10 Of The Greatest And Most Famous Country Singers From Oklahoma 

Last updated

Visit Oklahoma, and you’re likely to hear country music playing in restaurants, bars, and concert venues. You don’t have to be an “Okie from Muskogee” to know that country music is woven into the culture of Oklahoma. 

Read on to learn more about some of the most famous country singers from Oklahoma and how they trailblazed their way to stardom in the music industry.

1. Garth Brooks  

This famous son of Oklahoma is one of country music’s biggest stars. Garth Brooks was born in Tulsa and grew up in Yukon, Oklahoma.

Brooks learned to play guitar and banjo as a child. During his college years at Oklahoma State University, he worked at night as a club bouncer and formed a band.  

Discovered while playing bars in Oklahoma, Brooks saw success with his first album, including two singles that were number one on the country charts.

His second album, “No Fences,” cemented his stellar status with hits such as “The Thunder Rolls,” “Unanswered Prayers,” and his signature song, “Friends in Low Places.” 

2. Reba McEntire  

One of country music’s queens, Reba McEntire, was born in McAlester, Oklahoma. Growing up on a ranch in Chockie, Oklahoma, McEntire earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education but heard the call of country music stardom.

Discovered not long after singing the National Anthem in the National Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City, McEntire had modest but growing success. 

Her ninth studio album was a breakthrough, leading to international stardom with the hit single “Whoever’s in New England.”

More musical success as well as acting in films, television, and on Broadway followed. McEntire’s accolades include three Grammys, a Kennedy Center Honor, and being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.  

3. Toby Keith 

Country music chart-topper Toby Keith was born in Clinton, Oklahoma. Keith grew up in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and Moore, Oklahoma, a suburb of Oklahoma City.

First working in the oil industry, Keith and his friends formed a country music band as a side gig.  

By 1990, Keith performed on the streets of Nashville and circulated demo tapes hoping to be discovered.

That hard work paid off, as Keith’s debut single, “Should’ve Been a Cowboy,” went to number one. The top of the charts is where Keith has returned 19 more times since then, and he’s still recording.  

4. Carrie Underwood 

Country music star Carrie Underwood was born in Muscogee, Oklahoma, and grew up on her parents’ farm in Checotah, Oklahoma.

Underwood first found music when she sang at church but found fame after performing as an “American Idol” contestant. She went on to win the show in 2005. Underwood was named Oklahoman of the Year by Oklahoma Today the same year.

She hit the charts with “Inside Your Heaven” and followed with “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” both of which hit number one.

She’s won eight Grammys, 12 Billboard Music Awards, 16 Academy of Country Music Awards, 17 American Music Awards, nine Country Music Association Awards, five CMT Artist of the Year Awards, and 23 CMT Music Awards.  

5. Vince Gill  

Country crooner Vince Gill hails from Norman, Oklahoma, has hit the top of the country charts more than 40 times with hits such as “I Still Believe in You.”

First tasting fame as a member of the country-rock band Pure Prairie League, Gill then became a member of Rodney Crowell’s band and got signed as a solo artist for RCA but saw only modest success.  

When Gill left RCA for MCA Records, he sold more than a million copies of the single “When I Call Your Name,” released in 1989.

Since then, he’s won 22 Grammy Awards and sold more than 26 million albums, putting him among country music royalty. 

6. Blake Shelton 

Born in Ada, Oklahoma, and reared in Tishomingo, Oklahoma, Blake Shelton is a country music star who’s become a familiar face on television, hosting “The Voice” on NBC.

He’s received 10 Country Music Association, six Academy of Country Music Awards, 10 CMT Awards, and one CMT Artist of the Year Award. 

Shelton’s breakthrough single “Austin” achieved Platinum status, and he’s been setting record sales records since. H

e, along with George Strait and fellow Oklahoman Vince Gill, holds the record for most Country Music Association Male Vocalist of the Year wins, with five each.

In 2017, he was the first country music singer to be named People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive.  

7. Mel McDaniel 

A native of Checotah, Oklahoma, country music singer-songwriter Mel McDaniel.

The late McDaniel created upbeat country hits, including “Big Ole Brew,” “Stand Up,” and “Baby’s Got Her Blue Jeans On.” 

McDaniel’s interest in music was piqued after seeing Elvis perform on television. He learned to play the trumpet in the fourth grade but quickly found the guitar more to his liking.

Playing in bands during high school led to McDaniel touring in Tulsa as well as in Anchorage, Alaska. His country music career skyrocketed with the release of “Louisiana Saturday Night” in 1981.  

8. Hoyt Axton 

Country singer Hoyt Axton was born in Duncan, Oklahoma, and grew up in Comanche, Oklahoma, before hitting the country music charts with songs such as “Boney Fingers,” “When the Morning Comes,” and “Della and the Dealer.” 

The late Axton also made numerous television appearances, with cameos on shows such as “Bonanza,” “WKRP in Cincinnati,” and “Diff’rent Strokes.”

Many of the songs Axton wrote were made famous by others. Three Dog Night had hits with “Joy to the World” and “Never Been to Spain,” and the likes of Joan Baez, Glen Campbell, John Denver, Waylon Jennings, and Anne Murray have covered his songs.  

9. Joe Diffie 

This “Regular Joe” and “Pickup Man” hails from Tulsa, Oklahoma. Joe Diffie recorded certified Platinum albums, including “Honky Tonk Attitude,” released in 1993, and 1994’s “Third Rock from the Sun.”

His albums “Regular Joe” from 1992 and “Life’s So Funny” from 1995 went Gold. 

With a sound described as neotraditional country, Diffie recorded seven studio albums, a Christmas album, and a Greatest Hits album with Epic, his longest-lasting recording relationship. Diffie died in 2020 of complications of COVID-19. 

10. John Fullbright 

John Fullbright, an Okemah, Oklahoma native, gained fame as a member of the Turnpike Troubadours, among the country music bands with Oklahoma roots.

In 2014, Fullbright’s album “From the Ground Up” was nominated for a Grammy for Best Americana Album, and his performances have been featured on National Public Radio. 

The same year, Fullbright won the Rising Star Award from the Oklahoma Country Music Hall of Fame.

Fullbright hails from the same town as folk singing great Woody Guthrie, and he’s performed multiple times at Okemah’s Woody Guthrie Festival.  

Oklahoma’s Contributions to Country Music 

Oklahoma’s country music roots run deep. A western state known for its ranches and farms, Oklahoma is a state that values the love of family and country.

These values are echoed in the country music written and sung by the country music stars who hail from Oklahoma. 

Listen to the songs performed by Oklahoma’s country music greats, and you’ll be a fan of the state of Oklahoma and its country music greats. 

Photo of author
Written by Laura Macmillan
Laura has over 12 years experience teaching both classical and jazz saxophone and clarinet. She now resides in California where she works as a session and live performer.