July 4th is National Country Music Day and in honor of the occasion, Wonderwall.com is counting down the top 60 living country stars from Reba McEntire and Blake Shelton to Carrie Underwood, George Strait and more. Keep reading to see where your favorites rank, starting with No. 60… Kane Brown is a modern country star. The tattooed and pierced singer-songwriter came to fame after first winning fans on social media with his covers. He then wasted no time breaking records with his own brand of pop-infused country music: In 2017, he became the first artist to have simultaneous No. 1s on all five main Billboard country charts (with tracks "Heaven" and "What Ifs" from his self-titled debut album). Then in 2018, Kane — who won favorite male country artist two years in a row at the 2018 and 2019 American Music Awards — crossed over to mainstream success when his second album, "Experiment," debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Now keep reading for more…
No. 59: Ronnie Milsap
Ronnie Milsap has done it all. The singer is one of the most influential performers of the 1970s and 1980s, releasing major hit singles like "It Was Almost Like a Song," "Smoky Mountain Rain," "(There's) No Gettin' Over Me," "I Wouldn't Have Missed It for the World," "Any Day Now" and "Stranger in My House." Ronnie has also won six Grammys and had 40 No. 1 country hits on the charts!
No. 58: Hank Williams Jr.
Hank Williams Jr. was born into country music and lived up to the expectations. Son of famed singer Hank Williams, Hank Jr. struggled to find his own sound but eventually achieved major success in the 1980s. In fact, the NFL came calling. From 1989 until October 2011 — and again since 2017 — his song "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight" was remixed as "All My Rowdy Friends Are Here on Monday Night" for use as the opening for broadcasts of "Monday Night Football."
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No. 57: John Anderson
John Anderson is a longtime country success. He's landed more than 40 singles on the Billboard country music charts including five No. 1s: "Wild and Blue," "Swingin'," "Black Sheep," "Straight Tequila Night" and "Money in the Bank." He's also recorded 22 studio albums during the course of his career and was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2014.
No. 56. Dan + Shay
Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney of Dan + Shay are rising talents in the country world. Not only have the guys collaborated with artists including Justin Bieber, Kelly Clarkson and Rascal Flatts, among others — the country pop duo also turned their first two Grammy nominations into two wins in both 2019 (for "Tequila") and 2020 (for the wedding reception staple "Speechless").
No. 55: Kelsea Ballerini
Kelsea Ballerini's climb in the country world has been methodical. In 2014, she released "Love Me Like You Mean It," which hit No. 1 on the Country Airplay chart and made everyone take notice. She's released several more No. 1 songs since then. In 2016, she became the first solo female country music artist to top both the Country Airplay and Hot Country Songs charts with her song "Peter Pan."
No. 54: Gretchen Wilson
Before Gretchen Wilson came around, the term "redneck" was considered incredibly derogatory. But the "Redneck Woman" singer changed all that! The 2004 hit celebrated the fact that she wasn't the "Barbie-doll type." Gretchen won a Grammy for the track — and changed the landscape for women in country music forever.
No. 53: Travis Tritt
You couldn't escape Travis Tritt during the '90s, when the long-haired country rocker put together hit album after hit album. In fact, seven of his albums are certified platinum or higher. A lot of today's biggest singers — regardless of genre — can't come close to achieving something like that.
No. 52: Brett Eldredge
Brett Eldredge has released four albums since 2013 and two of them went to No. 1 including 2017's "Brett Eldredge." His next album, "Sunday Drive," is due in 2020.
No. 51: Jake Owen
Jake Owen is part of country's new blood. The Florida native opened for some of the biggest names in the game, including Brad Paisley and Keith Urban, before embarking on his own headlining tour in 2012. His brand of beachy country has caught fire and he has ACM and American Country awards to prove it.
No. 50: Dustin Lynch
Dustin Lynch writes a song and it goes to No. 1. That's sort of how it works. He first broke into the scene in 2012 with "Cowboys and Angels." Then, from 2014 to 2017, he had a run of hit songs, notching five No. 1 singles in a row. Not bad for a "Small Town Boy."
No. 49: LeAnn Rimes
LeAnn Rimes scored her first big break at age 13… 13!! Her voice was infallible and she has all the awards to prove it, including two Grammys, multiple ACM awards, a CMA Award, and the list goes on… Unfortunately for country music's former golden girl, these days, her personal life overshadows many of her past accomplishments.
