Some people just have that magic touch when it comes to music. And as we found out, country music is full of these talented people.
From singers who can belt out notes, to those who have a captivating way of telling a heartwarming story through ballads, country has it all.
Over the years, a lot of singers have helped popularize the genre, turning country music into what it is today. In this post, we’re going to look at 50 of the greatest and most famous country singers of all time to see how they’ve influenced country music over the years. Let’s start!
1. Taylor Swift
Swift’s exploration of different genres makes her a versatile singer and songwriter. She wrote many songs that mixed pop, rock, and electronic influences. Her more recent songs now have an indie-folk and alternative rock feel.
This talented artist has over 200 million records sold worldwide, making her one of the best-selling music artists of all time. According to Billboard, Swift had nine #1 hits, 42 Top 10 hits, and 212 songs.
She also won 12 Grammy awards and various awards from the Country Music Association, Billboard Music Awards, and American Music Awards. Rolling Stone also featured her in its list of 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time in 2015.
2. Garth Brooks
While Brooks’ first two albums were successful, it was his third album, Ropin’ the Wind, that became the first country album to reach the #1 spot on the Billboard 200.
Brooks’ integration of country, pop, and rock further propelled him to popularity. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and into the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum.
Aside from being a talented musician, Brooks is also a prolific songwriter. His songs spark inspiration, and the Songwriters Hall of Fame recognized it by inducting him in 2012.
3. George Strait
The acclaimed country singer-songwriter George Strait is next on our list. Born in Texas, Brooks would eventually be known as the King of Country Music.
Strait was credited with pioneering the neotraditional country style in the 1980s. His good looks, vibrant personality, and cowboy image added to his appeal.
Strait rose to prominence in the 1980s and 1990s. His career spans over three decades, with an astonishing 60 #1 singles. His discography includes hit songs such as “Fool Hearted Memory,” “The Chair,” and “Give It All We Got Tonight.”
With more than 120 million records sold worldwide, he is one of the best-selling music artists of all time.
4. Shania Twain
The Queen of Country Pop Shania Twain rose to fame in the mid-1990s. A career that spans three decades witnessed Twain making contributions to both country and pop genres.
Twain released her self-titled debut album in 1993, but it didn’t succeed. That didn’t deter her, and she released a comeback album a couple of years later titled The Woman in Me. This album became a hit, and her success rose from there.
Twain is a strong songwriter, and many of her songs have themes of feminism and female empowerment woven throughout them. Her songs are often a mix of mainstream pop and country music, so many critics don’t consider her as a country artist.
Despite the criticism, Twain continues to write and release songs that blend genres, and many of her fans can relate to her lyrics. As of this writing, she has sold over 100 million records worldwide.
5. Tim McGraw
Aside from being one of the most famous and influential country singers, Tim McGraw is also a talented actor, guitarist, and record producer. He has released 17 albums to date, and 10 of them have occupied the #1 spot on the Top Country Albums charts.
McGraw entered the country music scene in the mid-1990s, and over the years, he became known for his ballads and love songs. His ability to produce relatable songs and adapt and influence music trends has made him a household name.
To date, McGraw has received three Grammy Awards, three People’s Choice Awards, 10 American Music Awards, 11 Country Music Association Awards, and 14 Academy of Country Music Awards. As of this writing, he has sold more than 90 million records globally.
6. Reba McEntire
Often called the Queen of Country, Reba McEntire is one of the most successful female country singers. She sold more than 90 million records worldwide and had over 100 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.
Her most famous album is For My Broken Heart, which she produced after losing most of her band members in a tragic plane crash. This remains her best-selling album.
McEntire’s musical roots began in country music. But as she matured as an artist, she expanded into different genres, including mainstream pop, soul, and R&B.
She’s also very talented in singing and possesses solid vocal control that enables her to sing complex melodies. No wonder she is an icon and “the Queen of Country.”
7. Johnny Cash
The Man in Black Johnny Cash was one of the biggest country stars during the ’50s and ’60s. He was known for mixing country, rock, blues, and gospel elements, which helped in broadening the scope of country music.
Cash stood out for his deep baritone voice and a percussive guitar. Despite the simplicity, he would become one of the most influential figures in post-World War II country music.
