Southern States..... Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia
Southern Genres..... Bluegrass, Blues, Carolina Beach, Country, Folk, Funk, Gospel, Jazz, Native American, Ragtime, Rhythm & Blues, Rockabilly, Soul, Southern Hip-Hop, Southern Rock, Spirituals, Zydeco
The American South is built on many cultures, including Native American, South American, English, French, African and Caribbean. Southern Music reflects the region’s politics, joy, love, struggle, religion, poverty, art, resistance, blistering heat, cooling rain, and cornbread, greens and iced tea. Its instruments range from a one-stringed guitar nailed to the wall of a cabin to a full orchestra in a concert hall.
As defined by the United States Census Bureau, the Southern region of the United States includes sixteen states and the Distric of Columbia. As of 2010, an estimated 114,555,744 people, or thirty-seven percent of all U.S. residents, lived in the South, the nation's most populous region. The Census Bureau defined three smaller divisions:
The South Atlantic States: Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and Distric of Columbia
The East South Central States: Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee
The West South Central States: Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas.
The popular definition of the "South" is more informal and generally associated with the 11 states that seceded before or during the Civil War to form the Confederate States of America. In order of their secession, these were: South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina. These states share commonalities of history and culture that carry on to the present day. Oklahoma was not a state during the Civil War, but all its major Native American tribes signed formal treaties of alliance with the Confederacy.
The first well-dated evidence of human occupation in the south United States occurs around 9500 BC with the appearance of the earliest documented Americans, who are now referred to as Paleo-Indians. Paleoindians were hunter-gathers that roamed in bands and frequently hunted megafauna. Several cultural stages, such as Archaic (ca. 8000–1000 BC) and the Woodland (ca. 1000 BC – AD 1000), preceded what the Europeans found at the end of the 15th century—the Mississippian culture.
The Mississippian culture was a complex, mound-building Native American culture that flourished in what is now the southeastern United States from approximately 800 AD to 1500 AD. Natives had elaborate and lengthy trading routes connecting their main residential and ceremonial centers extending through the river valleys and from the East Coast to the Great Lakes. Some noted explorers who encountered and described the Mississippian culture, by then in decline, included Pánfilo de Narváez, Hernando de Soto, and Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville.
Native American descendants of the mound-builders include Alabama, Apalachee, Caddo, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, Guale, Hitchiti, Houma, and Seminole peoples, all of whom still reside in the South.
Other peoples whose ancestral links to the Mississippian culture are less clear but were clearly in the region before the European incursion include the Catawba and the Powhatan.
European immigration resulted in a corresponding die off of Native Americans who had not been exposed to various diseases.
The predominant culture of the South was rooted in the settlement of the region by British colonists. In the 17th century, most voluntary immigrants were of English origins who settled chiefly along the coastal regions of the Eastern seaboard but had pushed as far inland as the Appalachian Mountains by the 18th century. The majority of early English settlers were indentured servants, who gained freedom after enough work to pay off their passage. The wealthier men who paid their way received land grants known as headrights, to encourage settlement.
The Spanish and French established colonies in Florida, Texas and Louisiana. The Spanish colonized Florida in the 16th century, with their communities reaching a peak in the late 17th century.
In the British colonies, immigration began in 1607 and continued until the outbreak of the Revolution in 1775. Settlers cleared land, built houses and outbuildings, and on their own farms. The rich owned large plantations that dominated export agriculture and used black slaves. Many were involved in the labor-intensive cultivation of tobacco, the first cash crop of Virginia. Tobacco exhausted the soil quickly, requiring that farmers regularly clear new fields. They used old fields as pasture, and for crops such as corn and wheat, or allowed them to grow into woodlots.
In the mid-to-late-18th century, large groups of Ulster Scots (later called the Scotch-Irish) and people from the Anglo-Scottish border region immigrated and settled in the back country of Appalachia and the Piedmont. They were the largest group of non-English immigrants from the British Isles before the American Revolution. In the 1980 Census, 34% of Southerners reported that they were of English ancestry; English was the largest reported European ancestry in every Southern state by a large margin.
The early colonists engaged in warfare, trade, and cultural exchanges. Those living in the backcountry were more likely to encounter Creek Indians, Cherokee, and Choctaws and other regional native groups.
Slavery in the United States had a major role in shaping the South, its agricultural practices, the American Civil War, and segregation in the United States. The presence and practices of Native Americans and the landscape also played a role in Southern culture. The climate is conducive to growing tobacco, cotton, and other crops, and the red clay in many areas was used for the distinctive red brick architecture of many commercial buildings.