No. 48: Oak Ridge Boys
The Oak Ridge Boys have some of the best stamina in country music. The band gained popularity during the '50s as a gospel group but began focusing on country in the early '70s. To this day, they still tour. All the hard work and catchy songs — "Elvira," anyone? — has paid off too. The group joined the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2015.
No. 47: Charlie Daniels
Charlie Daniels wrote and sang "The Devil Went Down to Georgia." That alone earns him a spot on this list. He also co-wrote a song for Elvis Presley and played electric bass on three Bob Dylan albums. Charlie is simply a music god.
No. 46: Dwight Yoakam
Dwight Yoakam has been popular since the '80s. Hit singles, platinum albums and Grammys are old hat (cowboy hat, if you will) for this guy. And rumor has it that the late Johnny Cash once called Dwight his favorite singer. That's good enough for us.
No. 45: Trisha Yearwood
Trisha Yearwood sings some of the most incredible ballads you'll ever hear. She's snagged three Grammys and a few CMA and ACM awards and sold millions of albums worldwide. In 2013, she even picked up an Emmy for her cooking show "Trisha's Southern Kitchen." She has a slew of No. 1 hits and even more Top 10 hits. She's also married to some guy named Garth Brooks. Can you say power couple?!
No. 44: Vince Gill
Vince Gill is in the Country Music Hall of Fame. He should be too. After recording more than 20 albums, garnering a whopping 21 Grammys — plus a handful of CMA awards — it's easy to see why he's still one of the most respected names in music.
No. 43: Darius Rucker
Darius Rucker is not only a fantastic artist but also a history maker. The rocker-turned-country singer's first single, "Don't Think I Don't Think About It," made him the first black artist to reach No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs chart since 1983. Darius has since released numerous No. 1 singles and albums and in 2009 became the first black American to win the best new artist award from the Country Music Association.
No. 42: Rascal Flatts
The first decade of the 2000s were good to Rascal Flatts. Really good, actually. The band caught lightning in a bottle and, man, did they harness it. They've won enough awards in their career — including multiple CMA, ACM, CMT and People's Choice awards — to fill a small house. In early 2020, they announced plans to split — on good terms — after two decades together.
No. 41: The Judds
The Judds are a mother-daughter duo who were wildly successful during the '80s. Wynonna Judd and Naomi Judd stopped making music together in 1991 but reunited in 2010 for one final tour. There was a time when it seemed that almost every song they released charted: a whole slew of their songs hit No. 1. This has always felt like a duo that broke up too soon!
No. 40: Tanya Tucker
Tanya Tucker had her first hit, "Delta Dawn," when she was just 13 years old. (What were you doing at 13?!) Her success continued through the late '80s and '90s before her career eventually slowed. But she was so big at her peak that she actually performed during the halftime show of Super Bowl XXVII with a couple other folks on this list. She's since enjoyed a hard-won career comeback and in 2020 won her first two Grammys.
No. 39: Alan Jackson
Alan Jackson has nothing left to prove. The guy has done it all. He's had more than 30 No. 1 songs over the course of his more than 25-year career. Awards? Check. Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame? Check. Membership in the Grand Ole Opry? Check. Like we said, this guy has nothing left to prove.
No. 38: Little Big Town
Little Big Town's popularity has steadily risen since the group formed in 1998. They had a monster 2014 with the release of "Painkiller" and accompanying hit "Day Drinking." They've won a number of CMA and ACM awards, not to mention several Grammys and an American Music Award. Their eighth album, "The Breaker" — featuring award-winning hit "Better Man" — arrived in early 2017, and their ninth, "Nightfall," arrived in 2020.
No. 37: Zac Brown Band
Zac Brown Band is without a doubt one of the most talented acts in music. They can follow up one of their No. 1 songs ("Chicken Fried," for instance) with a country classic by Johnny Cash and then move on to a cover of a Rage Against the Machine or Metallica tune. Having collaborated with Dave Grohl, Jimmy Buffett, Jason Mraz, Kid Rock and more, they may actually be the coolest and most versatile band in country music.
No. 36: Kris Kristofferson
Kris Kristofferson is one of country's crown jewels — a living link to late greats Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings. He was a member of The Highwaymen, a country supergroup that included Waylon, Johnny and Willie Nelson, and, yeah, that's not bad if you're into that whole playing-with-legends thing. He's also won a Golden Globe for acting and wrote "Me and Bobby McGee," which has since been covered by countless acts — most notably Janis Joplin, who took it to No. 1.