He paved his own path and eventually became the youngest living person inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. He was also inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, Rockabilly Hall of Fame, and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Throughout his career, Cash wrote more than 1,000 songs and charted more than 100 hit singles. With more than 90 million records sold, he is one of the best-selling music artists of all time.
Aside from these, Cash also won 18 Grammy Awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award, and nine CMA Awards.
8. Carrie Underwood
From the American Idol stage to the world stage, singer-songwriter Carrie Underwood has come a long way. She rose to fame after winning the fourth season of the popular TV singing competition.
Underwood is known for her powerful vocals, and her songs showcase her vocal talents. She is also recognized as a crossover artist for performing in other genres such as pop and gospel.
Underwood broke records with her debut single, “Inside Your Heaven,” and became the only country artist to debut at Billboard Hot 100’s #1 spot. Throughout her career, she has 85 #1 singles on the Billboard. She also has 16 singles dominating the Billboard Country Airplay and 14 singles top the Hot Country Songs.
For her contributions to music, Underwood won numerous awards. She won eight Grammys, 12 Billboard Music Awards, and 17 American Music Awards. She was also one of the 100 most influential people in 2014 according to Time Magazine.
9. Luke Bryan
The celebrated country star and television personality Luke Bryan began as a songwriter for several artists, including Travis Tritt and Billy Currington.
It wasn’t until the release of his debut album, I’ll Stay Me, that he gained mainstream popularity. His debut single, “All My Friends Say,” peaked at #5 on the Hot Country Songs chart.
Since then, Bryan released several successful albums, which showcase his talent for creating catchy country songs. Within his first 10 albums, 30 songs became #1 hits.
Bryan has been awarded “Entertainer of the Year” five times by the Academy of Country Music Awards and the Country Music Association. As of this writing, he has sold over 75 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling music artists.
10. Willie Nelson
When Willie Nelson wrote his first song, he was just seven years old. At 10, he was performing with his own band.
He performed throughout his childhood and adolescence, and he eventually moved to Nashville and became a songwriter for Pamper Music. He wrote hits for artists such as Faron Young and Patsy Cline.
After experiencing many ups and downs in Nashville, Nelson moved to Texas. Here, he eventually found success after releasing Red-Headed Stranger. He rose to fame after the release of this album.
He went on to win many awards, including several Grammys. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and was in Rolling Stone‘s 100 Greatest Singers and 100 Greatest Guitarists. He was also the first recipient of CMA’s Lifetime Achievement Award, which was named after him.
Nelson heavily influenced and added to the outlaw country subgenre and always pushed the boundaries. In a career that spanned more than six decades, he has sold more than 60 million records worldwide.
11. Kenny Chesney
The renowned country music singer-songwriter and guitarist Kenny Chesney is one of the influential figures of country music.
Chesney is famous for the honesty and emotional appeal of his romantic ballads. He is also known for his unique style that blends traditional country with rock and pop elements.
He recorded 19 studio albums and has more than 40 top-10 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs and Country Airplay charts. Out of 40, 32 were #1 singles. Some of his most famous songs include “Don’t Blink,” “How Forever Feels,” and “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems.”
He also headlined successful tours, with his Flip-Flop Summer Tour being the highest-grossing country tour in 2007. Throughout his career, he has sold more than 30 million records worldwide.
Chesney’s immense success drew the attention of the Country Music Association. They awarded him the Entertainer of the Year Award four years in a row.
12. Keith Urban
Another talented country artist is the singer-songwriter and guitarist Keith Urban, whose music career began in Australia. He released his self-titled debut album in 1990 and moved to Nashville shortly afterward.
In more than 30 years, Urban released numerous chart-topping albums and singles. While these showcased his passion for American country music, he also experimented with mixing rock with country music. This blend of influences eventually became his signature sound.
Urban is a recipient of numerous awards. He has been nominated for Grammy Awards 19 times, eventually winning four. He received four American Music Awards and six ARIA Music Awards for his contribution to Australian country music.
As of this writing, he has sold more than 17 million records worldwide. With these accomplishments, he stands among the ranks of some of country music’s greats.
13. Brad Paisley
The music career of acclaimed country music singer-songwriter and guitarist Brad Paisley began in 1999 with his first album, Who Needs Pictures.
