The great state of Georgia may be better known for its delicious peaches and its particular love for peanuts. People who like history will brag about it being Dr. King’s birthplace and its many historical sites. However, Georgia has more to it than meets the eye.
Did you know that some of the world’s most famous musicians hail from Georgia? From soul to country, these artists have achieved worldwide acclaim.
So, if you’re a fan of music and want to know more about the most famous musicians from Georgia then this is the blog post for you! Let’s jump in with one of the greats. Ray Charles.
Related: For more check out our list of American musicians here.
1. Ray Charles
Legendary singer and pianist Ray Charles was born in Albany, Georgia, in 1930. As you probably know, Charles is a blind, starting to lose his sight as a young child around the age of four or five due to glaucoma.
By the time he was seven years old, he had lost his vision, becoming legally blind
But, his blindness did not stop him from becoming one of the most influential musicians of all time mastering the piano and penning some of the largest hits of the 20th century.
Over his career, he had 86 chart hits with 11 getting to number 1 including “I’ve Got a Woman”, “Hit the Road Jack”, and “I Can’t Stop Loving You” with his blend of gospel, jazz, blues, and soul.
Ray Charles passed away in 2004 as a result of complications from liver failure. A biographical film was made about his life called “Ray” which starred Jamie Fox as Charles.
Related: Read about more blind musicians here.
2. Little Richard
Boogie Woogie pianist and singer Little Richard was born in Macon, Georgia, in 1932.
He was one of the pioneers of rock and roll music, and his songs were a mix of gospel, jazz, blues, and soul. He was known for his flamboyancy and often wore elaborate costumes, make-up, and a pompadour hairstyle.
His music defined the rock genre for his generation and is often referred to as “the architect of rock and roll“.
Some of his biggest hits include “Tutti Frutti,” “Lucille,” and “Good Golly Miss Molly.” Due to his being a “crossover” artist, Little Richard’s music defied cultural barriers and defined the rock genre for his generation.
3. Luke Bryan
Born in Leesburg, Georgia, in 1976, country singer Luke Bryan moved to Nashville and got his start as a songwriter. In fact, he’s written songs for country artists like Travis Tritt and Billy Currington!
In 2007, he released his first country album, launching his career as a star going on to be one of the most successful country artists of his time.
Since then, 27 of his songs have been the number one hits for country music and his fourth album debuted at number one on the Billboard country charts.
4. Ma Rainey
Next on the list, we have Mother of the Blues Ma Rainey who was born in 1886 in Columbus, Georgia.
She was one of the early pioneers of blues music with her songs that were a mix of gospel and blues, and her style was later became known as the “classic blues.”
As one of the first female blues singers to achieve success, Ma Rainey toured extensively throughout the United States making over 100 recordings.
Her powerful voice and passionate performances set her apart from other singers and acts.
She passed away in 1939 from a heart attack.
5. Otis Redding
Otis Redding was a soul singer born in Dawson, Georgia, in 1941. He got his start in music as a member of a gospel group, and he later started singing R&B and soul music.
His biggest hits include “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” and the hit “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” which was released after his tragic death in a plane crash.
It became the first-ever number 1 hit to be released after the artist’s death cementing his place in history as one of the greatest soul singers of all time.
6. André 3000 (Outkast)
Born in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1975, André Lauren Benjamin is better known by his stage name Andre 3000 and one of the most talented and versatile musicians in the industry
As a rapper, singer, songwriter, and producer, he pushes the boundaries of music genres by mixing hip-hop, funk, and soul.
Andre 3000 is best known for his work with the hip-hop group Outkast who had number one hits like “Ms. Jackson,” “The Way You Move,” and “Hey Ya!”.
He has also collaborated with countless artists, including Beyonce, Kanye West, and Kid Cudi and has sold well over 25 million records throughout his career.
7. Gladys Knight
Gladys Knight is a legendary R&B singer born in Atlanta in 1944. She got started in music as a singer for the group The Pips, later called Gladys and the Pips
She later branched into a solo career, including recording the theme song for the James Bond movie “License to Kill.”
Her hits include the classic “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” and “Midnight Train to Georgia” and she’s won 7 Grammy awards for her music.
She remains active in music to this day as well as acting in a number of films and TV productions.
8. Alan Jackson
Alan Jackson is a country singer, born in Newnan, Georgia, in 1958. He got his start in music as a songwriter, and he released his first album in 1990.
His music blends traditional honky-tonk with mainstream country-pop sounds, creating a “neotraditional country” music.
Owing to his massive acclaim and popularity, nine of Alan Jackson’s country albums have multi-platinum certification and he’s won two Grammy awards.
He’s sold over 75 million records ranking him pretty high in the list of best-selling artists of all time! Due to his achievements, the Georgia Music Hall of Fame inducted Jackson in 2001.
9. Michael Stipe (REM)
He got his start in music as the lead singer of the band R.E.M. and continues to be active with them over 30 years later.
