How Judaism Has Been Underrepresented In Country Music

January 16, 2024
Asher Kaplan

Evanston, Illinois, United States

Class of 2026

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While country music has been deeply rooted in American culture, it has been criticized for its underrepresentation of certain religious and ethnic communities, including Judaism. The genre has predominantly highlighted themes such as Christianity or rural American life despite the diversity within country music’s audience. The underrepresentation has been a large talking point amongst country music enthusiasts and people who want to hear from different backgrounds.

Judaism, being a significant identity for many Americans, has not a lot of visibility within the genre of country music. This could be because the genre of country music was started and shaped around Southern traditions and Christian values. As a result, artists from Jewish backgrounds have had a lot fewer real opportunities to break out into the country music scene and shape country music and how it is today. 

In recent years, however, there has been a notable shift as emerging artists with diverse backgrounds are getting and receiving more recognition. Noah Kahan, an emerging country music star who is of Jewish descent, is breaking through the barriers of country music being limited to a few groups of people. Kahan’s breakout single “Hurt Somebody” came out in 2019, and that is when people really started hearing about him. A few years later, in 2022, Kahan released his album “Stick Season” with songs like “Northern Attitude” and “Stick Season,” which led to songs with features from Post Malone. His rising popularity showcases a positive change, showcasing that artists with Jewish roots can and will continue to make great contributions to the country scene. 

As Kahan continues to gain prominence, his success not only signifies a more inclusive era in country music, but it signifies a broader representation of diverse perspectives within the industry that can match the audience. The industry is evolving from what it was, and with it recognizing the importance of hearing and embracing artists from various backgrounds, including those with Jewish heritage. I see a great rise of inclusion and new subgenres of country in the future. 

Asher Kaplan is an Aleph from the Great Midwest Region and he likes working on cars and wakesurfing in his free time.

All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.

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