From 1999, Paisley mainly recorded and performed with his band, The Drama Kings. His style expands through country rock, hard rock, and Southern rock.
Since then, he has released 12 studio albums, all of which were either certified Gold or higher by the RIAA. In addition, he has 35 top-10 singles on the Billboard Country Airplay chart. Twenty of these reached #1. He also made a record in 2009 when he had 10 consecutive singles dominating the top spot of the chart.
Throughout his career, Paisley has won three Grammy Awards, 14 Academy of Country Music Awards, 14 Country Music Association Awards, and two American Music Awards. Aside from performing, he also worked on significant projects like writing songs for the Pixar film, Cars.
14. Chris Stapleton
The Kentucky native Chris Stapleton had his career beginnings as a member of two bands, the SteelDrivers, and the Jompson Brothers. In 2015, he went solo, a decision that led to a successful career in country music.
That same year, Stapleton released his first solo debut album, Traveller, and it soared to the #1 spot on Billboard 200. More albums and singles followed that further propelled him to fame and recognition.
Along with being a talented singer, he’s also an exceptional songwriter. He wrote and co-wrote over 170 songs, including Kenny Chesney’s “Never Wanted Nothing More,” George Strait’s “Love’s Gonna Make It Alright”, and Luke Bryan’s “Drink a Beer.” All of these were chart toppers.
Some of his songs made their way into the albums of several big names such as Adele, Kelly Clarkson, and Taylor Swift. His career also witnessed Stapleton co-writing with other artists such as Sheryl Crow and Ed Sheeran.
15. Blake Shelton
One of the most successful country artists today is Blake Shelton. He is best known for his style of music as a mix of rock and country ballads.
He got his foot in the door as a songwriter who sold songs to music publishing houses. He eventually landed a contract with Giant Records and released “Austin” in 2001. The single dominated the Billboard Hot Country Songs for five weeks.
Between then and now, Shelton released 12 studio albums. Forty of his singles charted, 28 of which peaked at #1. His 2014 single “Doin’ What She Likes” broke the record when it became the 11 consecutive #1 single.
He won many awards over the years, including one Billboard Music award, 10 Country Music Association Awards, six Academy of Country Music Awards, and 10 CMT Music Awards. He also received one CMT Artist of the Year award.
Aside from performing, Shelton is a popular coach on the TV show, The Voice. He has had eight winners emerge from his team.
16. Luke Combs
The highly successful country music singer-songwriter Luke Combs began performing as a child and even took the stage at Carnegie Hall.
His musical style tends to do crossovers with country and other genres. It can be challenging to define, but he’s still able to produce hits that appeal to the masses.
Combs released a successful debut album in 2017, and it sat at the number four spot on Billboard 200. He went on to release three more studio albums, four extended plays, and 16 singles.
So far, he has two Grammy Award nominations, two iHeart Radio music awards, and six Country Music Association Awards. The Country Music Association also gave him the 2021 Entertainer of the Year Award.
17. Miranda Lambert
We’ve got a spot for singer-songwriter and guitarist Miranda Lambert. She can write feisty songs with honest and blunt lyrics, but she can also be very vulnerable in her songs. These qualities make her songs very relatable to many of her fans and listeners.
She began her career in 2001 when she released her self-titled debut album. Aside from being a solo artist, she is also a member of the country music group Pistol Annies.
In more than two decades, Lambert released eight solo albums, four with Pistol Annies, and one collaborative album.
Lambert garnered 25 Grammy nominations, winning three of them. She was the first woman to win two Album of the Year awards from the Country Music Association Awards. Throughout her career, she has sold more than eight million records worldwide.
18. Hank Williams
Up next on the list, we have Hank Williams. He is one of the most influential musicians in country music history.
Williams rose to fame after singing songs on a local radio show in Mongomery, Alabama. He started his own band called the Drifting Cowboys, which grew popular throughout Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.
Williams became known as one of the first country music superstars in the US. Some of his most popular hits include “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” “Cold, Cold Heart,” and “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive.”
Although he had a brief career due to a fatal heart attack at age 29, his music impacted the next generation of country singers. Many continue to pay tribute to him by releasing covers of his songs.
Related: Check out this post for more famous country singers from Alabama.
