The 1990s were an influential and unique time for country music. Several relatively obscure artists from the ’80s became full-fledged superstars the decade after, helping bring the genre to a wider audience.
At the same time, the music itself expanded and changed, as neotraditional country reflected sounds from earlier eras while other songs blurred the lines between country and pop.
Here’s a look at 11 of the most famous male country singers of the ’90s, including their popular songs, signature styles, and notable accomplishments during this historical time for country music. Read on!
1. Garth Brooks
We can’t have a counter singer list without Garth Brooks. He isn’t just one of the most popular country singers of all time; he’s also one of the biggest superstars in any genre, with career success rivaling the Beatles, Michael Jackson, and Elvis.
Brooks released his debut album in 1989, making 1990s the decade where he shined the brightest. His self-titled debut has a traditional country sound, featuring several hits, including “The Dance,” which Brooks cites as his favorite song in his discography.
During the ’90s, he released nearly an album a year, gradually broadening his sound to include pop elements. His second album, No Fences, contains some of his most well-known hits, such as “The Thunder Rolls” and “Friends in Low Places.”
2. Alan Jackson
Arguably the second most successful male country star of the ’90s is Alan Jackson. He’s sold over 75 million records worldwide, won two Grammys, and is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, among many other accomplishments.
Jackson is a father of neotraditional country, a style that blends classic country with honky-tonk. Compared to other famous country artists of the era, including Garth Brooks, Jackson’s songs have a more traditional, less bombastic sound.
His debut album was released in 1989, but it took until 1990 to garner mainstream attention, with his second single, “Here in the Real World,” reaching #3 on the Hot Country charts. Other ’90s hits include “She’s Got Rhythm (And I Got the Blues)” and “Right on the Money.”
Jackson loved music from an early age, first listening to gospel music with his family before discovering country. A Georgia native, he’s married to his high school sweetheart.
3. Clint Black
As 1989 rolled into a new decade, Clint Black was unquestionably country music’s most popular singer. Of course, Garth Brooks soon claimed that title and then some, but that doesn’t mean Black faded into obscurity.
He rose steadily throughout the ’90s, propelled by the albums Put Yourself in My Shoes (1990), The Hard Way (1992), and One Emotion (1994). His neotraditional sound held a broad, pop appeal, bringing him many fans.
Black is well-known as a prolific and gifted songwriter. He wrote every song on his albums until 2007.
4. George Strait
Another artist known for neotraditional country, George Strait, has been a country music superstar for several decades.
In 1990, Strait, who had already been famous for about a decade, released his tenth studio album, Livin’ It Up, which topped the Country Albums chart. Two years later, he released the most successful studio album of his career: the soundtrack to the movie Pure Country, in which he also starred.
Strait holds the record for the most #1 hits in a single genre, no doubt contributing to his nickname, the King of Country.
5. Billy Ray Cyrus
While some people feel that “Achy Breaky Heart” isn’t a serious country song, one thing is certain: Billy Ray Cyrus is a legitimate country superstar.
The Kentucky native has several impressive records. His debut album, Some Gave All, was the first debut album to enter the Billboard Top County Charts at #1. The album also stayed at the top spot on the Billboard 200 for 17 weeks, a record only eclipsed by Clint Black.
Cyrus is more than a one-hit-wonder. He released five albums in the ’90s, including Trail of Tears, which didn’t sell well at the time but has since become a favorite among music critics.
6. Travis Tritt
Would Travis Tritt have become a country star if his high school girlfriend hadn’t broken up with him? After the breakup, Tritt wrote his first original song, which led to him joining a band and deciding to pursue a career in music.
After some moderate success in the late ’80s, Tritt dropped his debut album in 1990. Country Club was an instant hit, featuring songs such as “Help Me Hold On,” “I’m Gonna Be Somebody,” and “Drift Off To Dream.” After Country Club, Tritt went on to release another five albums during the decade, winning two Grammys along the way.
Tritt says his songs are all based on his life experiences. His music often has a gospel, soulful sound that helped him stand apart from the more poppy artists of the era.
7. Dwight Yoakam
Kentucky native Dwight Yoakam first rose to fame after his 1986 debut album, but he cemented his status as a country music legend in the ’90s, launching four albums in the decade. His most popular album during the decade was 1993’s The Time, with the Grammy-winning “Ain’t That Lonely Yet.”
Even if you’re not a country music fan, Yoakam likely looks familiar due to his many film roles, including Sling Blade and Panic Room.
While Yoakam excels at playing psychotic killers on the silver screen, in real life, he’s a caring family man with a partner of over a decade and a son born in 2020.
8. Vince Gill
Co-lead guitarist for the Eagles, Vince Gill first appeared on the country music scene in 1979 as a member of the Pure Prairie League, before moving on to other bands and eventually embarking on a solo career that gained traction in the late ’80s.
This Oklahoma native released a whopping eight albums in the ’90s, making it his most prolific and commercially successful era. He won at least one Country Music Association award during the ’90s, including Album of the Year and Song of the Year for the titular “I Still Believe in You.”
Gill is married to Christian music superstar Amy Grant, who he first met in 1993 when both were in troubled marriages. Eventually divorcing their respective spouses, they married in 2000.
9. John Michael Montgomery
This multi-platinum superstar was born with country music in his bones. John Michael Montgomery learned to play guitar from his father and played in a band with his brothers.
Montgomery released six albums in the ’90s and four more in the 2000s. His debut album, Life’s a Dance, featured the single “I Love the Way You Love Me,” which hit #1 on the Hot Country Songs chart and even crossed over to reach number 60 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Another famous JMM song is “Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident),” a lightning-fast tune about picking up a woman at an auction. Even his biggest fans have a hard time keeping up with the chorus!
10. Trace Adkins
Country audiences were introduced to Trace Adkins in 1996 when he released his first single, “There’s a Girl in Texas,” followed by his debut album, Dreamin’ Out Loud. He released two more albums during the ’90s, solidifying his superstar status.
Adkins is the type of country performer who lives the life he sings about. Among his many turmoils include a struggle with alcoholism, an accident that severed his finger, and injuries that occurred after his second wife shot him.
On the plus side, he’s been able to channel the troubles from his personal life into powerful country songs loved by millions.
11. Sammy Kershaw
When Sammy Kershaw was a teenager, he found moderate success playing country music in bars across his home state of Louisiana before breaking through and finding serious success throughout the ’90s.
He released eight albums in the 1990s, including two in 1994 alone. His most famous song—by far—is 1993’s “She Don’t Know She’s Beautiful,” which topped Canada Country Tracks as well as US Hot Country Singles. Other classic Kershaw tunes include “Cadillac Style” and “Queen of My Double-Wide Trailer.”
He released his fifth album, Labor of Love, in 1997. While not as commercially successful as his other work, it did change his life in one respect. He recorded a duet with country singer Lorrie Morgan, whom he later married in 2001.
Summing Up Our List Of Famous 1990s Male Country Singers
Whether you want to listen to familiar favorites or are interested in hearing artists from before you were born, you’ll find no shortage of amazing and talented male country singers who found success throughout the 1990s.
Based on the above list, each brought a unique style to country music, leaving impressions felt (and heard) even today!
But who did we miss off of our list? Let us know and we’ll add them in!