The future of music

50 Best Country Singers of All Time (Famous Country Artists)

December 7, 2023
best country singers

I’ve selected the best country singers of all time, artists who have truly shaped the heart and soul of country music with their timeless voices and storytelling.

This article celebrates the legends whose songs have become the soundtrack of generations.

Best country singers of all time

  • Jimmie Rodgers
  • Hank Williams
  • Merle Haggard
  • Johnny Cash
  • Loretta Lynn
  • George Strait
  • Patsy Cline
  • Willie Nelson
  • Roy Acuff
  • Garth Brooks

1. Jimmie Rodgers 

Let’s start with an absolute country legend.

Jimmie Rodgers is also known as the ‘Father of Country Music.’

He rose to popularity in the late 1920s and became a country star.

His distinctive yodeling style wasn’t common for country music of that era.

So it’s fair to say that his songs had a lot of influence on many future country artists.

2. Hank Williams

Hank Williams is widely regarded as one of the greatest country singers of all time.

He has been called the ‘King of Country Music’ in popular music.

Unfortunately, he passed away when he was only 29, and heavy drinking caught up with him.

But he left us with a substantial legacy – he recorded 55 singles during his lifetime.

He was also a member of the Grand Ole Opry, and he wrote numerous country hits including “Jambalaya”, “Move It On Over” and “Hey Good Lookin’”.

3. Merle Haggard 

Merle Haggard is arguably one of the most famous country singers.

And he was definitely one of the most intriguing country artists.

In short, he lived the things Jimmie Rodgers sang about.

He had a tough childhood, he went through all kinds of struggles, and he was incarcerated several times.

But he also created some legendary country tunes.

He was musically quite versatile, and some of his greatest hits include “Okie From Muskogee” and  “Mama Tried.” 

4. Johnny Cash

Needless to say, Johnny Cash is one of the best country artists of all time.

He is also one of the best-selling music artists of all time – he sold more than 90 million records worldwide.

‘The Man in Black’ rose to fame in the 1950s, and his music was mostly characterized by themes of sorrow and redemption.

He was also versatile as an artist, incorporating elements of folk, rockabilly, blues, and folk into his sound.

Johnny Cash passed away in 2003, but his music still lives on.

5. Loretta Lynn

‘The Coal Miner’s Daughter, Loretta Lynn, died at the age of 90 on October 4th, 2022.

The world lost a country legend and a symbol of rural resilience.

Lynn rose from an impoverished childhood to become a pioneering female country star.

Her career spanned six decades, and she recorded countless songs characterized by her powerful voice and gutsy lyrics.

She will always be remembered as one of the artists who broke down barriers for women in country music.

6. George Strait

George Strait is known as one of the most successful country artists in history.

He has sold more than 120 million records worldwide and released 60 number-one hits.

In the 1980s, he was a pioneering figure in the neotraditional country movement.

So it’s no wonder that he was proclaimed as the King of Country Music.

Strait is currently living in Texas, and although he retired from touring, he still performs from time to time.

7. Patsy Cline 

Since her death in 1963, Patsy Cline has been regarded as one of the most influential vocalists of the 20th century.

With her distinctive country hits, she was one of the first country stars to crossover to the pop music charts. 

Although she didn’t have a long career, she recorded several timeless country hits and two Billboard number-one hits.

She tragically passed away in a plane crash when she was 30. 

But her musical talent, energy, and legacy will never be forgotten.

8. Willie Nelson

Speaking of crossover artists, Willie Nelson is an absolute legend.

He is one of the most famous country singers and one of the leading figures of outlaw country in the 60s.

He was raised by his grandparents, and he wrote his first song when he was 7 and joined his first band at 10.

His music could be described as a blend of country, jazz, blues, folk, pop, and rock.

Besides being a country star, Nelson is also a major liberal activist. 

9. Roy Acuff

Another country legend known as the King of Country Music is Roy Acuff.

Roy Acuff started his career in the 1930s.

He became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1938, and he remained the show’s leading personality until his death.

He was also a talented fiddler, songwriter, and record executive.

He became the first living musician inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

10. Garth Brooks

When it comes to country celebrities, Garth Brooks definitely deserves attention.

He is known for integrating pop and rock into country music, and that earned him global fame.

Brooks retired from recording and performing from 2001 until 2005, but he started touring again.

It seems like his passion for music doesn’t run out.

After all, he is the only artist in music history to have released nine albums that achieved diamond status in the US.

So it’s fair to say he is one of the greatest living country singers.

11. Kitty Wells 

Kitty was a pioneering female country music singer.

Her country hit ‘It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels’ was very influential.

