List of country performers by era

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Below is a list of notable country performers alphabetically by period, with each listing followed by a description of the artists' work.

Early innovators[edit]

Performers of the Golden Age in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s[edit]

  • Bill Anderson, singer who is still a major songwriter of new hits
  • Liz Anderson, as famous for her songwriting as her singing; mother of Lynn Anderson
  • Lynn Anderson, a California blonde who became a major country star in the 70s; helped by regular exposure on national television, was one of the first female artists to achieve major crossover success. Has won CMA, ACM, AMA, & Grammy Awards. Named Billboard's "Artist of the Decade" (70-80).
  • Deborah Allen, a popular 80s country vocalist, songwriter. Best known for "Baby I Lied."
  • Eddy Arnold, the all-time hit leader by Joel Whitburn's point system
  • Moe Bandy, singer of the 70s/80s; paired with Joe Stampley on a series of recordings
  • The Browns, brother-sister trio
  • Glen Campbell, brought a whole new audience to Country Music with his TV show, co-starred with John Wayne in movie "True Grit," won many awards, top Country Music hitmaker and pop crossover icon. He popularized "The Nashville Sound."
  • Bobby Bare is an American outlaw country music singer and songwriter, best known for the songs "Marie Laveau", "Detroit City" and "500 Miles Away From Home" and is the father of Bobby Bare Jr., also a musician.
  • Joe Carson, singer started in late 1950s Rockabilly and crossed to country. Died early 1960s.
  • June Carter, singer and comedian; star of the Grand Ole Opry; she became the wife and duet partner of Johnny Cash.
  • Johnny Cash, one of the single most Influential and popular country singers of all time. Best known for hits like "Ring of Fire", "Folsom Prison Blues" and "Cocaine Blues". He died in 2003
  • Connie Cato, Capitol Records country artist recorded three albums in the 70s. Her hits included "Super Skirt," and the top 20 hit "Hurt." She stopped recording in the very early 80s with her final single "Roses for Sale."
  • Patsy Cline, immensely popular balladeer who died in 1963
  • David Allan Coe, Outlaw Country star of the 70s, wrote several outlaw themed songs, released several X-rated albums, which was unheard of in Country Music
  • Jessi Colter, Outlaw country singer and wife of Waylon Jennings, best known for "I'm Not Lisa"
  • John Conlee, had a string of hits from the late 70s to mid 80s, including his signature "Rose Colored Glasses."
  • Kin Vassy, singer-songwriter, who in addition to his solo recordings also recorded with other artists, most notably Kenny Rogers, Frank Zappa, and Elvis Presley. In 1980, he released two singles for the International Artists (IA) record label. He moved to Liberty Records label and released seven singles on it, including Earl Thomas Conley's "When You Were Blue and I Was Green", which reached number 21 on Hot Country Songs. Vassy continued to work with Kenny Rogers on various projects, such as his 1984 album What About Me. Vassy also composed the song "Kentucky Homemade Christmas" for Rogers, released on Christmas (Liberty Records, 1981).
  • Skeeter Davis, major female vocalist for decades
  • Mac Davis, country pop hitmaker in the 70s and 80s
  • Jimmy Dean, singer and TV personality, former owner of Jimmy Dean Sausage Company
  • John Denver, singer/songwriter of numerous hit songs throughout the 1970s including Annies song,Back Home Again, and Take Me Home, Country Roads. John Denver died in 1997.
  • Roy Drusky, smooth-singing Opry star for 40 years
  • Jimmy Martin, The King of bluegrass
  • Janie Fricke, known for her series of smooth Countrypolitan hits in the early 80s including "He's A Heartache" and "Don't Worry 'Bout Me Baby."
  • Lefty Frizzell, perhaps the greatest of the honky-tonkers
  • Crystal Gayle, sister of Loretta Lynn who became a Countrypolitan sensation in the 70s and 80s and had 18 No. 1's during this stretch. Best known for "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue."
  • Bobbie Gentry, one of the first female artists to write and produce her own material.
  • Don Gibson, wrote and recorded many standards
  • Merle Haggard, popularized the Bakersfield sound
  • Tom T. Hall, "The Storyteller", wrote most of his many hits
  • Emmylou Harris has maintained one of the most artistically rewarding careers in country music
