Best Country Artists Of All Time

by

James Lambert

Updated

February 24, 2024

Updated

February 24, 2024

Updated

February 24, 2024

Deciding on the absolute best country artists is a near-impossible task, guaranteed to spark lively discussions and passionate disagreements. This genre, steeped in storytelling, soulful melodies, and twangy guitars, has produced a staggering number of iconic figures. While any list is inherently subjective, certain artists stand as undisputed giants whose voices and songs have shaped the very heart of country music and continue to influence new generations of stars that fill charts like our Top 30 Country Songs, which is being updated weekly.

This selection seeks to highlight the best country artists who possess a potent blend of the following:

Talent: Demonstrating extraordinary musicianship, songwriting genius, or vocals that linger in the soul.
Influence: Artists who left stylistic fingerprints on the genre, inspiring generations that followed.
Impact: Leaving an enduring legacy through timeless songs that still resonate on playlists like our Greatest Classic Country Songs of All Time.
Popularity: Achieving both critical acclaim and the adoration of fans worldwide.
Uniqueness: Possessing a signature sound or perspective that makes them instantly recognizable.

With those factors in mind, here is a selection of the top 30 best country artists of all time who have forever altered the musical landscape. Let’s dive in and explore the legends, the trailblazers, and perhaps most importantly, who is the best-selling female country artist of all time.

1. Johnny Cash

Iconic for his baritone voice, outlaw image, and socially conscious songs, the Man in Black is a true legend.

2. Hank Williams

His tragically brief career didn’t diminish his impact; Williams redefined honky-tonk and is a seminal influence on countless singers.

3. Patsy Cline

One of the most beloved country artists ever, her emotive voice made her an icon who crossed over into pop stardom.

4. Dolly Parton

A cherished singer, songwriter, and businesswoman, she’s a classic country star with universal appeal.

5. Merle Haggard

The “Poet of the Common Man” whose Bakersfield Sound and songs for the working class, made him a giant of the genre.

6. George Jones

Known as “Possum,” his emotive, heart-wrenching vocals are synonymous with country music.

7. Willie Nelson

Outlaw country hero with a laid-back style and unique phrasing that make his voice instantly recognizable.

8. Loretta Lynn

The “Coal Miner’s Daughter” is one of the most significant country artists for her fearless songs about the female experience.

9. The Carter Family

The first stars of country, they popularized traditional folk and gospel songs.

10. Garth Brooks

The best-selling male country artist of all time, this arena-rocking superstar is one of the most successful artists across all genres.

11. Waylon Jennings

His rebellious spirit made him a central figure in the outlaw country movement.

12. Tammy Wynette

This “First Lady of Country Music” delivered tear-jerker ballads like no other.

13. Bill Monroe

The “Father of Bluegrass,” his singing and mandolin are cornerstones of the genre.

14. George Strait

The “King of Country” effortlessly delivers classic, neotraditional sounds.

15. Conway Twitty

His rockabilly roots melded with smooth ballads, making him a chart-topper.

16. Buck Owens

Key to the Bakersfield Sound, his twangy guitar and stage presence were legendary.

17. Glen Campbell

A skilled guitarist and crossover star, his country-pop hits were massive successes.

18. Jimmie Rodgers

The “Singing Brakeman” fused blues with folk, and his yodeling helped shape early country.

19. Reba McEntire

Her powerful vocals and business savvy define modern country music success.

20. Ernest Tubb

The “Texas Troubadour” helped popularize honky-tonk and brought electricity to country music.

21. Lefty Frizzell

His smooth, intimate vocals greatly influenced later singers, and his songwriting is revered.

22. Vince Gill

A virtuoso singer, songwriter, and guitar player admired across musical genres.

23. Alan Jackson

Upholding traditional country sounds in the modern era, his songs are instantly recognizable.

24. Kris Kristofferson

A member of the outlaw movement, his intellectual songwriting elevates the form.

25. Eddy Arnold

The “Tennessee Plowboy” with his smooth crooning helped bridge country and pop sensibilities.

26. Flatt and Scruggs

Their banjo-driven bluegrass tunes became a soundtrack for rural America.

27. Hank Snow

The “Singing Ranger” carried a yodeling style and sentimental songs to worldwide fame.

28. Ray Price

His honky-tonk shuffles and innovative use of strings influenced many stars.

29. Shania Twain

The best-selling female country artist of all time, Shania Twain’s blend of country and pop broke records and expanded the genre’s reach.

30. Charley Pride

The first Black country superstar, he broke barriers and brought his rich voice to millions.


Tags

Alan Jackson, Dolly Parton, George Jones, Johnny Cash, merle haggard, Reba McEntire, Willie Nelson


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