Music

The Most Famous Country Artist From Every State

Getty Images, photo illustration: Wide Open Country

Country music has a reputation for being a Southern thing, but in reality, country stars come from all over the United States, as well as Canada (Shania Twain, anyone?) and even Australia (hey there, Keith Urban). Check out this list of the most famous country artist in every state, and maybe you’ll find some new artists to listen to.

Alabama – Hank Williams

Grand Ole Opry ghosts
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Hank Williams has legendary status for good reason. Though he passed away in 1953 at the age of 29, he is regarded as one of the most influential songwriters and performers in country music history. He was posthumously inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Honorable mentions: Jamey Johnson, Emmylou Harris, Jason Isbell, Tammy Wynette, and Alabama (the band)

Alaska – Jewel

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Jewel Kilcher was born in Utah, but raised in Alaska by her grandfather. The singer first came to prominence as a folk singer, but eventually switched over to country music.

Arizona – Marty Robbins

Marty Robbins
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Country music legend Marty Robbins was born in Glendale, Ariz. A race car driver as well as a singer, Robbins had 17 No. 1 singles over the course of his career, including his famous song, “El Paso.”

Honorable Mention: Dierks Bentley

Arkansas – Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash
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Known as “The Man in Black,” Johnny Cash was honored with multiple CMAs and Grammys in his nearly 50-year-long career. Cash has been inducted into five different musical halls of fame including the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.

Honorable Mention: Glen Campbell, Justin Moore, Joe Nichols, Tracy Lawrence

California – Merle Haggard

Merle Haggard outlaw country star
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One of his notable hits was “Okie From Muskogee,” but Merle Haggard wasn’t an Okie at all. He was born in Oildale, Calif. Haggard was a pillar of country music, and has been inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame.

Honorable mentions: Cam, Jon Pardi, Brett Young, Buck Owens.

Colorado – Townes Van Zandt

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Townes Van Zandt was born in Texas but he lived in Colorado and even attended the University of Colorado at Boulder. Van Zandt even referred to Colorado in several of his hit songs including “Colorado Girl” and “My Proud Mountains”. Van Zandt wrote hits for other country music legends such as Willie Nelson and Emmylou Harris, and was even admired by Bob Dylan.

Connecticut – The Carpenters

 

So you probably don’t think of the Carpenters when you think of country music, but believe it or not, they did record some country songs. Above is a video of Karen Carpenter singing Hank Williams’ “Jambalaya.” She also did a duet with John Denver.

Delaware –  David Bromberg

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John Bromberg is one of Delaware’s favorite sons. A prolific talent, Bromberg played with the likes of Jerry Jeff Walker, Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan. He even wrote a song with former Beatle George Harrison.

Florida – Mel Tillis

Mel Tillis
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A stutter couldn’t stop Mel Tillis from achieving immortality in the world of country music. The singer rose to stardom with his hit single “These Lonely Hands of Mine” in 1969. He went on to have quite a few more No. 1 hits after that.

Honorable mentions: John Anderson, Mindy McCready, Jake Owen, Brian Kelley, and Chase Rice

Georgia – Alan Jackson

Alan Jackson
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Alan Jackson pulled in hit after hit in the 1990s, and continued his stream of success into the 2000s, earning himself a spot at the Grand Ole Opry as well as the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Honorable mentions: Allman Brothers, Norman Blake, Jerry Reed, Tricia Yearwood, Rhett Akins, Thomas Rhett, Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean

Hawaii – Willie Nelson

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We know, we know — Willie isn’t from Hawaii. He does own a home in Maui though, as well as a bar, and he is accepted and loved by the locals. The Hawaii bar Willie owns is called Charlies, in Paia. Word is that he plays there unannounced from time to time.

Idaho – The Braun Brothers

The Braun Brothers

The Braun brothers were raised in Idaho singing together with their father as Muzzie Braun and the Boys. Later, Willy and Cody formed the band Reckless Kelly along with Casey Pollock, Chris Schelske, and Jay Nazz. Younger brothers Micky and Gary formed Micky & the Motor Cars, an Austin-based Texas country band.

Illinois – Alison Krauss

Alison Krauss
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Illinois has produced some great country musicians. Country and bluegrass fiddler Alison Krauss has won 27 Grammy Awards in the course of her career. She first came to nationwide prominence in the early 1990s with hits like her cover of Keith Whitley’s “When You Say Nothing at All.”

Honorable mentions: Brett Eldredge, Gretchen Willson, and David Lee Murphy

Indiana – Karen Fairchild (Little Big Town)

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Karen Fairchild of Little Big Town is most definitely the best country act ever to come out of Indiana. Little Big Town has had major success, winning two Grammys and multiple CMA and ACM awards.

Honorable mentions: Joey Feek, Steve Wariner and Janie Fricke

Iowa – C.W. McCall

C.W. McCall

Known for his 1975 hit “Convoy”, C.W. McCall made a name for himself with his truck-driving songs that sometimes were so humorous that they edged into the category of satire. McCall was a musician and an activist, writing songs about environmentalism, like “There Won’t be No Country Music (There Won’t be No Rock-n-Roll)”.

