It is hard to define Country Music. Because there are many different styles of music in the Country Music I want to use the more general idea of "American Folk". You can identify the influences of English, French, Spanish, Irish, Slavic, German and Black music or these influences are mixed so much that a new style was created. So you find the Spanish influence more in the deep south, the French from north to south, known as Cajun music. Black music with gospel, spiritual and blues has a big influence on the American folk throughout the whole USA and Canada. Even the American Natives you find in the American Folk. This mixture created the Rock'n'Roll and the Rock'n'Roll itself influenced the Country Music as the successful Country Rock and Southern Rock.
All these different styles in the Country Music have one thing in common; it is taken from the normal people's life in the country. The quality of the music is so various like the people themselves. It covers sentimental stories to social and political themes and talks death. So "Folk music" for me is the correct word, because it comes from the ordinary people, "it sprang from that" like Waylon Jennings said and it isn't constructed as folk music like it is done in German folk music.
In the pop music the band often is more important than the singer. Waylon Jennings once said about Country Music, "In Country Music the singer is more important than the band". "Country Music is the music of the ordinary people, it sprang from that. In every house there was an instrument and the people played together just the way they wanted and as they felt". In the American Folk Music the lyrics are as important as the melody. Both elements have to join each other, support each other and have to become a unity. This the singer has to perform emotionally with his voice.