho. The cavaquinho became the ukulele. One of the most popular styles is Hawaiian slack key guitar.

The descendants of African slaves in the United States are known as Black Americans or African Americans. Most were originally based in the Southern states: Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. Internal migrations led many southern blacks to northern and western states, seeking better job opportunities in urban areas. African American culture has spawned some of the richest musical genres found in the United States: Gospel, blues, jazz, R&B, soul, funk, and Zydeco. Combined with other elements, it also gave way to rock and roll.

The numerous waves of immigrants from Europe and other parts of the world brought the sounds of the entire globe to the USA. Early Scottish and Irish immigrant settled in Appalachia and gave way to bluegrass music. Acadians who relocated to Louisiana developed Cajun music. Central and Eastern European immigrants who set roots in the industrial North brought polkas and other popular dances with them. Recent immigrants from Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America have arrived with new beats and musical instruments, including Indian classical, bhangra, klezmer, highlife, world beat, etc.

Many states in what is now the Southwest (New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and Colorado), as well as Texas and California, were once part of Spain and later Mexico. Many of the descendants of the first European settlers and natives created a new multiracial, mestizo ethnic group when the settlers from Spain and Native Americans intermarried. Hispanics from the southwest and Texas developed styles known as tejano music, norteño and corridos. Puerto Ricans, along with Cubans and Dominicans, developed New York salsa by bringing together the sounds of Cuban son, Dominican merengue and Puerto Rican bomba and plena to the mainland.

American Musicians:

Directory of American musicians involved with American roots music or world music.

Ancient Future
Ara Dinkjian
Asleep at the Wheel
The Avett Brothers
Balfa Toujours
Balkan Beat Box
Barbara Lamb
Barney Isaacs
Bela Fleck
Blue Highway
Bobby Sanabria
Bruce Molsky
Buddy Guy
Bryan Akipa
Cedric Watson
Cephas & Wiggins
R. Carlos Nakai
David Grisman
Dr. John
Henry Gray
Jay Begaye
Jon Hassell
Kevin Yazzie
The Klezmatics
La cumbiamba eNeYé
La Excelencia
Matthew Montfort
Matt Flinner
Los Pinguos
Muddy Waters
Missy Raines
Pine Leaf Boys
Rick Epping
Ry Cooder
Salar Nader
Yo-Yo Ma


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