And it broke down barriers for women in country music.

Kitty also received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

She ranks as the sixth most successful female vocalist in the history of the Billboard country charts.

12. George Jones

George Jones is arguably one of the most memorable country musicians.

With over 160 singles on the country charts, Jones earned the nickname The Rolls Royce of Country Music.

He was born and raised in Texas, but he achieved international fame.

In fact, during the two decades of his life, he was often referred to as the greatest living country singer.

13. Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton was born the fourth of twelve children in a tiny home.

But she showed a talent for music at an early age.

She appeared on the Grand Ole Opry at age 13.

Over the course of her career, she garnered 11 Grammy Awards and 50 nominations.

She has sold more than 100 million records worldwide.

Besides being one of the most successful country singers, Parton is also a philanthropist, an actress, and a businesswoman.

14. Waylon Jennings

Waylon Jennings will always be remembered as one of the top country singers of all time.

He pioneered the Outlaw Movement in country music.

He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. 

Jennings started playing guitar at the age of 8, and he left high school at the age of 16 to focus on his music career.

His first band was called The Texas Longhorns, but he achieved success with a rockabilly band The Waylors.

15. Brenda Lee 

Brenda Lee is undeniably one of the greatest female living artists.

She is known for performing rockabilly, pop, and country music, and she is best known for her hit “I’m Sorry”. 

Besides her, no one had more top-ten hits in the 60s other than Elvis, The Beatles, and Ray Charles.

Plus, Brenda was the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll and Country Music Hall of Fame.

16. Tim McGraw

Tim McGraw is a popular American country singer, songwriter, music producer, and actor.

His breakthrough album “Not a Moment Too Soon” was the top country album of 1994.

He has released 15 more studio albums, 10 of which have reached number one on the Top Country Albums charts.

McGraw is married to a country star Faith Hill, and the two did one of the highest-grossing tours in country music history in 2006.

17. Wanda Jackson

Wanda Jackson was among the first women to have a career in rock and roll.

She earned the nickname The Queen of Rockabilly for a good reason.

She also made a huge impact on the 60s music scene with her country tunes.

And in the early 70s, she turned to gospel music.

All in all, Jackson is a versatile music star and an incredible vocalist.

18. Marty Robbins

Marty Robbins is a legendary country artist and Western singer.

In 1952, he recorded his first number-one country song “I’ll Go On Alone.”

And that was only the beginning – he recorded over 500 songs and won multiple awards.

His work inspired artists like Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley.

On top of that, he had a quite successful career as a NASCAR racing driver. 

19. Jean Shepard 

Jean Shepard was a talented honky tonk singer and a country superstar. 

She rose to fame with her 1953 hit “A Dear John Letter”.

She also joined the Grand Ole Opry, and her appearances led her to eventually become a household name.

Shepard is also known for the film ‘A Christmas Story’, which he narrated and co-scripted.

20. Shania Twain

Shania Twain is a Canadian-born country star with over 100 million records sold.

Her 1997 album “Come On Over” helped her become internationally famous.

And she turned out to be the Queen of Country Pop.

In fact, Billboard named Shania Twain as the leader of the ’90s country-pop crossover stars

And she remains the only woman in any genre to have three consecutive diamond albums – and that’s quite impressive.

21. Chris Stapleton

Chris Stapleton is an American guitarist producer and country star.

He is an important name in modern country music and a multiple Grammy Award winner.

Tennessee Whiskey” is one of his best-known songs, although he has credits for writing and co-writing over 170 songs.

He is still actively touring.

22. Buck Owens

When talking about country music legends, we can’t skip Buck Owens.

Owens grew up in North Texas and became an international country star.

He also pioneered what came to be called the Bakersfield sound, a subgenre of country music developed around Bakersfield, California in the 50’s.

23. Brad Paisley

Brad Paisley is arguably one of the most famous living country singers.

He earned a place in country music history as a talented and devoted singer, songwriter, and guitarist.

Paisley has sold over 11 million albums and has won three Grammy Awards. 

And he is still actively touring around the world.

24. Ray Price 

Noble Ray Price was a leading figure in honky-tonk as well as the string-swept modern sounds of Countrypolitan.

He was well-known for his wide-ranging baritone and innovative country songs.

Some of his greatest country hits include “Release Me”, “Crazy Arms”, and “Heartaches by the Number.”

He will always be remembered as one of the most influential country artists.

25. Taylor Swift

We don’t have to make a big introduction to Taylor Swift.

She is one of the most successful musicians in the world.

The pop star appeared in the country scene with her self-titled debut album in 2006.

The album contains pop-country hits like “You Belong With Me” and “Love Song”.

