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Proud to Be an OkieCultural Politics, Country Music, and Migration to Southern California$
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Peter La Chapelle

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780520248885

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520248885.001.0001

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Ballads for the Crabgrass Frontier

Ballads for the Crabgrass Frontier

Suburbanization, Whiteness, and the Unmaking of Okie Musical Ethnicity

(p.113) 4 Ballads for the Crabgrass Frontier
Proud to Be an Okie

Peter La Chapelle

University of California Press

This chapter argues that pressure to fit in was an important impetus for the rightward turn in country music. Consumers, sponsors, and musical producers strived in the mid- to late 1950s to rehabilitate local country music's hayseed image and disassociate the genre from the Depression-era anti-Okie campaign and its lingering stigma by downplaying working-class and Okie identity, discouraging liberal-populist political dissent and stressing how elements of the music culture could convey social status. While this muzzled some performers, it also provided room for a small group of wealthy, well-connected performers—especially some of the 1930s cinematic singing cowboys—to come to the forefront and present themselves as antielitist spokesmen for a new, conservative cultural populism.

Keywords:   musical producers, country music, Okie identity, music culture, social status, cultural populism

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