Since its publication in 1995, Barry McCloud’s Definitive Country: The Ultimate Encyclopedia Of Country Music And Its Performers (Perigee Books) has been the most comprehensive and useful guide of its kind on the market. While The Encyclopedia of Country Music won’t dispossess the older guide, it will certainly give it a run for its money. Like the McCloud book, the newer resource relies for its depth on entries and essays by a number of distinguished country music scholars and journalists. Paul Kingsbury, former editor of the Journal of Country Music and author of The Grand Ole Opry History of Country Music, directed the project.
Beyond providing basic biographical details for around 1,000 country artists, past and present, The Encyclopedia of Country Music also covers influential songwriters, record producers, record company chiefs, types of instruments and country music venues. Salted throughout the text are multi-page essays on country music roots, costuming, literature, songwriting, touring and other large topics. There are nearly 500 color and black-and-white photos.
Topping off this mammoth compilation are appendices that list the bestselling country albums, major award-winners, Grand Ole Opry and Country Music Hall of Fame members and full-time country radio stations.
While a few significant performers are unaccountably left out—including Patti Page and Shelly West—these omissions are microscopic in context. This book is a standard-setter.
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