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What Is Americana? Its Artists Define the Genre

Americana’s breadth is as deep as it is wide. The genre embraces artists playing everything from gospel to pop, R&B to country, folk to soul; it’s not so much about a particular sound as it is about a particular feeling. But how do you define Americana? How do you explain a type of music that’s more about the presence and emotion it evokes than anything else?

Sept. 20-25, 2016, the Americana Music Festival spent a week honoring the artists and industry leaders who define the unique diversity of a musical genre that has spanned decades and includes some of the most-loved and -respected artists. Amid intimate showcases, networking seminars and parties, one of the week’s highlights was the 2016 Americana Music Awards hosted at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. Chris Stapleton, Jason IsbellMargo Price and more were honored for their contributions to Americana, and stars such as Bonnie Raitt, the Lumineers, and Alison Krauss took the stage at the Mother Church to perform — and, yes, they all fit within the genre.

On the red carpet prior to the awards ceremony, The Boot asked stars such as Jim Lauderdale and the Milk Carton Kids, among others, just how they would define their own genre. The results — as one might expect — were as varied as Americana music itself. Flip through the gallery above to find out what Emmylou HarrisAndrew Leahey and more had to say.

NEXT: More From the 2016 Americana Music Festival

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