The oldest university in the South, the College of William & Mary, was founded in 1693 in Virginia; it pioneered in the teaching of political economy and educated future U.S. Presidents Jefferson, Monroe and Tyler, all from Virginia. Indeed, the entire region dominated politics in the First Party System era: for example, four of the first five presidents—Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe—were from Virginia. The two oldest public universities are also in the South: the University of North Carolina (1789) and the University of Georgia
In the time of their conception, the predominant cultural influence on the Southern states was that of the English colonists who established the original English colonies in the region. In the 17th century, most were of Southern English origins, mostly from regions such as Kent, East Anglia and the West Country who settled mostly on the coastal regions of the South but pushed as far inland as the Appalachian mountains by the 18th century. In the 18th century, large groups of Scots lowlanders, Northern English and Ulster-Scots (later called the Scots-Irish) settled in Appalachia and the Piedmont. Following them were larger numbers of English indentured servants from across the English Midlands and Southern England, they would be the largest group to settle in the Southern Colonies during the colonial period. They were often called "crackers", a term associated with the cowboys of Georgia and Florida. Before the American Revolution, the term was applied by the English, as a derogatory epithet for the non-elite settlers of the southern backcountry. This usage can be found in a passage from a letter to the Earl of Dartmouth, "I should explain ... what is meant by Crackers; a name they have got from being great boasters; they are a lawless set of rascals on the frontiers of Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia, who often change their places of abode." Most Caucasian Southerners today are of partial or majority English and Scots-Irish ancestry. In previous censuses, over a third of Southern responders identified as being of English or partly English ancestry with 19,618,370 self-identifying as "English" on the 1980 census, followed by 12,709,872 identifying as Irish, 11,054,127 as Afro-American, and 10,742,903 as German. It should also be noted that those who did identify themselves of German ancestry were almost exclusively found in the northern border areas of the region which are adjacent to the American Mid-West. Those from the Tidewater area identified themselves almost exclusively as of English origins, while those from the Piedmont areas were a mixture of English, Scotch-Irish, Scottish and Irish origins. South Georgia has a large Irish presence, the ancestors of whom were largely at one time Roman Catholic; however, many were converted to various Protestant sects due to the lack of a missionary presence of the Catholic Church in the 18th and 19th centuries. The predominance of Irish surnames in South Georgia has been noted by American historians for some time.
The other primary population group in the South is made up of the African American descendants of the slaves brought into the South. African Americans comprise the United States' largest racial minority, accounting for 13.6 percent of the total population according to the 2010 census. Despite Jim Crow era outflow to the North, the majority of the black population has remained concentrated in the southern states, and blacks have been returning to the South in large numbers since the end of formal segregation.
People of many nationalities established communities in the American South. Some examples are the German American population of the Edwards Plateau of Texas, whose ancestors arrived in the region in the 1840s. German cultural influence continues to be felt in cities like New Braunfels, Texas near Austin and San Antonio Much of the population of East Texas, Louisiana and coastal Mississippi and Alabama traces its primary ancestry to French colonists of the 18th century. Also important is the French community of New Orleans dating back to the 1880s.
Several Southern states (Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia) were British colonies that sent delegates to sign the Declaration of Independence and then fought against the government along with the Northern colonies during the Revolutionary War. The basis for much Southern culture derives from the pride in these states being among the 13 original colonies, and from the fact that much of the population of the South has strong ancestral links to Colonists who emigrated west. Southern manners and customs reflect the relationship with England and Africa that was held by the early population, with some influences being provided by the Native American populations of the area.
Overall, the South has had lower percentages of high school graduates, lower housing values, lower household incomes, and lower cost of living than the rest of the United States. These factors, combined with the fact that Southerners have continued to maintain strong loyalty to family ties, has led some sociologists to label white Southerners an ethnic or quasi-ethnic group, though this interpretation has been subject to criticism on the grounds that proponents of the view do not satisfactorily indicate how Southerners meet the criteria of ethnicity.
The predominant culture of the South has its origins with the settlement of the region by large groups of Northern English, Scots lowlanders and Ulster-Scots (later called the Scotch-Irish) who settled in Appalachia and the Piedmont in the 18th century, and from parts of southern England such as East Anglia, Kent and the West Country in the 17th century, and the many African slaves who were part of the Southern economy. African-American descendants of the slaves brought into the South compose the United States' second-largest racial minority, accounting for 12.1 percent of the total population according to the 2000 census.
In previous censuses, the largest ancestry group identified by Southerners was English or mostly English, with 19,618,370 self-reporting "English" as an ancestry on the 1980 census, followed by 12,709,872 listing "Irish" and 11,054,127 "Afro-American". Almost a third of all Americans who claim English ancestry can be found in the American South, and over a quarter of all Southerners claim English descent as well. The South also continues to have the highest percentage of African Americans in the country, due to the history of slavery.