  • Hawkshaw Hawkins, Honky-tonk performer from Huntington, WV best known for the songs "Lonesome 7-7203" and "Pan American." He died on March 5, 1963, in a plane crash alongside Patsy Cline and Cowboy Copas.
  • Johnny Horton a fantastic singer who met an untimely death that ended a wonderful career.
  • Jan Howard, pop-flavored female vocalist who sang pure country
  • Stonewall Jackson, honky-tonk icon
  • Sonny James, had a record 16 consecutive No. 1 hits
  • Wanda Jackson, honky-tonk female vocalist equally at home in rock and roll
  • Waylon Jennings, one of the leaders of the "outlaw" country sound
  • George Jones, widely considered "the greatest country singer", No. 1 in charted hits
  • Dick Curless, Singer/songwriter known mostly for his trucking songs.
  • Kris Kristofferson, songwriter and one of the leaders of the "outlaw" country sound
  • k.d. lang, Canadian country-pop singer-songwriter, known for her campy performances, androgynous look, and mezzo-soprano range, winning CCMA's Entertainer of the Year Award in 1987, 1988, 1989, and 1990, Best Album 1988 for Shadowland, and the American Grammy Awards for Best Country Vocal Collaboration 1989 for "Crying" (shared with Roy Orbison), and Best Female Country Music Performance 1990, for Absolute Torch and Twang.
  • Myrna Lorrie, the first Lady of Canadian Country Music.
  • Loretta Lynn, arguably country music's biggest star in the 1960s and early 1970s.
  • Barbara Mandrell, first artist to win Country Music Association Entertainer of the Year twice (1980, 1981). Known for highly polished live concerts. Had the last successful prime-time network variety show on NBC 1980–1982. Charted over 50 country hits from the early 1970s thru the late 1980s. Could sing, dance and play over 10+ instruments.
  • Roger Miller, songwriter and Grammy record-breaker
  • Ronnie Milsap, country's first blind superstar and arguably the most popular country star of the late 1970s and early 1980s; scored 40 No. 1 hits (35 of which reached the top spot on Billboard)
  • Melba Montgomery, duet vocalist in the 60s, who launched a solo career in the 70s
  • Anne Murray, Prominent Canadian country-pop vocalist best known for the songs "Snowbird," "Could I Have This Dance," "You Needed Me," and others in the 1970s-1980s.
  • Willie Nelson, songwriter and one of the leaders of the outlaw country sound
  • Mickey Newbury, singer/songwriter started the lyric revolution in Nashville with his 1969 album Looks Like Rain. He wrote over 500 songs and has over 1000 covers to date. He was a songwriter's songwriter.
  • Marie Osmond, Youngest female to date to have a No. 1 country hit, with "Paper Roses" in 1973, and also had a string of country hits in the mid-1980s such as;"Meet Me in Montana" (with Dan Seals), "There's No Stopping Your Heart", "Read My Lips", "You're Still New To Me" (with Paul Davis), and "I Only Wanted You".
  • Norma Jean, gifted "hard country" vocalist, known also as Pretty Miss Norma Jean
  • Buck Owens, Hottest artist of the '60s, pioneer innovator of the Bakersfield sound
  • Gram Parsons, Parsons joined [the Byrds] in early 1968 after leaving his pioneering International Submarine Band, the Byrds recorded the seminal country rock album, Sweetheart of the Rodeo[1]
  • Dolly Parton, one of the most successful female country artist in history. Country and pop music star, actress (most notably "9 to 5" and "Steel Magnolias"), songwriter. Best known for "I Will Always Love You," which she took to #1 on the country charts in 1974 and 1982; also covered by Whitney Houston for "The Bodyguard" soundtrack.
  • Ray Price, traditional country star of the '50s and '60s, who experienced pop success in the '70s and '80s
  • Charley Pride, the first black country music star in the 1970s and early 1980s. Best known for "Kiss An Angel Good Mornin'."
  • Jeanne Pruett, female vocalist of the 70s, best known for the song "Satin Sheets"
  • Bonnie Raitt, an American blues singer-songwriter and a renowned slide guitar player
  • Susan Raye, Buck Owens' protégée who became a solo star with moderate success
  • Jim Reeves, crossover artist, invented Nashville Sound with Chet Atkins
  • Charlie Rich, '50s rock star who enjoyed greatest success in '70s country
  • Marty Robbins, one of the most popular artists in country music history. Named artist of the decade (1960–1969) by the Academy of Country Music
  • Jeannie C. Riley, sexy girl in a miniskirt who socked it to the pop charts with "Harper Valley PTA."