19. Merle Haggard
Another luminary of the country music genre is Merle Haggard. Known as the Poet of the Common Man, his sound — a mix of honky-tonk, blues, jazz, pop, and folk — and style have helped shape the genre since his debut in 1965.
Haggard’s peak career years were marked by numerous hit singles and critically acclaimed albums. He recorded 41 number-one hits, making him one of the most successful country artists of his time. “Okie from Muskogee,” “Sing Me Back Home,” and “Mama Tried” are among these hits.
His impact on the country music genre and the music industry at large cannot be overstated. As a testament to this, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
20. Loretta Lynn
The Queen of Country of her time Loretta Lynn had a career that spanned more than six decades. Born in Kentucky into a coal miner family, her humble beginnings and early experiences in rural America would later become central themes in her music.
After teaching herself to play the guitar, in 1960, she released her first single, “I’m a Honky Tonk Girl.” The song became a minor hit and provided her with her first taste of success. However, it was her 1970 song “Coal Miner’s Daughter” that truly catapulted her into the limelight.
The autobiographical song resonated with listeners and quickly climbed the charts, eventually reaching #1 on the Billboard Country Chart. It was so popular that it later inspired a best-selling autobiography and a highly successful film of the same name.
21. Dolly Parton
Hailing from Tennessee, Dolly Parton is a celebrated figure in the world of country music and beyond, known for her significant contributions to the industry over the years.
Parton was one of 12 children in a poor farming family. Despite their financial struggles, the family was rich in music, and it was in this environment that Parton’s love for music was nurtured. Her career took off in the 1960s, and she quickly established herself as a talented songwriter and singer with a unique and distinctive voice.
Parton’s success in the country music scene soon led to crossover success in pop music, and songs such as “Jolene,” “I Will Always Love You,” and “9 to 5” made her one of the most influential figures in country music.
22. Waylon Jennings
Up next is one of the pioneering figures in country music, particularly outlaw country: Waylon Jennings. Raised in a musical household, Jennings was playing guitar by the time he was eight. His early career saw him serving in the US Air Force and working as a disc jockey across several states.
Jennings’s rise to fame began when he became the protege of Buddy Holly, even playing bass in Holly’s band. He later debuted with Folk-Country in 1966 and has since had a great impact on the country music scene.
His album Honky Tonk Heroes is considered a classic in the outlaw country genre, and his hits like “Good Hearted Woman” and “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” topped the charts and are still beloved today.
23. Patsy Cline
Known for her rich tone and emotionally expressive singing style, Patsy Cline played a pivotal role in the country music industry, helping to pave the way for women in the genre.
Cline began her career in the mid-1950s; however, she truly became a mainstream success in the early ’60s with timeless hits such as “Crazy,” “I Fall to Pieces,” and “She’s Got You.”
Cline’s career trajectory was abruptly cut short when she died tragically in a plane crash in 1963 at the age of 30. Nevertheless, her legacy endured. In 1973, she became the first female solo artist inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
24. George Jones
From Saratoga, Texas, we have George Jones. The singer’s early life was marked by poverty, but he found solace in music. He started his recording career in the mid-1950s, scoring his first hit with “Why Baby Why.”
Over the course of his career, Jones recorded more than 150 hits, both as a solo and duet performer. His most notable songs include “White Lightning,” “She Thinks I Still Care,” and “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” which is often hailed as one of the greatest country songs ever recorded.
Jones was a member of the Grand Ole Opry and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1992. Despite his passing in 2013, his legacy continues to inspire and influence country music artists and fans alike.
25. Buck Owens
Alvis Edgar Owens Jr., known professionally as Buck Owens, is best known for his role in creating the Bakersfield sound, a subgenre of country music that offered a rawer, more rock-and-roll-infused alternative to the polished Nashville sound that was popular during his era.
Owens moved to Bakersfield, California, in the early 1950s, where he became a regular performer in the area’s honky-tonks. His first #1 hit came in 1963 with “Act Naturally,” which was later covered by The Beatles. Other significant hits include “I’ve Got a Tiger By the Tail” and “Love’s Gonna Live Here.”
Owens was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1996, underscoring his significant contribution to the genre. Today, his music continues to be celebrated for its energy, originality, and enduring appeal.
