These country stars prove ‘being country’ isn’t just where you were born – it’s who you are.
Country singers have a stereotype of being from the South. However, there are many successful artists who haven proven that you don’t have to be Southern to be welcomed and successful in the country music community. These artists below prove that country is a lifestyle, and it doesn’t matter where you hail from.
8. Gretchen Wilson
When you’re coined as “the redneck woman,” it’s probably a safe guess that you’re from the South, right? Wrong. Grammy Award-winning country star Gretchen Wilson is known for being a rugged country gal, but surprisingly does not have southern roots. Gretchen was born in Pocahontas, Illinois and raised in a trailer park by a single mother. She dropped out of school in ninth grade and tended bar (yes, you read that right) to support herself. It wasn’t until she was 23 that she finally made the move to Nashville. Even though she’s not from the South, Gretchen is the epitome of a Southern woman and the south is happy to have her where she belongs.
7. Taylor swift
Even though Taylor Swift wasn’t born in the South, she sure got there as soon as she could. Taylor was born in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania and was raised on an 11-acre Christmas tree farm. No wonder she’s so festive! She started making trips to Nashville at age 11 and finally decided to make the big move at the age of 14, after she was inspired by the Faith Hill episode of Behind the Music.
In an article with the Daily Mail, Taylor said, “My parents took all the pressure off by saying, ‘We’re just moving because we love the area, so don’t worry.’ They knew nothing about the industry and had no involvement in entertainment, but I was obsessed with it and so they did their research and read up about it to help me in every way they could. They’re amazing people.” Taylor called Nashville her home for over a decade but currently resides in New York City. This gal is a mover and shaker – who know’s where she’ll be next!
6. Dierks Bentley
The Riser singer, who despite his fame still drives his ’94 Chevy Silverado Extended cab, is a down-to-earth southern man. However, this Nashville transplant was actually born in Phoenix, Arizona. Dierks Bentley went to prep school in the Northeast, attended the University of Vermont and then transferred to Vanderbilt University where he graduated in 1997. He nabbed a record deal in 2003 with Capitol Records and the rest is history.
5. Jana Kramer
This One Tree Hill star turned county singer was born in Rochester, Michigan. After many years of acting in Los Angeles, she made the move to Nashville in 2012 to persue a career in country music. In one of her recent Instagram posts, Jana Kramer defended her hometown when Madonna (who attended her high school in Michigan) shed a negative light on the small town.
“I rarely say anything negative but I take a lot of pride in my home state. I grew up such a fan of Madonna and I always thought it was cool we went to the same high school. She said awful things about my high school and now reading US Weekly she says this. She has the right to her opinion obviously but I would like to just state…my best memories of childhood and my life thus far was growing up in Michigan. I am so proud of my state and here I will forever call my home in my heart.”
You tell her, Jana!
4. Jon Pardi
This Gold Country troubador hails all the way from the great state of California. But word to the wise, don’t make the mistake of calling Jon Pardi a “Cali boy” because this tall drink of water has been playing guitar in smoky bars, hunting, and riding in trucks down the backroads of Dixon, CA since he was a kid. Even though Dixon isn’t in the South, it doesn’t get much more country than that. Pardi, who’s known for his traditional country sound and style, currently resides in Nashville and is on tour opening up for the one-and-only Alan Jackson.
3. Frankie Ballard
The ‘Helluva Life’ singer who was born and raised in Battle Creek, Michigan, started singing Elvis songs with his dad at the ripe age of five. It wasn’t until he was 18–years-old however that Frankie Ballard picked up a guitar. In 2008, Frankie entered the “Next Big Star” competition presented by Kenny Chesney in Michigan and won the whole enchilada. His success in the singing competition led to a publishing deal with Sony/ATV and record deal with Reprise Records shortly after. Frankie made the big move to Nashville in 2009 and has been there ever since. He is currently signed to Warner Music Nashville.
2. Brett Eldredge
When you drive past the city limit signs in Paris, Ill., don’t blink, because you’ll miss the name of one of the top country up-and-comers in the biz. Does the name Brett Eldredge ring a bell? Signs that read “Home to Nashville Recording Artist Brett Eldredge” line the highway on the way into Paris. The young star even sings about his hometown in his hit song “Signs”.
“Welcome to Paris, home of the Tigers/State champs ’63/Gospel singing at the park next Thursday/Two for one at the Dairy Queen/Well, congratulations Bobby and Amber/God bless the newlyweds/There’s a graveside service in the morning/For our dear miss Mildred/The VFW’s got a bingo night/Motel 6 has got a burn out light/The demo derby at the county fair/It’s all right there in the signs.”
1. Gary Allan
Country singer Gary Allan was born as Gary Allan Herzberg in La Mirada, CA. He began his musical journey at the age of 13 when he began playing honky-tonks around town with his dad. At 15, he nabbed his first label deal but sadly declined because his parents wanted him to finish his education and spend time developing his own distinctive musical style. After graduating high school, he continued to play local bars with his band, the Honky Tonk Wranglers. Gary stayed true to his love for traditional country music and would refuse to play bigger clubs if it meant he couldn’t play the good ol’ stuff. Gary eventually landed in Nashville and is living life as the country man he was born to be.
So, if you weren’t born in the south, don’t fret. We’re waiting for ya with a warm welcome and a glass of sweet tea!