Although she turned to a different sound, later on, Taylor is widely regarded as a famous pop-country singer. 

26. Carrie Underwood

Carrie Underwood is another pop-country icon.

She rose to fame after winning the fourth season of American Idol in 2005.

And she became the only solo country artist in the 2000s to have a number-one song on the Hot 100. 

Carrie continued to make chart-topping hits, and Time even listed her as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2014.

Besides music, she also ventured into fashion and writing. 

27. Reba McEntire 

Reba McEntire is a famous country singer and an American TV star.

The singer also owns several businesses, including a clothing line.

Nevertheless, she remains best known for her contribution to modern country music.

has placed over 100 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs Chart since the 70s.

And she is still performing.

28. Alison Krauss

Alison Krauss is a well-known bluegrass country singer.

She has garnered 27 Grammy awards, which is really impressive.

Krauss entered the music industry when she was just a girl – she was competing in contests first and started recording by the age of 14.

Her music has also appeared on numerous soundtracks, including the ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’ soundtrack, and the ‘Cold Mountain’ soundtrack.

She also made a collaborative studio album with Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin), and they announced a new album coming out in autumn 2022.

29. Tanya Tucker

Tanya Tucker is another country star who started performing at an early age.

She had her first hit called “Delta Dawn” in 1972 when was only 13.

And her career continued to thrive in the 80s and the 90s.

She released several successful albums and won the Grammy Award for Best Country Album in 2019.

30. Emmylou Harris

Emmylou Harris is one of the most authentic as well as successful country musicians.

She has released dozens of albums and won 14 Grammys.

Harris is known for her solo work as well as collaborations with artists such as Neil Young and Linda Ronstadt.

She became a member of the Grand Ole Opry and made it to the Country Hall Of Fame.

All things considered, she is undeniably one of the top country artists of all time.

31. Conway Twitty

Harold Lloyd Jenkins, better known as Conway Twitty, was a famous country singer and songwriter.

He is also a popular name in R&B, pop, and rock and roll genres. 

After all, he was inducted into both the Country Music and Rockabilly Halls of Fame.

His most notable pieces of work include duets with Loretta Lynn and numerous studio albums.

32. Kenny Chesney

Kenny Chesney was born in Tennessee, but he is of Irish and English descent.

After he graduated high school, he received his first guitar for Christmas, and the rest is history.

With over 30 million albums sold worldwide, Chesney is one of the most successful country singers in the world.

And he is still making music and touring.

33. Glen Campbell

Glen Campbell was a country singer, songwriter, guitarist, and TV host.

He was born in Arkansas, but he started his career in L.A. as a studio musician.

After becoming a solo artist, Campbell started releasing chart-topping country hits.

Besides “Rhinestone Cowboy”, his most popular songs include “Universal Soldier”, “Southern Nights”, and “Galveston.” 

He was a fantastic vocalist and a truly versatile artist.

34. Tammy Wynette 

In short, Tammy Wynette is a country icon.

She was also an actress and an author.

But she is best known for her smashing country hits, both solo and with George Jones.

Tammy was also proclaimed “First Lady of Country Music”, and she was one of the female artists who wanted to make a change in a male-dominated country music field.

It’s easy to conclude that her mission was successful – she is regarded as one of the most influential country artists in history.

35. Keith Urban

Keith Urban is an Australian-American artist best known for his country music and, well, his marriage with Nicole Kidman.

He won multiple awards including four Grammy awards.

Keith’s songs are guitar-driven country songs with elements of pop and rock.

He stated that his guitar playing was influenced by Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits) and Lindsey Buckingham (Fleetwood Mac).

All in all, his talent, charisma, and hard work allowed him to become one of the most popular country singers. 

36. Eddy Arnold 

If you’re a fan of old country music, you probably love Eddy Arnold.

He was a Nashville sound innovator of the late 1950s.

And he performed for six decades.

Arnold is regarded as a crossover artist, and he was also a pioneering country television performer.

One thing is for sure – Eddy Arnold broke the barriers of what was considered to be a country singer.

37. Blake Shelton

Besides being a popular coach on ‘The Voice’, Blake Shelton is also considered one of the most popular country artists.

He started out as a songwriter who sold songs to music publishing houses.

But after he signed a contract with Giant Records, he started releasing chart-topping country songs.

His most popular songs include “Home”, “God’s Country”, and “Austin.”

38. Alan Jackson 

As a beloved country singer, Alan Jackson spent 30 years in the spotlight.

His music could be described as a blend of honky-tonk and mainstream country.

Jackson was recently named CMT Artist of a Lifetime.