26. Jimmie Rodgers
Often referred to as the Father of Country Music, Jimmie Rodgers‘ career began in the late 1920s when he recorded songs that incorporated elements of blues, jazz, yodeling, and traditional folk.
His first big hit, “Blue Yodel No. 1 (T for Texas),” was released in 1927 and became a nationwide success. This song introduced his signature vocal technique, the blue yodel, which became a defining characteristic of his music.
Despite suffering from tuberculosis, Rodgers continued to record music, producing a total of 110 songs in his short six-year career. Some of his most notable tracks include “In the Jailhouse Now,” “Mule Skinner Blues,” and “Mississippi Delta Blues.”
Rodgers died in 1933, at the age of 35. Later, he was among the first three artists to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1961. He was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.
27. Ray Price
In his early career, Ray Price was known for his honky-tonk sound, which was popular in the 1950s. His first big hit was “Talk to Your Heart” in 1952. Later, he developed what came to be known as the Ray Price beat, characterized by a 4/4 shuffle rhythm, which can be heard in songs like “Crazy Arms” and “City Lights.”
In the late 1960s, Price transitioned towards a more pop-oriented sound, often incorporating lush string arrangements. This can be heard in his version of Kris Kristofferson’s “For The Good Times,” which became one of his biggest hits.
Despite some backlash from traditional country fans, Price continued to experiment with his music throughout his career, refusing to be pigeonholed into one style or genre. Price was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1996, acknowledging his important contributions to the genre.
28. Tammy Wynette
Virginia Wynette Pugh, a.k.a. Tammy Wynette, is often hailed as the First Lady of Country Music. She is best known for her signature song, “Stand by Your Man,” which has become a classic in country music.
Wynette began her career in the mid-1960s after moving to Nashville, Tennessee. Her first big hit was “Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad” in 1967, which launched her into the spotlight.
Throughout her career, Wynette released a series of successful singles, including “D-I-V-O-R-C-E” and “I Don’t Wanna Play House,” which both reached #1 on the country charts. Wynette went on to perform and record music until her death in 1998.
29. Glen Campbell
Singer-songwriter and musician Glen Campbell started his career as a session musician. His guitar skills were highly sought after, and he became part of the famed group of Los Angeles studio musicians known as The Wrecking Crew.
In the 1960s, Campbell embarked on a solo career and quickly gained recognition with hits like “Gentle on My Mind,” “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” and “Wichita Lineman.” His music often fused elements of country, pop, and rock.
One of Campbell’s biggest hits came in 1975 with “Rhinestone Cowboy,” which topped both the country and pop charts. The song became his signature tune and remains a classic of the genre.
Throughout his career, Campbell received numerous awards, including multiple Grammys. In 2005, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
30. Conway Twitty
Mississippi native Harold Lloyd Jenkins, known to fans as Conway Twitty, was a prolific country music singer. He’s best known for his smooth, deep voice and his several chart-topping hits during the 1970s and ’80s.
Twitty originally sought success in rock and roll and pop genres, with his biggest hit being “It’s Only Make Believe,” which topped the charts. However, he shifted his focus to country music and quickly found a new level of success.
Fan-favorite tracks such as “Hello Darlin’,” “Tight Fittin’ Jeans,” and “I’d Love to Lay You Down” showcased his ability to express complex emotions through his music, often exploring themes of love, heartbreak, and desire.
Twitty passed away suddenly in 1993, but his influence on country music continues to be felt. He was posthumously inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1999.
31. Bill Monroe
Next up we have the Father of Bluegrass Bill Monroe. His contributions to the genre were so significant that bluegrass was named after his band, the Blue Grass Boys, which he formed in 1938.
The band would become one of the most influential groups in the history of bluegrass music. Their high-energy performances and distinctive sound laid the foundation for what we know as bluegrass today.
One of Monroe’s most enduring songs is “Blue Moon of Kentucky,” which has been covered by numerous artists, including Elvis Presley. The song was selected for the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry due to its cultural significance.
Throughout his career, Monroe received numerous accolades, including being inducted into both the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He continued to perform into his eighties, up until shortly before his death in 1996.
32. Alan Jackson
Georgia native Alan Jackson is a highly respected figure in the country music industry. Blending traditional honky-tonk and mainstream country sounds, he has had a successful career spanning over three decades.