No. 35: Clint Black
Clint Black (pictured with wife Lisa Hartman Black) is one of the few country singers — especially today — who actually writes his own material. His songs were a mainstay on the country charts during the '90s — plus, his name is Clint Black. It just sounds like a name destined for country music superstardom!
No. 34: Randy Travis
If you've never heard the name Randy Travis, you've probably lived under a rock for the past 30 years. The singer broke onto the scene during the mid-'80s and has released countless No. 1 hits since then. Unfortunately, problems in his personal life have overshadowed his career in recent years. He got divorced after nearly two decades of marriage in 2010 and was arrested twice in 2012 — once after he was found naked on the side of the road. Then he had a stroke in 2013 that reportedly left him unable to speak. Miraculously, during his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2016, Randy sang "Amazing Grace," proving that years of rehab had helped him get back his voice.
No. 33: Maren Morris
Don't be fooled by Maren Morris's diminutive size, because she's a powerhouse. She burst onto the scene in 2016 with her hit "My Church," which went platinum in the United States. She won her first Grammy in 2018 and then crossed over into pop music with "The Middle," her hit single with Zedd and Grey, which was even featured in a Target commercial.
No. 32: Brad Paisley
Good luck counting every ACM Award, CMA Award and Grammy that Brad Paisley has claimed over the years! In addition to being a constant prize winner, he's also a member of the Grand Ole Opry and is married to a bona fide Hollywood star, actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley.
No. 31: Emmylou Harris
During the course of her career, Emmylou Harris — who's perhaps best known for her hit singles "Trio" and "Blue Kentucky Girl" — has won 14 Grammys, delivered more than two dozen top 10 hits and been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. But even more significant is that she and her musical magic have influenced a majority of the female country singers who rose to prominence in the '80s and '90s, further strengthening her legacy for decades to comes.
No. 30: Shania Twain
Shania Twain is the bestselling female artist in the history of country music. The history! And she did it with just five studio albums. In a day and age where album sales aren't as big as they used to be, Shania may remain on that perch for a long, long time. She might even be there — forgive the pun — "Forever and Always."
No. 29: Toby Keith
Toby Keith toiled in obscurity in the country world during the early '90s without a record deal. After he finally got a contract, he went on to sing the most played country song of the decade, "Should've Been a Cowboy." How do you like him now? A LOT!
No. 28: Kacey Musgraves
Kacey Musgraves' career is still very much trending upward. But what she's accomplished so far is mesmerizing: She's won six Grammys — including album of the year for "Golden Hour" in 2019 — a couple CMA Awards (including album of the year in 2018) and in 2014, she took home the ACM Award for album of the year… then did it again in 2019! She's also a respected songwriter who crafts tracks not only for herself but for other artists including Miranda Lambert ("Mama's Broken Heart" was a Kacey co-write).
No. 27: Alabama
Brad Paisley once called Alabama the "coolest band around." Cool? Sure. Successful? Understatement. The band has countless No. 1 hits, multiple multiplatinum albums and a boatload of awards. They're one of the biggest selling acts of all time, regardless of musical genre. Not too shabby.
No. 26: Martina McBride
Martina McBride can flat out sing. Since breaking onto the scene during the early '90s, the brunette beauty has consistently charted. She has multiple CMA awards under her belt, won the ACM Award for top female vocalist three times and has been nominated for 14 Grammys. And she doesn't seem to age!
No. 25: Thomas Rhett
Thomas Rhett was born to be a country singer — his dad is singer Rhett Akins, after all! Thomas, though, didn't take the shortcut to stardom. Instead, he worked his way up. His professional career went into another orbit in 2017 when he won the ACM awards for song of the year and male vocalist of the year. That same year, his album "Life Changes" debuted at No. 1 on the country charts. His "Die a Happy Man" album also hit No. 1. Life may change for Thomas, but success sure doesn't!
No. 24: Lady A
Lady A — made up of Charles Kelley, Dave Haywood and Hillary Scott — just feels like a group that we'll always be hearing about. Their 2009 single "Need You Now" spent five weeks at No. 1 and was a massive crossover hit on mainstream radio.