  • Kenny Rogers, unique-voiced storyteller who also recorded love ballads and more rock material. He defined what was known as country crossover and became one of the biggest artists in country and any music genre.
  • Jeannie Seely, known as "Miss Country Soul"
  • Billy Joe Shaver, songwriter, wrote all but one song on Waylon Jennings' groundbreaking Honky Tonk Heroes album
  • Connie Smith, recorded "Once a Day, the longest stay at No. 1 for any female country artist
  • Margo Smith, known for her sexy come-on songs
  • Sammi Smith, best known for her "husky" voice and 1971 hit song "Help Me Make It Through the Night"
  • Sylvia, Countrypolitan sensation the early to mid-80s. Best known for pop-crossover hit "Nobody."
  • Billie Jo Spears, a hard-country vocalist with primarily international popularity
  • Ray Stevens, comedy crossover artist, Branson businessman
  • Mel Tillis, country music legend and father of country singer Pam Tillis.
  • Tanya Tucker, teen Country star whose career later spanned well beyond her teen years, from the mid-1970s to the late 1990s.
  • Conway Twitty, started in the 1950s as a rocker but started the country scene in the 1960s. A voice that scored 55 No. 1 hits (Had the most all time until 2006, when George Strait broke the record), released several songs in the 1970s and '80s that were controversial for the time, ("You've Never Been This Far Before", "I'd Love to Lay You Down", "Linda on My Mind")
  • Townes Van Zandt, songwriter, troubador
  • Porter Wagoner, pioneer on country television
  • Gene Watson, Texas country music cult legend, who gained national success after "Love in the Hot Afternoon"
  • Dottie West, one of country music's most influential and groundbreaking female artists
  • The Wilburn Brothers, popular male duet for decades
  • Don Williams, aka "The Gentle Giant" with many popular hits
  • Hank Williams Jr., Leader in the Outlaw country movement. Multi-instrumental talent, and song writing star. Won several awards. Son of Hank Williams Sr.
  • Tammy Wynette, three-time CMA top female vocalist
  • Faron Young, a country chart topper for three decades
  • Ferlin Husky, country music singer who was equally adept at the genres of traditional honky honk, ballads, spoken recitations, and rockabilly pop tunes
  • Hank Locklin, early honky-tonk singer-songwriter who had hits that charted from 1949 to 1971
  • Billy "Crash" Craddock, country rockabilly singer who first gained popularity in Australia in the 1950s with a string of rockabilly hits, including the Australian number one hits "Boom Boom Baby" and "One Last Kiss" and switched to country music, gaining popularity in the United States in the 1970s with a string of top ten country hits, several of which were number one hits. Craddock is known to his fans as "The King Of Country Rock Music" and "Mr. Country Rock" for his uptempo rock-influenced style of country music.
  • Stella Parton widely known for a series of country singers that charted during the mid-to-late 1970s. She is the younger sister of the country music entertainer Dolly Parton and the older sister of the singer Randy Parton and actress Rachel Dennison
  • Randy Parton was an American singer-songwriter, actor and businessman. He was the younger brother of Dolly Parton and Stella Parton and the older brother of actress Rachel Dennison. Parton was the first person to record the song "Roll On (Eighteen Wheeler)" in 1982. Two years later, Alabama recorded it, and became the group's 12th straight number 1 single. Also in 1984, Parton sang a song for the Rhinestone soundtrack, his sister Dolly starred in the film. He also played bass for his sister.
  • Johnny Rodriguez is an American country music singer. He is a Tejano and Texas country music singer, infusing his music with Latin sounds, and even singing verses of songs in Spanish. In the 1970s and 1980s, he was one of country music's most successful male artists, recording a string of hit songs, such as "You Always Come Back to Hurting Me," "Desperado," "Down on the Rio Grande" and "Foolin'." He has recorded six number 1 country hits in his career.

Country rock performers[edit]

Early 1980s country-music performers[edit]

Late-1980s country-music performers[edit]

Early-1990s country-music performers[edit]

Late-1990s country-music performers[edit]

2000–2009 country-music performers[edit]

Modern country-music performers, since 2010[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Encyclopedia of Country Music. p. 106.