12 Of The Most Famous Musicians From Idaho You Should Know

Written by Dan Farrant
Last updated

From classic American folk figures to contemporary record producers, Idaho has given rise to several famous musicians! Maybe it’s the mesmerizing peaks and rugged wilderness of the Gem State that have inspired these artists to reach great heights.

Idaho’s many theaters and music venues for young aspiring talents have not gone to waste. These opportunities have catapulted dozens of local musicians into legendary cultural figures!

In this post, we’re going to take a look at 12 of the greatest and most famous musicians from Idaho.

Related: Our list of famous American musicians.

1. Josh Ritter

Josh Ritter, son of two neuroscientists, began his journey on the same path as his parents, but his true passion lay elsewhere.

Born in Moscow, Idaho, Ritter discovered his love for American country music at a young age. He quickly dropped out of college once he realized that he wanted to become a musician playing guitar, piano, and singing.

In 1999, Ritter released his first self-titled album. The Golden Age of Radio soon followed and won recognition among critics.

Fast forward a few years and now he’s turned his hand to writing books publishing his first novel, Bright’s Passage, in 2011 and The Great Glorious Goddamn of It All in 2021.

2. Gary Peacock

Born in 1935 in Burley, Idaho, jazz double bassistGary Peacock lived out his life in the jazz scene. His musical inspiration first occurred when he attended the Jazz At The Philharmonic.

Drafted into the army, Peacock remained stationed in Germany. He switched from playing the piano to the bass, which he said felt right.

Nominated four times for a Grammy award with the Keith Jarrett Trio, Peacock played the double bass, with Jack DeJohnette on the drums and Keith Jarrett on the piano.

3. Curtis Stigers

The 90s hit singer-songwriter, Curtis Stigers, was born and raised in Boise, Idaho, and started his music career as a saxophone player playing in rock bands as a teenager.

But, after leaving his hometown of Boise he moved to New York and began singing in the jazz clubs. 

Stigers’ first album went multi-platinum. He received international acclaim for his 1991 single, I Wonder Why. The song reached no. 5 on the UK Singles Chart and no. 9 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

4. Eilen Jewell

American singer-songwriter Eilen Jewell was born in Boise, Idaho, and plays country, blues, gospel, and Americana music.

Jewell moved to New Mexico to attend college in Santa Fe but made her return to Boise after living in multiple states. 

She released six albums over the years, including two albums with her country-gospel band. On July 8, 2020, Jewell released her latest album, Green River, which features the single, Summertime.

Jewell often goes on the road with her band and plans to tour throughout 2022 and 2023.

5. Doug Martsch (Built to Spill)

As another American singer-musician from Boise, Idaho, Doug Martsch features as lead singer and guitarist of rock band Built to Spill.

Born in 1969, Martsch played in two other bands before Built to Spill.

Martsch made three albums with his second band Treepeople, including two EPs. However, he gained most of his recognition as a lead guitarist with Built to Spill.

Doug Martsch released a critically acclaimed solo album in 2002, called Now You Know.

6. Norma Zimmer

Born in 1923 in Shoshone County, Idaho, the American gospel singer and a television/radio personality, Norma Zimmer, made her first impression in a church choir in her hometown.

Zimmer sang in a variety of music groups. She performed with the Singers vocal group on the radio and appeared on various popular television shows during the 1950s.

In 1959, when the Lawrence Welk Show needed a Champagne Lady, Zimmer filled the spot and stayed on as the Champagne Lady for 22 years.

7. Branden Steineckert (Rancid)

From Pocatello, Idaho, Branden Steineckert plays the drums for Rancid, a punk-rock band.

Born in 1978, Steineckert first picked up drumming as an emotional outlet when he lost his father to suicide.

Branden Staineckert founded another rock band, The Used before joining his current band, Rancid in 2006.

He played the drums in Let The Dominoes Fall in 2009, his first recording with the band.

8. Ryan Stevenson

Originating from Boise, Idaho, singer and guitaristRyan Stevenson was born and brought up in Bonanza, Oregon.

Raised by religious parents, Stevenson first experienced live music at church. Growing up singing Christian hymns, he kindled his passion for music. In college, he and his roommate played music at local restaurants.

Stevenson terms his genre as Contemporary Christian music. He released his first album, Running To You, in 2007.

Stevenson recently published his latest album, Weathering The Storm, in 2021. 

9. Jake Sinclair

Born in 1985 in Boise, Idaho, American record producer, singer, and multi-instrumentalist Jake Sinclair began his music career in the band The Films.

Sinclair moved to Los Angeles to work for Butch Walker, who became his mentor.

Sinclair has worked with artists like Taylor Swift, Panic! At The Disco, Weezer, Fall Out Boy, Avril Lavigne, Train, and many more producing many hits over the years.

He continues to co-write and produce hits with new solo artists and bands. 

10. Shook Twins

The Shook Twins from Sandpoint, Idaho are Katelyn and Laurie Shook, identical twin sisters. Both the sisters play various instruments.

Born in 1984, Katelyn and Laurie Shook began their careers by releasing their first album in 2008: You Can Have The Rest.

As a popular folk music group, the Shook Twins received critical acclaim with their 2019 album, Some Good Lives.

The twin sisters often tour across the country in collaboration with various musicians.

11. Rosalie Sorrels

Born in 1933 in Boise, Idaho, American folk singer-songwriter Rosalie Sorrels played the guitar and dedicated several songs to her losses and grief.

After releasing her first album, Folksongs Of Idaho and Utah, she published more than 20 records over her career. Sorrels also performed at various music festivals across the country.

In 2001, she received the Boise Peace Quilt Award. On June 11, 2017, Sorrels died at her daughter’s home in Reno, Nevada.

12. Judy Lynn

As a native Boisean, American country singer Judy Lynn won the 1955 Miss Idaho Pageant.

The American beauty queen was born in 1936 and performed in the Grand Ole Opry as a teenager.

Lynn released several singles and EPs, including Footsteps of a Fool and My Secret. Her costume choices on stage won her substantial praise and love from her adoring fans.

Lynn remains one of the most dazzling American country singers of all time. Judy Lynn died in her home at the age of 74 in 2010.

Summing up Our List of the Greatest Musicians From Idaho

That about sums up our list of musicians from Idaho, we hope you learned about a few that you might not have known.

Have we missed someone? Let us know who you think we should add to this list!

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Dan Farrant, the founder of Hello Music Theory, has been teaching music for over 15 years, helping hundreds of thousands of students unlock the joy of music. He graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in 2012 and then launched Hello Music Theory in 2014. He plays the guitar, piano, bass guitar and double bass and loves teaching music theory.