Throughout his career, Jackson has recorded 16 studio albums and scored more than 35 number-one hits on the Billboard country charts. This includes memorable songs like “Don’t Rock the Jukebox,” “Remember When,” and “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning),” a poignant response to the events of September 11, 2001.
He has been recognized for his works with inductions in various halls of fame, including the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 2001, the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2017, and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2018.
33. Kris Kristofferson
Also a renowned figure in country music, we have Kris Kristofferson. Born in San Mateo, California, he later moved to Nashville, Tennessee. Here, he began writing songs for other artists.
However, it wasn’t long before Kristofferson started performing himself. His breakthrough came in 1971 with the release of his album The Silver Tongued Devil and I, which established him as a critical favorite in the country music scene.
Some of his most popular works include “Me and Bobby McGee,” “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” and “Help Me Make It Through the Night.” These songs not only topped music charts but also won numerous awards, cementing Kristofferson’s place among the greats of American music.
In addition to his music career, Kristofferson also made a name for himself as an actor. He starred in several films, most notably the 1979 A Star Is Born, for which he won a Golden Globe for Best Actor.
34. Tom T. Hall
In the world of country music, Tom T. Hall is affectionately known as the Storyteller in the world of country music. His music career started in the late 1950s when he organized a band called the Kentucky Travelers.
However, his breakthrough came after he moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where he began writing songs for other artists. In the 1970s, Hall emerged as a successful solo artist, recording several chart-topping hits such as “A Week in a Country Jail,” “Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine,” and “I Love.”
Hall’s songs were not just commercial successes; they were also recognized for their artistic value. In 1973, his album Tom T. Hall’s Greatest Hits won a Grammy Award for Best Album Notes.
35. Charley Pride
Our next singer, Charley Pride, was a trailblazing figure in country music as one of its first black superstars. His journey to stardom is an inspiring tale of determination and talent overcoming racial barriers.
Pride’s musical career truly took off in 1967 with his hit “Just Between You and Me,” which reached the top 10 on the country charts. This success was followed by a series of number-one hits, including “All I Have to Offer You (Is Me),” “Is Anybody Goin’ to San Antone,” and “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin’.”
Despite facing racism throughout his career, Pride maintained a positive attitude. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000, a testament to his significant contributions to the genre. Sadly, Pride passed away in 2020, from complications related to COVID-19.
36. Eddy Arnold
Hailing from Henderson, Tennessee, where he was born in 1918, Eddy Arnold would rise to become one of the most influential figures in country music. His career, spanning over an incredible seven decades, was marked by his warm baritone voice that became synonymous with the Nashville sound, a genre he played a pivotal role in popularizing.
Throughout his career, he released over 160 singles. His career-defining moment arrived in 1947 with the release of “I’ll Hold You in My Heart (Till I Can Hold You in My Arms),” a song that dominated the country charts at the time.
A slew of awards and accolades attest to Arnold’s significant contributions to the music industry, including an induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Though Arnold left us in 2008, his legacy lives on.
37. Randy Travis
Known for his smooth baritone voice, Randy Bruce Traywick — a.k.a. Randy Travis — played a pivotal role in revitalizing the genre during the 1980s and 1990s.
Travis didn’t have an easy start in his music career; however, after debuting with Storms of Life, he achieved his breakthrough. The album was a commercial success, establishing him as a leading figure in the neo-traditional country movement.
Since then, Travis has given us numerous hits like “On the Other Hand,” “Diggin’ Up Bones,” and the unforgettable “Forever and Ever, Amen.”
His significant contributions to the country music landscape have been recognized with numerous awards, including six Grammy Awards and six CMA Awards. In 2016, he was rightfully inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
38. Dwight Yoakam
Our next country icon hails from Pikeville, Kentucky. Dwight Yoakam developed a love for music at an early age. This love eventually led him to Nashville, but finding the pop-oriented country music scene of the 1980s uninviting to his more traditional style, Yoakam moved west to Los Angeles.
In Los Angeles, Yoakam found his niche. His brand of hillbilly music resonated with both country and rock audiences, leading to a successful debut album, Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. in 1986. The album’s blend of rockabilly, honky-tonk, and country garnered critical acclaim and established Yoakam as a unique voice in country music.
