Country music is one of America’s homegrown art forms, with roots stretching over a century. But in the 1920s, country music began to take shape as a commercial genre, thanks to trailblazers like the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers. Over the decades, iconic singers and songwriters have come along to add their flair and influence to the country.
Many talented vocalists have left their mark, from classic crooners like Hank Williams Sr. to pop-country crossover superstars like Taylor Swift. Today, country music remains one of the most popular genres, evolving while staying true to its roots.
The “Man in Black” is one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. Known for his deep baritone voice, his music blended country, rock, blues, and gospel. Major hits include “I Walk the Line,” “Ring of Fire,” and “Folsom Prison Blues.
With iconic songs like “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” and “Hey, Good Lookin’,” Hank Williams Sr. helped define the country music of the 1940s and 1950s. His tragic death at age 29 cemented his status as a legend.
Dubbed the “Queen of Country Music,” Dolly Parton has been making hit songs like “Jolene” and “9 to 5” for over 50 years. She’s won countless awards and has also crossed over into pop music.
One of the best-selling musicians of all time, Garth Brooks brought a rock influence to country. He helped popularize arena country in the 1990s with smash hits such as “Friends in Low Places” and “The Dance.”
With his trademark braids and bandanna, Willie Nelson is a true icon. He pioneered the “outlaw country” subgenre and recorded classics like “Whiskey River” and “On the Road Again.”
Called the “King of Country,” George Strait landed 60 #1 hits over his decades-long career. He kept traditional country alive with songs like “Amarillo by Morning” and “Check Yes or No.”
The winner of American Idol in 2005, Carrie Underwood has since become one of contemporary country’s biggest stars. She’s known for power ballads like “Before He Cheats” and “Blown Away.”
Although she later crossed over to pop, Taylor Swift first emerged as a country artist. She was the youngest person ever signed to Sony/ATV Music Publishing and remains one of the genre’s biggest acts.
Married to fellow star Faith Hill, Tim McGraw has notched 25 #1 country hits and sold over 80 million records worldwide. His signature songs include “Don’t Take the Girl” and “Live Like You Were Dying.”
With his raspy voice and storytelling skills, Kenny Rogers left an indelible mark on country music over a career that spanned six decades. His biggest hit was 1978’s “The Gambler.”
Though her recording career lasted just eight years before her tragic death, Patsy Cline remains one of the country’s most revered vocalists. Songs like “Crazy” and “Walkin’ After Midnight” showed off her talent.
Shania Twain broke records in the 1990s with her blend of country-pop and rock. She became the best-selling female country artist behind hits such as “Any Man of Mine” and “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!”
Known for his signature aviator sunglasses and rebellious attitude, Eric Church rose to fame in the late 2000s with hits like “Springsteen” and “Drink in My Hand.” Often labeled as an “outlaw” of modern country music, Church has cultivated a dedicated fanbase drawn to his rock-tinged sound and confessional, narrative-driven lyrics.