Country music originated in the Southern United States, and the country music industry is based in Nashville, Tennessee. The musical heritage of the South was developed by both whites and blacks, both influencing each other directly and indirectly.
The South's musical history actually starts before the Civil War, with the songs of the Native Americans, African slaves and the traditional folk music brought from Britain and Ireland. Blues was developed in the rural South by African Americans at the beginning of the 20th century. In addition, old-time music, gospel music, spirituals, country music, rhythm and blues, soul music, funk, rock and roll, beach music, bluegrass, jazz (including ragtime, popularized by Southerner Scott Joplin), zydeco, and Appalachian folk music were either born in the South or developed in the region.
In general, country music is based on the folk music of white Southerners, and blues and rhythm and blues is based on African American southern forms. However, whites and blacks alike have contributed to each of these genres, and there is a considerable overlap between the traditional music of blacks and whites in the South, particularly in gospel music forms. A stylish variant of country music (predominantly produced in Nashville) has been a consistent, widespread fixture of American pop since the 1950s, while insurgent forms (i.e. bluegrass) have traditionally appealed to more discerning sub-cultural and rural audiences. Blues dominated the African American music charts from the advent of modern recording until the mid-1950s, when it was supplanted by the less guttural and forlorn sounds of rock and R&B. Nevertheless, unadulterated blues (along with early southern rock) is still the subject of reverential adoration throughout much of Europe and cult popularity in isolated pockets of the United States.
Zydeco, Cajun and swamp pop, despite having never enjoyed greater regional or mainstream popularity, still thrive throughout French Louisiana and its peripheries, such as Southeastern Texas. These unique Louisianan styles of folk music are celebrated as part of the traditional heritage of the people of Louisiana. Conversely, bluegrass music has acquired a sophisticated cachet and distinct identity from mainstream country music through the fusion recordings of artists like Bela Fleck, David Grisman, and the New Grass Revival; traditional bluegrass and Appalachian mountain music experienced a strong resurgence after the release of 2001's O Brother, Where Art Thou?.
Southern rock largely began in the South in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Early rock n' roll musicians from the South include Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Bo Diddley, Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, James Brown, Otis Redding, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis, among many others. Hank Williams, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash, while generally regarded as "country" singers, also had a significant role in the development of rock music, giving rise to the original "crossover" genre of rockabilly. In the 1960s, Stax Records emerged as a leading competitor of Motown Records, laying thegroundwork for later stylistic innovations in the process.
The South has continued to produce rock music in later decades. In the 1970s, a wave of Southern rock and blues rock groups, led by The Allman Brothers Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top, and 38 Special, became popular. Macon, Georgia-based Capricorn Records helped to spearhead the Southern rock movement, and was the original home to many of the genre's most famous groups. At the other end of the spectrum, along with the aforementioned Brown and Stax, New Orleans' Allen Toussaint and The Meters helped to define the funk subgenre of rhythm and blues in the 1970s.
Many who got their start in the regional show business in the South eventually banked on mainstream national and international success as well: Elvis Presley and Dolly Parton are two such examples of artists that have transcended genres.
Many of the roots of alternative rock are often considered to come from the South as well, with bands such as R.E.M., Pylon, the B-52s, and Indigo Girls forever associated with the musically fertile college town of Athens, Georgia. Cities such as Austin, Knoxville, Chapel Hill, Nashville and Atlanta also have thriving indie rock and live music scenes. Austin is home to the long-running South by Southwest music and arts festival, while several influential independent music labels (Sugar Hill, Merge, Yep Rock and the now-defunct Mammoth Records) were founded in the Chapel Hill area. Several influential death metal bands have recorded albums at Morrisound Recording in Temple Terrace, Florida and the studio is considered an important touchstone in the genre's development.
There is a large underground heavy metal scene in the Southern United States. Death metal can trace some of its origins to Tampa, Florida. Bands such as Deicide, Morbid Angel, Six Feet Under, Cannibal Corpse, Volt negative among others, have come out of this scene. The Southern United States are also the place where sludge metal was born and it's where its pioneering acts, Eyehategod and Crowbar, come from; as well as other notable bands of the style such as Down and Corrosion of Conformity. Other well known metal bands from the South include Pantera, Hellyeah, Lamb of God, and Mastodon. This has helped coin the term southern metal which is well received by the vast majority in metal circles around the world. Other heavy metal and hardcore punk sub-genres, including metalcore and post-hardcore, have also become increasingly popular in this region.
Recently, the spread of southern hip-hop music has led to the rise of the musical subgenre of the Dirty South. Atlanta, Houston, Memphis, Miami, and New Orleans have long been major centers of hip-hop culture.