Since Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter family, country music has come a long way. In the 21st century, the genre looks and sounds so different from those days that A. C. Carter might not even recognize it.
The 2010s were a massive decade for country, as the genre continued steamrolling into the mainstream with loads of crossover hits. Here, we’ve listed 13 of the greatest and most famous country singers of the 2010s. Read on to learn about them!
Related: Check out our list of popular country singers here.
1. Luke Bryan
Born in 1976, Luke Bryan showed a passion for country music at an early age. When he was 19, he was set on moving to Nashville to pursue his dreams, but the unexpected death of his brother brought him back home for a while longer. Though this postponed his dream, he continued writing songs.
His solo career started in 2009 with his debut album’s release, but he really came into his own in the 2010s. During this decade, Bryan released a few EPs, a slew of singles, and four albums: Tailgates & Tanlines, Crash My Party, Kill the Lights, and What Makes You Country.
All his albums spawned hits for the Georgia-born singer and songwriter, and both Crash My Party and Tailgates & Tanlines were on Billboard’s list of the best-selling albums of the decade.
Related: Read more about other famous country singers from Georgia.
2. Jason Aldean
For better or for worse, Jason Aldean’s song “Dirt Road Anthem” made the rapping country singer a thing in 2011. Another Georgia boy, Aldean split time between Georgia and Florida in his childhood.
His recording career kicked off in 2005 with his debut album. But 2011’s “Dirt Road Anthem” brought him to the forefront of the country music scene. He released five more albums in the 2010s, and all sold well and carried multiple hit singles.
Before the release of Rearview Town, Aldean and his band were playing the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas when the tragic shooting occurred. While Aldean and his musician were not hit, 60 people in the crowd died.
As a tribute to the lost lives, Aldean opened late-night TV variety show Saturday Night Live six days later with Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.”
3. Brandi Carlile
Our next singer grew up in rural Washington in a musical family that loved Patsy Cline. Born in 1981, Brandi Carlile was so driven to play and sing country music that she dropped out of high school to pursue her career.
Her debut album dropped in 2005. She built on her successes, and her first album of the 2010s, Bear Creek (2012), appeared on three Billboard charts: the Billboard 200, Folk Albums, and Rock Albums.
Her albums The Firewatcher’s Daughter and By the Way, I Forgive You closed out the decade for Carlile with Grammy Award nominations, and the latter won three Grammys.
4. Kelsea Ballerini
Country pop singer Kelsea Ballerini was born in 1993 in Knoxville, Tennessee. As an only child, Ballerini took dance classes until she was 13, when she felt drawn toward music and singing. She headed for Nashville and, at age 19, signed a record deal.
Ballerini took the country music world by storm in 2014 after releasing a self-titled debut album whose first single went to #1. She followed up with three other singles, one (“Peter Pan”) of which made her the first female country artist to sit at the top of Billboard’s Country Airplay and Hot Country Songs charts.
Two more successful albums—Legends and Unapologetically—rounded out the 2010s for her.
5. Kane Brown
Born in 1993 Kane Brown at first tried reality TV after a classmate had some success on American Idol, which prompted him to try it, but nothing came out of this endeavor.
After that, the native Georgian looked to social media, posting covers of country hits. Having grown up in Tennessee, that was the genre he knew, and it paid off. One video went viral.
In 2014, he crowdsourced the funding to record Closer, his first EP. It ended up on the Billboard charts, and RCA signed him. He spent the 2010s releasing hit singles and successful albums, marrying, and having two daughters.
6. Maren Morris
Youngest on our list, we have Maren Morris. Born in Texas in 1990, Morris was a natural singer. She performed in her school choir and loved to karaoke. At age 12, Morris got a guitar. Three years later, she released a studio album.
After attending the University of North Texas, Morris headed for Nashville in 2013. She soon signed with Columbia Nashville and released Hero, her major-label debut album, which appeared on the Billboard charts at #1—a first for her label.
Before the decade finished, she won Best Country Solo Performance Grammy Award for her song “My Church” and a few CMA awards.
7. Miranda Lambert
Our next country singer, Miranda Lambert, arrived in Longview, Texas, in 1983, born to a former cop. She won some studio time in Nashville through a contest when she was 16 but was disillusioned by the experience.
