About American Folk Music

American folk music dates back to the beginning of the country.

American folk music dates back to the oral traditions of early cultures. A popular genre for centuries, American folk music encompasses the likes of bluegrass, gospel, country and blues.


American folk music is a musical genre of the people. The genre has storytelling elements and often produces songs to do with everyday human emotion—love, anger and fear. War and civil rights are two further common themes of American folk music.


It is difficult to pin down the origin of American folk. The genre dates back to the beginning of the country, with its roots in English, Irish, African-American and Native-American cultures.

Early 20th Century

Folk had a revival in the 1950s, with many discovering the earlier work of Lead Belly and Woody Guthrie. Pete Seeger and his band The Weavers, along with The Kingston Trio, were just some of the popular folk artists during this time.

1960s Onward

The 1960s saw folk movement focus on protest and civil rights. Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell were pioneers. The 1970s brought along the likes of Cat Stevens, Don Mclean and James Taylor. Folk music continued to evolve throughout the century. Elements such as electric guitar were gradually introduced, but the principles remained the same.

Modern-Day American Folk

American folk music continues to thrive into the 21st century, with the likes of Fleet Foxes, Ani DiFranco and Iron & Wine having all reached considerable success.