The country genre is almost a century old, having its origins back in the 1920s. A distinctly American form of music, country and western takes its roots from American folk music and has some blues influence too, and the genre has evolved so much over the years, branching out into all kinds of sub-genres like bro-country, Nashville sound, outlaw country, and more. There have been some genuinely outstanding country music singers and performers over the years. The following five have truly made their mark on the genre.
A terrific singer and a wonderful human being too, Reba McEntire started off her music career as a high school student, singing with the school band and even performing on local radio shows with her family. Known as ‘The Queen of Country,’ she’s released a total of 29 studio albums and made 42 number one singles.
Reba is the only solo female country artist to ever earn number one hits in four subsequent decades. She’s been one of the most consistently brilliant country stars of all time and even enjoyed success on screen in her TV sitcom Reba and movies like Tremors. Is there anything she can’t do?
An undisputed legend in the country scene, Blake Shelton made a name for himself in 2001 with his first single, Austin. It went straight to number one on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and spent five whole weeks there.
His career still has a long way to go, and he’s already earned 24 number one hits, with songs like Doin’ What She Likes and God’s Country standing out as some of his very best. He’s also branched out into TV work, appearing as a judge on The Voice and Nashville Star, endearing himself to legions of viewers in the process.
From Blake Shelton, we move on to his ex-wife, Miranda Lambert. Third-place finisher on 2003’s Nashville Star, Miranda Lambert has since gone on to become a major player in the country music scene, with her debut album, Kerosene, producing some stellar tracks like Bring Me Down and Me and Charlie Talking.
Her subsequent albums, including Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Four the Record, and The Weight of These Wings have enjoyed incredible success. Plus, she’s won eight consecutive ACM awards, and she’s still only in her 30s. There’s no telling how far she can go.
There’s never been anyone quite like Garth Brooks. Able to fuse the country genre with elements of rock and pop, his unique sound has helped to earn him legendary status in the country world and even made him a popular performer with people who wouldn’t usually consider themselves to be very big country music fans.
He’s the best-selling solo album artist in the entire United States, selling close to 150 million units. That’s more than Elvis himself. Globally, he’s sold over 170 million records and is the only artist ever to release seven diamond albums. Garth Brooks is, quite simply, one of a kind.
There’s only one man who could possibly top this list. The King of Country himself, George Strait. One of the most significant singers and musicians of all time, Strait embodies the country look and lifestyle, always appearing with a cowboy hat on his head and a cool pair of blue jeans.
From his first single, Unwound, onwards, he never slowed down, producing one legendary album after another and amassing 60 number one hits in total. He’s sold over 100 million records and put on some of the finest live shows country fans ever had the good fortune to witness.