Best artists in country
Where do the best country music artists get their start? Many began singing or learning how to play an instrument as children, devoting their attention early on to the popular music of the rural South. Others segued into country music from different passions and found their way to the genre, singing or playing ballads and dance tunes on fiddle, guitar, steel guitar, keyboard, or drums. With tonight's belated Country Music Awards honoring the current best performers in the industry, now is a perfect time to see who's made it big in the music genre—and how they did it.
Here, Stacker looks at the top 50 country artists using calculations based on weekly performance figures from Billboard's Hot Country Songs and Top Country Albums through 2019. Many artists who appear on the list were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Several of them even had multiple #1 hits in a row.
Read on to learn which singer’s band died in a plane crash, who used to be a semi-pro baseball player, and what stars earned their claim to fame from reality TV shows.
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#50. Blake Shelton
This artist has been a judge on the musical reality competition “The Voice” ever since it began. Shelton came onto the country music scene in 2001 with his song “Austin,” and he went on to become a seven-time Grammy nominee. Shelton also appears on Stacker's list of the top 100 country songs of all time.
#49. Luke Bryan
Bryan, born in Leesburg, Georgia, started playing guitar at 14 and became popular with early singles like “All My Friends Say” and “Someone Else Calling You Baby." His album “Kill the Lights” earned him six #1 singles on the Billboard Country Airplay chart.
#48. Jason Aldean
Aldean started singing when he was 14, then broke out with a self-titled album in 2005. He earned his first Academy of Country Music Entertainer of the Year award in 2016.
#47. Marty Robbins
Marty Robbins was a popular country music performer between the 1950s through 1980s. He died in 1982. He had 94 songs on Billboard’s country singles charts in his career. The song "Singing the Blues" held the #1 spot for 13 weeks in 1956.
#46. Vince Gill
In the early 1980s, Gill's first solo album, “Turn Me Loose,” earned him the Academy of Country Music's Top New Male Vocalist award. His tune “When I Call Your Name” also earned him a Grammy Award for best country song. Over the course of his career, he’s won more than a dozen Grammys.
#45. The Judds
Known as one of country music’s most successful duos, this mother-daughter team had 14 #1 singles between 1984 and 1989. The Judds have sold over 20 million albums and won five Grammys.
#44. Shania Twain
Twain’s nickname is “The Queen of Country Pop.” Twain’s second album (“The Woman In Me”) broke worldwide sales records when it came out in 1995. She’s won five Grammys.
#43. Brad Paisley
With over 11 million albums sold and three Grammys, Paisley has had his fair share of recognition. Last year, Paisley released his 11th studio album. It was his ninth studio album to debut at the top of Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart.
#42. Anne Murray
Murray began singing as far back as when she was 7 years old. She’s in her 70s now, with 50 million albums sold under her belt. She’s won four Grammys and led the way for Canadian divas, being from Nova Scotia.
#41. Tanya Tucker
The song “Delta Dawn” was Tucker’s first top 10 hit when she was a teenager. She went on to become a Grammy Award-nominated singer and create her own record label, where she released the album “Delta.”