Throughout his career, Yoakam has maintained his commitment to a classic country sound, even as he experimented with bluegrass, Americana, and soul. His hits, such as “Guitars, Cadillacs,” “Streets of Bakersfield,” and “Fast As You,” have become staples of the genre.
39. Jerry Lee Lewis
A musical force of nature, Jerry Lee Lewis was a gifted pianist and vocalist. His career spanned multiple genres, but his influence was particularly felt in country music, where he found a new lease on life after his initial success in rock and roll.
After achieving massive success in rock and roll with hits like “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” and “Great Balls of Fire,” his career was marred by personal scandal. However, he found a way to rejuvenate his career in the late 1960s by returning to his roots in country music.
In 1968, Lewis debuted his hardcore honky-tonk sound with “Another Place, Another Time.” The record quickly climbed to #4 on Billboard‘s Country charts, marking a successful transition for the artist. Following this, Lewis continued to record several country albums, adding to his impressive discography.
40. Charlie Rich
Often referred to as the Silver Fox, Charlie Rich was an influential figure in the world of country music. Hailing from Colt, Arkansas, Rich’s career spanned several decades and saw him explore a variety of musical styles.
Though initially considered a rockabilly artist, Rich’s music was hard to categorize. It was this genre-blurring approach that caused his early career to progress slowly. However, it was also what eventually made him stand out. His first hit came in 1960 with “Lonely Weekends,” but it wasn’t until the 1970s that he gained widespread recognition.
Rich’s breakthrough came with the album Behind Closed Doors in 1973. The title track and the single “The Most Beautiful Girl” were massive hits. The album earned Rich numerous awards, including the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year in 1974.
41. Kitty Wells
Ellen Muriel Deason, known as Kitty Wells, was a pioneering figure in country music. During her time, she broke down barriers for female artists in the genre.
Wells began her career singing with her sisters and later performed with her future husband, Johnnie Wright, and his sister Louise under the name Johnny Wright and the Harmony Girls.
However, it wasn’t until 1952 that Wells achieved solo success with “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels.” The song, which was an answer to Hank Thompson’s “The Wild Side of Life,” criticized the way women were portrayed in country music. It became the first #1 Billboard country hit for a solo female artist.
In 1976, Wells was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and in 1991, she received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Sadly, Wells passed away in 2012.
42. Kenny Rogers
Texan singer-songwriter Kenny Rogers‘ early career in music began as part of different musical groups. However, when he embarked on a solo career in the mid-1970s, he truly became a household name.
His breakthrough came in 1977 with the single “Lucille,” which won him the Grammy for Best Male Country Vocal Performance. This was followed by numerous other hits, including “The Gambler,” “Coward of the County,” and “Lady,” which further cemented his place in country music history.
Rogers also frequently collaborated with other artists, most famously with Dolly Parton on the hit duet “Islands in the Stream.”
In 2015, he announced his retirement, ending his career with a farewell tour. Sadly, five years later, Rogers passed away from bladder cancer.
43. Hank Williams Jr.
Our next singer is Hank Williams Jr., the son of legendary country musician Hank Williams and the father of Hank Williams III, forming part of a multi-generational musical legacy.
Williams Jr. began his career following in his father’s footsteps, performing his songs and imitating his style. However, he eventually developed his own style, blending country with Southern rock and blues influences.
Throughout his career, Williams Jr. has had numerous hit singles, including “A Country Boy Can Survive,” “Dixie on My Mind,” and “All My Rowdy Friends Have Settled Down.” He has also received several awards, including multiple Entertainer of the Year awards from the Country Music Association. In 2020, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
44. Roger Miller
The world of country music was forever changed by the innovative and humor-filled stylings of Roger Miller. Known for his honky-tonk influenced tunes and distinctive wordplay, he carved a unique niche for himself within the genre.
Miller’s career began in the late 1950s; however, it wasn’t until 1964, with the release of “Dang Me” and “Chug-a-Lug,” that he achieved significant success as a solo artist. These were quickly followed by other hits such as “King of the Road,” “Engine Engine #9,” and “England Swings.”