She responded by learning to play the guitar and write songs; by 2001, she’d recorded her own album. Lambert competed in the talent TV show Nashville Star and came in third, but one of the judges signed her to a record deal anyway.
By the time the 2010s rolled around, she was already a star and kept recording. Many of her albums during this decade spawned top hits: Four the Record had five hits; Platinum, four; The Weight of These Wings, one; and Wildcard, three.
8. Darius Rucker
Before he was a country star, Darius Rucker was known to the world as Hootie (though he never actually went by that name), the lead singer of Hootie and the Blowfish. What started as a college band in the 1980s became a worldwide success and the band of the 1990s.
It wasn’t until 2008 that he released his first country album, Learn to Live, with three #1 singles.
Rucker roared into the 2010s riding on the success of Charleston, SC 1966, his second solo work. It had one #1 and a couple of other singles, but it was “Wagon Wheel,” a cover of a Bob Dylan tune, that won him a Grammy in 2013, his first since his Hootie days.
9. Eric Church
Born in North Carolina in 1977, Eric Church showed an interest in music in his early teens. After taking a marketing degree from Appalachian State, he headed for Nashville. By 2006, he had released his first single, “How ‘Bout You,” which ended up on Billboard’s Top 20.
In the 2010s, Church released four albums—Chief, The Outsiders, Mr. Misunderstood, and Desperate Man—and had more than ten singles on various Billboard charts.
He was nominated for multiple CMA Awards every year of the 2010s except 2011, when he got only one nomination. He brought home four of those trophies in a decade.
10. Kacey Musgraves
A Texas girl, Kasey Musgraves was born in 1988, and by age 8, she was writing songs. Six years later, she released an album she recorded herself and soon went on to compete on Nashville Star in 2007.
She didn’t win, but by 2012, she had signed a record deal. A year later, she won a Best Country Album Grammy for Same Trailer Different Park.
Musgraves released three more albums in the 2010s and amassed an armload of Grammys and other awards. She remains a darling of the country music world to this day.
11. Chris Stapleton
Next up, Chris Stapleton was born into a coal mining family in Kentucky in 1978. He left for Nashville not to pursue music but to get an engineering degree from Vanderbilt.
But what do you do in Nashville? Music stuff, and Stapleton eventually dropped out of college to do just that. He spent the first few years of the 21st century penning hits for country royalty like George Strait, Lee Ann Womack, Tim McGraw, and a host of others.
In 2015, he stepped out on his own, recording Traveller, his debut album. It made him the first person to win the CMA Awards’ Album of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, and New Artist of the Year at the same ceremony.
He released a follow-up two years later, From a Room: Volume 1 and then Volume 2, both of which debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200 chart.
12. Lil Nas X
Born Montero Lamar Hill in Georgia in 1999, Lil Nas X spent a few years in the 2010s mining Twitter and Instagram for likes and cultivating internet fame.
He learned how to make something go viral, recorded “Old Town Road,” and broke the internet. The song was a smash hit, but Billboard wouldn’t list it on its country charts because somehow it “wasn’t country enough.”
In response, he drafted Billy Ray Cyrus to write and record a verse for a new recording, then released it. The song blew up the internet all over again and was streamed over 143 million times in one week alone in April 2019.
13. Pistol Annies
Lastly, we have the Pistol Annies, which consists of three great singer-songwriters. Though Miranda Lambert is the superstar of the trio, the lesser-known Nashville stars Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley were just as important for the success of their debut album Hell on Heels, released in 2011.
They later appeared on Blake Shelton’s #1 hit “Boys ‘Round Here,” which kept them in our ears until they released Annie Up later that year.
Due to Lambert’s solo success and Monroe’s and Presley’s songwriting and solo projects, the group, between albums, occupies a kind of limbo in which nobody really knows when they’ll make another record.
Summing Up Our List Of Famous 2010s Country Singers
From staple names in country music to breakout stars, all these artists have found great success in the 2010s.
With hundreds of thousands of album sales and hundreds of millions of streams between them, they have produced some of the best country music for that decade.
We’re sure you’ll find a country singer, or more, that you’ll enjoy listening to in the list above.
However, this is far from complete. Who did we miss off our list? Let us know and we’ll add them in.