Editors' Notes Whether it’s sung softly over a lonely, droning pedal steel guitar or belted out as strings crescendo in the background, there’s something about a country ballad that cuts straight to the heart. It’s been this way for over a century, since Appalachian singers like Texas Gladden began the country ballad tradition with a cappella renditions of songs older than anyone could remember. This playlist focuses on more modern interpretations of the genre, and the artists featured draw not just from the old traditions but also from the newer sounds of modern gospel and rock ’n’ roll.

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Featured Artists