No. 23: Florida Georgia Line
Florida Georgia Line's rise in country has been meteoric. Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley are one of the biggest acts going today. FGL's 2012 song "Cruise" was an insanely catchy hit that became the best selling digital country song of all time thanks to its presence on country and pop radio after rapper Nelly joined them for a remix (though Sam Hunt did later break their record).
No. 22: Loretta Lynn
Loretta Lynn is one of the most groundbreaking figures in country music. She's won basically every single musical award there is — heck, she was even given the Presidential Medal of Freedom for what President Barack Obama said was "courageously breaking barriers in an industry long dominated by men." Every female in the genre owes Loretta a huge debt of gratitude.
No. 21: Eric Church
Eric Church didn't hit it big immediately — he sort of meandered out of the gate with his first two albums. Then came "Chief," and the singer — who almost never steps out without his sunglasses — finally had his first No. 1 album. He's since racked up several hit songs and the awards to go along with them. And he just might be the most rock 'n' roll of anyone in country music today!
No. 20: The Chicks
The Chicks — FKA as The Dixie Chicks — were on top of the world during the late '90s and early '00s. ("Wide Open Spaces" had a constant presence in our car's six-disc changer.) But then came lead singer Natalie Maines' infamous comments critical of then-President George W. Bush during a concert. The statement ruffled a lot of feathers in the country community, but rather than shying away from the controversy, the Chicks doubled down by releasing the song "Not Ready to Make Nice," which addressed the scandal. They ended up taking home two Grammys for the track to go along with the others they'd previously earned. Their eighth studio album — and first in 14 years — comes out in the summer of 2020.
No. 19: Chris Stapleton
For those who are counting, Chris Stapleton has five Grammy Awards, seven ACM awards and 10 CMA awards. That should get your attention. He's far from done, too, so the "Tennessee Whiskey" singer should increase those totals every few years. Not only is Chris a singer, but he's also an incredibly accomplished songwriter — he's even crossed genres and co-written with Justin Timberlake.
No. 18: Dierks Bentley
Dierks Bentley is a mainstay on country radio. His 2014 album "Riser" showed his range and proved he can be just as sentimental (the emotional "I Hold On") as silly (think "Drunk on a Plane"). In 2016, Dierks released his eighth studio album, "Black," and made a splash with his song "Different for Girls," which featured singer Elle King. His ninth studio album, "The Mountain," arrived in 2018.
No. 17: Faith Hill
When it comes to Faith Hill, there's no need to go through the numbers: They're huge. She's sold millions of records, won multiple Grammys and is married to one of the hottest men in country music, Tim McGraw. Faith was one of the first country artists to have crossover success thanks to "This Kiss" and "Breathe," but she's still a "Mississippi Girl" despite all her success.
No. 16: Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton is more than just a legendary singer and songwriter. She's a brand. Dolly has the second most Grammy nominations of any female artist in history (after only Beyonce), and she's a respected actress too. She's an icon, plain and simple.
No. 15: Keith Urban
Keith Urban plays a mean guitar — and he can certainly sing a smash hit too. Everything this guy touches turns to gold… or platinum. Billboard named his song "Somebody Like You" the biggest hit of the '00s. But that's not all! Aside from his booming musical career, he also has a Hollywood wife in Nicole Kidman and had a huge TV presence as a judge on "American Idol."
No. 14: Taylor Swift
She might be considered a major pop star these days, but that doesn't mean we should forget that Taylor Swift's roots are in country music. The stylish singer has won several CMA and ACM awards — including entertainer of the year when she was just 21. With 10 Grammy wins under her belt and millions of albums sold worldwide, who knows what she'll do next!
No. 13: Willie Nelson
Willie Nelson is an octogenarian and he's still selling out shows. That alone should tell you all you need to know about this American icon. He's in the Country Music Hall of Fame and pretty much every one of today's popular artists (not just country stars) want to collaborate with him. He's won too many awards to even try to count, and he did it all with the same guitar he's been playing since 1969: an instrument he calls Trigger in honor of Roy Rogers' horse. Willie is one of a kind!
No. 12: Sam Hunt
Let's get it out of the way quickly: Yes, Sam Hunt is swoon-worthy. He's also an amazing talent and a huge star. So far in his relatively short career, he's snagged Grammy, CMA and ACM award nominations. His hit song "Body Like a Back Road" was a constant on the radio in 2017 — it was the No. 1 song on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart for 34 consecutive weeks, which is a record. The song had such crossover appeal that it hit No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 too, a rare feat for a country artist.
