18 Of The Greatest and Most Famous Country Singers Of All Time

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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 18 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

One of the most easily recognizable names these days in the entire history of music is Taylor Swift. Her career began in country music, but her musical style expanded to multiple genres over the years.

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

Our list begins with Garth Brooks, one of the world’s best-selling music artists. No wonder there, as he has sold more than 170 million records in a career that spans more than three decades.

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

Finally, we have Hank Williams on the list. 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.

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.

Country music is a collaborative affair with these prominent singers who helped expand and push this genre’s boundaries.

Our list contains a mix of traditional country and genre-blending songs, so there’s always something for everyone. Make sure to take some time to listen to these singers. You might be surprised by what you’ll discover.

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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.