While not synonymous with country music to the extent of Tennessee or Texas, Alabama has a strong country music heritage. Alabama is a state known for a few things: barbecue, gorgeous beaches, football rivalries, and classic southern cities. It’s also known for some very famous country crooners.
It’s one of the places in the American South where country and blues come together to create their own unique sound. This sound became a fundamental part of southern music and is the bedrock of genres like rockabilly and southern rock.
So to celebrate all the music coming from the Yellowhammer State, let’s take a trip through the Heart of Dixie and learn about 10 of the most famous country singers from Alabama. Read on!
Related: Check out our list of top country singers here.
1. Hank Williams Sr.
Undoubtedly among the most famous music artists of all time, Hank Williams Sr. is the most popular country musician on this list. He was born in Mt. Olive, Alabama, in 1923 and lived in several other towns in the state throughout his youth.
While living in Georgiana, Alabama, Williams met blues musician Rufus “Tee-Tot” Payne, who helped him learn to play guitar. Eventually, Williams moved to Montgomery, Alabama, to further his career and recorded his first songs.
This includes “Move It on Over” and “Lovesick Blues,” and the latter was added to the National Recording Registry in 2004. The rest, as they say, is great music history!
Related: For more like Hank, see our list of the best male country singers here.
2. Emmylou Harris
One of country music’s greats is Emmylou Harris. She is a singer, songwriter, and bandleader and has collaborated with innumerable famous musicians.
Born in Birmingham, Alabama, to a military family, Harris was a high achiever who won a scholarship to a performing arts school. After a brief stint at college, her talent and passion drew her to New York City, where she entered the folk scene, performing at bars around Greenwich Village.
She made her big label debut in 1975 with Pieces of the Sky. This was the beginning of a long and celebrated career that includes 14 Grammys, induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and many more honors.
You can’t make a list of country stars from Alabama without mentioning—you guessed it—Alabama! The band was founded by cousins Randy Owen, Teddy Gentry, and Jeff Cook, who grew up near Fort Payne, Alabama.
This mega hit-making group started playing in bars and other small venues and met plenty of bumps in the road while building their career near the end of the ’60s.
However, by the 1980s, Alabama was all over country radio stations with chart-toppers like “The Closer You Get,” “Tennessee River,” and “40 Hour Week.” Their music mixes bluegrass, southern gospel, southern rock, and modern country.
4. Vern Gosdin
Born in Woodland, Alabama, Vern Gosdin had a string of country music hits from the 1970s through the 1990s. You may remember “Set ‘Em Up Joe” and “I Can Tell By the Way You Dance.”
Gosdin grew up in a big family, and his mom encouraged her children to sing in church. Soon, his talents were recognized by the heads of a local radio station; they offered him and his brother a spot on the air. However, it wasn’t until many years later that Gosdin would find significant success.
He and his brother became part of a few country ensemble bands, making a name for themselves, working with the likes of Glen Campbell and Clarence White.
Later, Gosdin reached the top 5 with “If You’re Gonna Do Me Wrong, Do It Right” and “Way Down Deep.” “I Can Tell By the Way You Dance” reached number 1 in 1984.
5. Walker Hayes
Modern country star Walker Hayes knows how to reach the new generation of country fans, and the success of his song “Fancy Like” proves it.
Hayes was born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, and attended Birmingham-Southern University, where he studied music. The aforementioned song made it to #1 on the charts in 2021. Another song, “AA,” made it to the top 5.
He drops brand names and uses electronic beats in his songs. He is known to interact with his fans on social media, including doing adorable TikTok dances with his daughter.
“AA” is a personal song about Hayes’s life challenges, including managing work-life balance, being a dad, and staying sober.
6. Jamey Johnson
Many country fans remember Jamey Johnson for his 2008 song “In Color.” The ballad, which charted in the top ten on Billboard‘s Hot Country Songs, tells the story of an exchange between an older man and his grandson.
The grandfather shows the child pictures of different parts of his life, from his childhood in the Great Depression to his service in WWII, to his wedding. He tells the young man, “You should have seen it in color,” meaning he wishes he had been there to experience it firsthand truly.
Johnson, raised in Montgomery, Alabama, has written songs for many country stars and has a thriving career as a solo artist. He continues to have a successful music career with multiple Grammy nominations and country music award wins.
7. Little Big Town
The band Little Big Town was formed when members met at Samford University, a private Christan college in Homewood, Alabama. With four-part harmonies, catchy tunes, and true country soul, the band moved on to be one of the most popular country groups of the 2010s.
Over the years, Little Big Town has changed and adapted their style to remain relevant and fresh as the country music scene evolves. This strategy has served them well.
Hits like “Boondocks,” “Girl Crush,” and “Pontoon” saw tons of radio play, and the band has been nominated and won multiple Grammys, CMT Awards, ACM Awards, and Billboard Music Awards, among other honors.
8. The Louvin Brothers
Made up of Charlie and Ira Louvin, the Louvin Brothers had a string of top-ten songs on the country charts during the 1950s.
Some of their top songs include “I Don’t Believe You’ve Met My Baby,” “You’re Running Wild,” and “When I Stop Dreaming.” The brothers got their start in the Baptist church, and their faith heavily influenced their early music.
Their musical style drew heavily on both gospel and bluegrass, with Ira playing the mandolin and Charlie on guitar. Ira sang in a tenor voice using plenty of vibrato, which was—and is—typical for bluegrass music.
Their style is rarely hard in mainstream country music today, but their contribution to the genre is undeniable. They are the Grand Ole Opry members and were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
9. Allison Moorer
Unlike Shania Twain or Faith Hill, Allison Moorer was never a huge mainstream country star, which is surprising considering her talent and beauty.
The singer-songwriter is picky with her projects and has opted for a different type of career, one that falls in line with her particular gifts and personal values.
The Mobile, Alabama, native has written songs for some of the greats of country music. She also has had a steady solo career of her own. She was nominated for an Academy Award in 1999 for “A Soft Place to Fall” for the film The Horse Whisperer.
10. Jeanne Pruett
Lastly, we have the country artist of the 1970s, Norma Jean Bowman—best known as Jeanne Pruett. This Pell City, Alabama gal made it big with her song “Satin Sheets.”
The hit single and album of the same name earned her a spot in the Grand Ole Opry in 1973. She continued performing there over the years and recording top-ten hits songs like “Temporarily Yours,” “Back to Back,” and “It’s Too Late.”
Following a decline in popularity, Pruett went on to succeed in a second career in cooking. She continued performing once in a while but mainly focused on this new venture as well as publishing cookbooks before retiring in 2006.
Summing Up Our List Of Famous Alabama Country Singers
As you can see, Alabama has had many great country singers emerge, and with modern singers like Walker Hayes and Jamey Johnson, more are still rising.
As a Deep South state with so much culture and history, it’s no wonder Alabama has bred many notable artists in this genre.
However, this is just a small fraction of the amazing country talent coming out of the state. Who did we miss off this list? Let us know and we’ll add them in!