Following the rise of the pop-oriented Urban Cowboy style in the late '70s and early '80s, singers like George Strait and Randy Travis set their sights on bringing country music back to its roots, beginning a movement known as the New Traditionalists. While their sound drew primarily on classic honky tonk, it also boasted all the advantages of updated production techniques and equipment, proving that pure country music could sound authentic yet modern. At its outset, Contemporary Country built upon this revelation, taking the foundation laid by new traditionalist country and infusing it with pop/rock sensibilities -- without sounding wimpy. During the late '80s and early '90s, contemporary country was still essentially country at its core, even though it was reaching a wider audience than ever, thanks in no small part to Garth Brooks and his latent rock influences. Although pop-crossover hit singles were still a rare occurrence at this point, contemporary country albums began to sell in unprecedented numbers in the wake of Brooks' success, and while contemporary country was by no means restricted to male singers, they -- with a few notable exceptions -- were the main early beneficiaries of the music's greater visibility.
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