No. 11: Tim McGraw
Tim McGraw isn't just a force in country music. He's also a force on the big screen, with nearly a dozen movie credits (and counting!) to his name. Ever the trendsetter, Tim was also one of the first country artists to collaborate with a rapper when he recorded with Nelly in 2004. Up until then, those two genres just didn't mesh. But Tim is always willing to shake things up, and that's why we love him. He also happens to be incredibly easy on the eyes — if you're into that good-looking Southern gentleman thing.
No. 10: Carrie Underwood
Who would ever have thought that the cute blonde girl from "American Idol" would have such an impact on country music? Carrie Underwood has already been inducted into the Grand Ole Opry and has won basically every music award several times over. Rolling Stone called her the female vocalist of her generation in any genre. High praise, yes, but the magazine might not be wrong.
No. 9: Luke Bryan
Sitting at the top of the charts is becoming the status quo for Luke Bryan. In 2014, he logged six No. 1 songs from his "Crash My Party" album. Think about it: One album, six songs that hit the top. And he hasn't stopped since then. Luke will be around in country music for a long, long time. And now he's on TV too: Luke is one of three music star judges on the rebooted "American Idol."
No. 8: Jason Aldean
Jason Aldean doesn't just fill stadiums when he plays live — he fills football stadiums. As in, more than 70,000 people per show. In 2014, he was named the biggest selling digital country artist in history with more than 21.5 million certifications. We know that digital sales are a fairly new thing in the grand timeline of music, but still, the biggest… in history. Jason is really the male vocalist for the under-40 country generation.
No. 7: Brooks & Dunn
Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn had some success as solo acts, but together, they were magic. And lucky for us, they reunited in 2015 after a five-year hiatus. During the '90s and a good portion of the '00s, it was basically a given that Brooks & Dunn would win every award for a musical duo.
No. 6: Kenny Chesney
Country music has become the soundtrack of the summer, and a lot of that is thanks to Kenny Chesney. His brand of musical escapism has proved to be hugely successful with country fans, who come out in droves not only to see him live but also to buy his music. Anytime Kenny releases a song, you can pretty much earmark it for the Top 10. He's that automatic.
No. 5: Reba McEntire
Reba McEntire is so beloved (not just in the country world) that nowadays, she goes by only one name, à la Cher, Madonna, Beyonce and Adele. Reba is the only solo female artist in country music history to have No. 1 hits in four straight decades. Talk about endurance! Aside from selling millions of albums, Reba is also a businesswoman and an actress. Her eponymous TV show aired for six years and was syndicated in more than 30 countries. She's more than a singer — she's an entertainer.
No. 4: Blake Shelton
Blake Shelton holds the record for most consecutive No. 1 singles (17) in the Country Airplay chart's history. Pretty darn impressive, Shelton. Through his work on "The Voice," he's also become one of country music's most mainstream faces. On the show, the guy is comedy gold. In a recording studio, he's not just musical gold but musical platinum!
No. 3: Miranda Lambert
Miranda Lambert's star has shined even brighter with each passing year. Now it's at the oh-my-God-she's-on-fire level — the singer can seemingly do no wrong. Miranda is the first woman to win the CMA Award for album of the year twice. She's also snagged eight consecutive ACM awards for female vocalist of the year — a record. In other words, get used to hearing her name for the next several decades — because she is a powerhouse who can go from making us all grab for a tissue with "Over You" to making firearms and pyro sound pragmatic. Miranda, dear, keep doing what you're doing. We're not even close to being "over you."
No. 2: Garth Brooks
Garth Brooks. Ever heard of this guy? We won't bore you with all of the numbers, but one can't be overlooked: In 2016, he became the first artist to score seven diamond-certified albums (meaning they've gone platinum 10 times over). Garth was named artist of the decade for the 1990s and he's one of the biggest music stars in the world, regardless of genre.
No. 1: George Strait
He is nicknamed "The King," after all! George Strait, who's one of the bestselling artists of all time, has amassed more than 60 No. 1 songs and sold more than 100 million albums over the course of his illustrious career. Though he retired from touring in 2014, he still releases music and had a 2016 residency in Las Vegas. It's pretty easy to see why George is, was and always will be "The King."