Even more than 30 years after his first number-one hit, he is still performing. 

Many would agree that he is the best country singer of all time.

39. Kris Kristofferson

Kris Kristofferson is probably known to many because of “Me and Bobby McGee“.

He originally wrote the song, and Janis Joplin changed a few things and made it a timeless hit.

But a retired singer has a substantial musical legacy. 

He was even inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. 

He is also known for his roles in multiple movies.

40. Flatt & Scruggs

Earl Scruggs is widely famous for his legendary three-finger banjo-picking style.

But he also made a huge impact on the music scene with the singer Lester Flatt.

They formed a bluegrass duo, and they recorded and performed together until 1969.

They also had a backing band, The Mountain Boys.

Without a doubt, Flatt and Scruggs will always be remembered as country legends and representatives of the bluegrass genre.

41. Randy Travis 

Randy Travis is a popular American country and gospel music singer.

He is a seven-time Grammy winner, and he recorded multiple smashing hits.

His studio album “Storm of Life” established him as a leading figure in the neotraditional country movement.

Randy Travis’ distinctive baritone voice and memorable hits will certainly stay an important part of music history.

42. Luke Combs 

Most of the artists on this list have a lasting impact on the genre.

But we also want to mention promising stars of contemporary country music.

For example, Luke Combs certainly won’t be forgotten so easily.

He released a very successful debut in 2017, and he has four Grammy nominations so far.

In 2021, The Country Music Association gave him the Entertainer of the Year Award. 

43. Luke Bryan 

This is another ‘Luke’ that has a lot of influence on today’s country music scene.

In fact, he is one of the most successful and awarded country artists of the past two decades.

Since 2018, Bryan has been a judge on American Idol, and that made him even more popular.

His best-known songs include “Country On”, “Play It Again”, and “Knockin’ Boots.”

44. Charley Pride 

Charley Pride was a prominent country singer and a professional baseball player.

He was country music’s first black superstar, and he was a huge inspiration for many country artists.

The peak of his musical career happened in the mid-1970s when he became the best-selling performer for RCA Records since Elvis Presley.

He also became a member of the Grand Ole Opry and won multiple awards during his lifetime.

45. Miranda Lambert 

Miranda Lambert is one of the most popular female country singers and a true creative force.

She began her career in the early 2000s and released her debut album independently.

In 2003, she became known to people after competing on the television program Nashville Star.

And she has been a successful country star ever since.

46. Lefty Frizzell 

As a popular honky-tonk singer and songwriter, William Orville “Lefty” Frizzell had a lot of influence on country music. 

He was called “Sonny” as a child, but later took the name “Lefty.”

His singing style inspired many artists including Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson.

After all, Frizzell set the style of singing “the country way.”

47. John Prine 

John Prine was a truly unique singer.

He combined different genres and styles, but he is mostly categorized as a country-folk musician.

Prine also incorporated elements of protest and social commentary into his songs, while maintaining a humorous style.

That certainly made him stand out from the crowd.

He was also a member of Chicago’s folk revival.

48. Gram Parsons

Ingram Cecil Connor III, known professionally as Gram Parsons, was a prominent country singer, songwriter, and pianist.

He died in 1973 at the age of 26, but he managed to record many successful songs during his lifetime.

The AllMusic website described his short career as ‘enormously influential’ for country and rock.

And he remains popular among country musicians for popularizing what he called “Cosmic American Music”, a blend of rhythm and blues, folk, soul, and rock.

49. Charlie Rich 

Charlie Rich was a big country star in the 70s.

He was known for jumping from genre to genre, and his music is still difficult to categorize.

But his most impactful songs are popular country hits. 

In his later years, Rich also acquired the nickname the Silver Fox.

50. Vince Gill

Vince Gill is one of the most famous living country singers.

He spent five years with classic rock legends, The Eagles.

But he is best known for his solo albums and chart-topping country tracks.

So far, Gill has earned 22 Grammy Awards – more than any other male country music artist.

That being said, he has a well-deserved spot on the list of the best country singers of all time.

Wrapping Up Our List of the Best Country Singers

In today’s article, we left out many great country singers.

But all of the artists we’ve mentioned are widely regarded as the greatest country singers of all time.

From architects of the genre to modern country stars, this list has a little bit of everything.

And that’s why we hope you found something to your liking as well! 

Similar Playlists:

Best Country Love Songs

Best 80s Country Songs

Best 90s Country Songs

Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

view profile

Songs about helping others
Previous Story

50 Songs About Helping Others (Supportive & Caring Songs)

70s rock bands
Next Story

75 Best Rock Bands of the ’70s

Latest from Entertainment & Playlists