In addition to his successful singing and songwriting career, Miller also made notable contributions to the world of theater. He composed the music and lyrics for the Tony Award-winning musical Big River, which is based on Mark Twain’s novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
45. Jerry Reed
“Guitar Man” singer-songwriter Jerry Reed was a versatile talent in the world of country music. His guitar virtuosity, distinctive vocals, and charismatic presence were widely known.
Reed’s musical journey began in the late 1950s. His breakout came in 1970 with the hit “Amos Moses,” which reached the top 10 on the country charts. This was followed by other memorable hits like “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot,” “She Got the Goldmine (I Got the Shaft),” and “The Bird.”
Throughout his career, Reed received several awards for his music, including a Grammy Award for Best Country Instrumental Performance for “Me and Jerry” (shared with Chet Atkins) in 1970 and another one for “Sneakin’ Around” (also with Atkins) in 1992.
Reed passed away in 2008. In 2017, fellow country singer Bobby Bare posthumously inducted Reed into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
46. Vince Gill
Next up is Vince Gill. This Oklahoma native is a celebrated figure in the world of country music, known for his smooth tenor voice, compelling songwriting, and masterful guitar playing.
Gill’s career in country music took off in the late 1970s as part of the country rock band Pure Prairie League. However, it was during his solo career, which began in the mid-1980s, that Gill truly became a country music superstar.
His breakthrough came with the album When I Call Your Name (1989). The title track became a huge hit and won Gill his first Grammy Award. This success was followed by other chart-topping hits like “I Still Believe in You,” “Go Rest High on That Mountain,” and “One More Last Chance.”
47. Tanya Tucker
At just the age of 13, Texas singer Tanya Tucker tasted fame, striking gold with her hit “Delta Dawn.” Since then, Tucker’s distinctive voice and storytelling prowess have brought numerous songs to life, landing her multiple hits on the country charts.
Tucker’s recent work includes the album Sweet Western Sound, which continues her tradition of delivering heartfelt, country-rooted music to her fans. Her enduring influence and contributions to the genre were recognized with her induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2023.
In addition to her music, Tucker has also left her mark in acting and producing, with credits in films like Tremors, Christine, and Palmer.
48. Connie Smith
With a voice that has been compared to the likes of Streisand and Ronstadt, country music legend Connie Smith stepped into the spotlight in 1963 after winning a talent contest that caught the attention of country star Bill Anderson.
Her debut single, “Once a Day,” catapulted her to fame a year later, securing a #1 spot on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart for eight weeks — a record-breaking feat for a female artist’s debut single.
Smith’s discography boasts over 40 albums, peppered with hits like “Then and Only Then,” “Ain’t Had No Lovin’,” and “Cincinnati, Ohio.” In recognition of her contributions to the genre, Smith was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2012.
49. Lefty Frizzell
Hailing from Corsicana, Texas, Lefty Frizzell was a man with a voice that echoed through the halls of country music, a titan in the realm of honky-tonk, and a pioneer of the Nashville sound.
Frizzel’s journey to fame began in the late 1940s. His first single, “If You’ve Got the Money I’ve Got the Time,” skyrocketed to the top of the country charts in 1950, marking the beginning of his illustrious career. “Always Late (With Your Kisses),” “Long Black Veil,” and “Mom and Dad’s Waltz” are just a few of his other well-known tracks.
Frizzell left an indelible mark on the genre. He was a significant influence on many artists, including Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, and George Jones. In 1982, his work was recognized with a posthumous induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
50. Ernest Tubb
Ending this list is Ernest Tubb, a name that resonates profoundly within the annals of country music. Known as the Texas Troubadour, Tubb’s influence on the genre is immeasurable.
Inspired by the legendary Jimmie Rodgers, Tubb went on his journey to stardom in the 1930s. A breakthrough came in 1941 when he recorded the song “Walking the Floor Over You,” which not only became his signature tune but also one of the first honky-tonk classics. Other celebrated tracks include “Thanks a Lot,” “Waltz Across Texas,” and “Letters Have No Arms.”
In 1965, Tubb was one of the first artists inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Even after his passing in 1984, his legacy continues to inspire and influence artists, ensuring his music lives on.
Summing up Our List of Famous Country Singers
From the singers above, we can see the evolution that country music has gone through. From the 1930s during Hank Williams’ heyday to the present time when Taylor Swift, Blake Shelton, and others fill the charts, we can see why the genre is popular with many.