R.E.M. popularized their college-rock sound in the late 1980s, since growing into more alternative and folk-rock sounds.
Over their thirty-one years together they sold over 90 million albums making them one of the best-selling bands of their time.
10. Cee Lo Green
Cee Lo Green is an American singer and songwriter who was born in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1974.
He attended military school in Gainseville, Georgia, with his interest in music starting at church.
CeeLo began his musical career as a member of the hip-hop group Goodie Mob who released two albums. But, he left the group for a solo career in 1999.
Despite some big collaborations and backing vocal gigs, it wasn’t until 2004 that he formed a duo with DJ Danger Mouse called Gnarls Barkley releasing their 2006 super-hit, “Crazy.”
He went on to win five Grammy Awards and is still writing and recording music to this day.
11. Mary Lou Williams
Mary Lou Williams was a jazz pianist and composer, born in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1910.
She got her start in music as a member of her church choir, and she later started playing jazz piano.
In the 1930s, she helped develop the Kansas City swing sound. She composed, performed, and recorded countless songs that cemented her status as one of the most popular jazz pianists of her time.
12. Quavo (Migos)
Born in 1991 in Athens, Georgia, Quavious Keyate Marshall better known as Quavo is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, and record producer.
He is best known as a member of the rap group Migos, along with rappers Takeoff and Offset.
The entire Migos group has roots in Georgia since the three members grew up right outside of Lawrenceville, Georgia.
The group helped sculpt the rap genre by popularizing the now-mainstream triplet rap flow.
As well as music, he’s also been acting having parts in shows like Atlanta and Narcos: Mexico among others.
13. Zac Brown
Zac Brown is a country singer, musician, and songwriter born in Columbus, Georgia, in 1978.
His band, The Zac Brown Band, is a famous country band that’s been active for more than a decade.
Zac Brown’s most prominent musical hits include “Chicken Fried,” “Jump Right In,” “Toes,” and “Knee Deep” and through his group has won 3 Grammy awards and achieved 8 country number 1 hits.
To keep his connections to Georgia, he recently bought a distillery in Lumpkin County, rebranding it as the Z. Brown distillery.
14. Kanye West
The next name on our list needs no introduction but, if you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade, Kanye West is a rapper, singer, songwriter, and record producer who was born in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1977.
He got his start in music as a member of the hip-hop group The Go-Getters. But, fast forward and he’s one of the most successful artists of all time with his most significant musical hits including “Gold Digger,” “Stronger,” “Hey Mama,” and “Touch the Sky.”
Over his career so far, he’s won 22 Grammy awards and sold over an astounding 160 million records.
Recently, he has expanded into the fashion industry, creating futuristic experimental shoe collections with Adidas.
He even ran for president in 2020 and has announced he’ll be running in 2024 too.
15. Jason Aldean
Jason Aldean is a country singer and songwriter who was born in Macon, Georgia, in 1977. His biggest musical hits include “Dirt Road Anthem” and “Big Green Tractor.”
He’s released 38 singles – 23 of which went to number 1, and 11 albums being nominated for four Grammy Awards.
As an avid Georgia Bulldog fan, he watches every game with pride.
16. Sam Hunt
Sam Hunt is a country singer and songwriter who was born in Cedartown, Georgia, in 1984.
He’s known as a trailblazer in the country scene for mixing R&B and pop sounds with his music.
Sam Hunt’s most significant musical hits include “Take Your Time,” “House Party,” “Break Up in a Small Town,” and “Leave the Night On.”
He has also written songs for greats such as Reba McEntire and Keith Urban.
17. Cindy Wilson (The B52’s)
Cindy Wilson is a singer and songwriter born in Athens, Georgia, in 1957. She got her start in music as a member of the band The B52’s
.The B52’s are one of the most popular new wave bands of all time, popularizing retro looks and sounds in the 1980s.
Some of their biggest musical hits include “Rock Lobster,” “Private Idaho,” “Love Shack,” and more.
18. Billy Currington
And last, but by no means least, we have Billy Currington who is a country singer and songwriter born in Savannah, Georgia, in 1975.
While he was still in high school, Billy aspired to work at the Opryland amusement park. Following his rejection after auditions, he persevered and became a part of the Nashville country scene.
He’s known for his vulnerable lyrics chronicling his traumatic childhood. Billy Currington’s hits include “People Are Crazy” and “Must Be Doin’ Somethin’ Right.”
Summing Up Our List Of Great Musicians From Georgia
Georgia is home to countless talented artists who have helped shape music’s history.
From Ray Charles to Kanye West, each Georgian musician has brought acclaim and representation to their chosen genre.
This list of 18 artists spanning over one hundred years of creativity and boundary-pushing is proof of Georgia’s proud musical heritage.
Georgia is a musically diverse and thriving state with award-winning, globally recognized artists in country music, blues, rock, hip-hop, and more.