Kansas – Martina McBride

Martina McBride
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Martina McBride has been called “The Celine Dion of Country Music” for her impressive soprano voice. McBride has won multiple CMA and ACM awards over the course of her storied career, and it all started in Kansas.

Honorable mentions: Joe Don Rooney of Rascal Flatts, Jerrod Niemann, Rory Feek, Sarah Buxton, James Wesley, Logan Mize and Joe Walsh of the Eagles.

Kentucky – Loretta Lynn

Loretta Lynn
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The undisputed queen of country music, Loretta Lynn, was born in Kentucky. The gorgeous brunette shattered glass ceilings with songs like “The Pill” and her famous duet with Conway Twitty, “You’re the Reason Our Kids Are Ugly.”

Honorable mentions: Troy Gentry, Crystal Gayle, Dwight Yoakum, the Judd sisters, Don Everly, Patty Loveless, and Sturgill Simpson.

Louisiana – Tim McGraw

Tim McGraw
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Born in Start, La., country music superstar Tim McGraw thought he might grow up to be a baseball player. He even went to college on a baseball scholarship. The future held a different career for Tim, and he went on to become one of the most successful modern country musicians of his day.

Honorable mentions: Hank Williams Jr., Hunter Hayes, Trace Adkins, Sammy Kershaw, Kix Brooks, and Chris Cagle.

Maine – Patty Griffin

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Americana singer/songwriter Patty Griffin brings honor to her home state of Maine with her musical success. Griffin is a talented musician who plays both the piano and the guitar, and her songs have been covered by the Dixie Chicks, Emmylou Harris and Dave Hause, just to name a few.

Maryland – Brothers Osborne

2017 Austin City Limits Music Festival CMA Fest
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T.J. and John Osborne are from Deale, Md., and they’re so well known in Maryland that they’ve even been immortalized (at least for this growing season) in the form of a corn maze. Their song “Stay a Little Longer” peaked at No. 2 on the country charts in 2016.

Massachusetts – Jo Dee Messina

Jo Dee Messina
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Jo Dee Messina is definitely the most country thing to ever come out of the historical New England state of Massachusetts. The “Heads Carolina, Tails California” singer’s career took off in the late 90’s with an unprecedented three No. 1 singles all from the same album. She was recently diagnosed with cancer.

Michigan – Glenn Frey

Glenn Frey
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The Eagles’ former frontman Glenn Frey is a legend in his own right. Frey helped carry the Eagles to superstardom with classic hits like “Heartache Tonight”, “Tequila Sunrise” and “Take it Easy.” Frey passed away in 2016, but his son, 24-year-old Deacon Frey, has taken up his father’s mantle with The Eagles.

Honorable mentions: Jana Kramer and Frankie Ballard

Minnesota – Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan
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Famed folk singer Bob Dylan brought soul and heart to his home state of Minnesota. Dylan has flirted with country music over the years and has made a huge impact on country songwriting. He recorded a few albums in Nashville, including parts of his famous 1966 record Blonde on Blonde, which is often cited as one of the greatest albums of all time. The Country Music Hall of Fame also has an exhibit dedicated to Dylan.

Mississippi – Jimmie Rodgers

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Known as “The Father of Country Music,” Jimmie Rodgers was famous for his yodeling, and in his heyday he toured with Will Rogers and recorded songs with Louis Armstrong. Rodgers inspired countless country greats. He was one of the first three people inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, alongside Fred Rose and Hank Williams.

Honorable mentions: Elvis Presley, Faith Hill, Kimberley Perry (of The Band Perry), LeAnn Rimes, Jimmy Buffett, Conway Twitty, Marty Stuart, Tammy Wynette, Randy Houser, Charley Pride, and Bobbie Gentry

Missouri – Porter Wagoner

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Anyone smart enough to give a young Dolly Parton her big break deserves his place in country music. Along with his music, Porter Wagoner was known for his flashy suits and called “Mr. Grand Ole Opry” by his fans.

Honorable mentions: David Nail, Sheryl Crow, Tyler Farr, Sara Evans, and Chris Janson.

Montana – Tim Ryan

Tim Ryan recorded four studio albums between 1990 and 1997, charting six singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and penned songs for Phil Vassar. Ryan was born in St. Ignatius, Mont.

Nebraska – Randy Meisner

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Randy Meisner achieved success in the 1970s as a founding member of the Eagles. Meisner played bass for the classic rock band, and is best known for writing the song, “Take It To The Limit.”

Nevada – Nikki Nelson

NIkki Nelson

Nikki Nelson gained notoriety in the 90s for her song “Too Little Too Much.” Originally from California, Nelson moved to Nevada at an early age.

New Hampshire – Tom Rush

 

Known mostly as a singer songwriter, Tom Rush cut songs for legends like Joni Mitchell and Emmylou Harris. Rush began his career in the 1960s when he was still enrolled in Harvard. He went viral recently for his cover of Steven Walters’ humorous “The Remember Song.”

New Jersey – Clint Black

Clint Black
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Born in Long Branch, N.J., Clint Black has been one of the most prolific hitmakers in country music. He is a member of the Grand Ole Opry and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

New Mexico – John Denver

John Denver
John Denver Estate

Born in Roswell, four years before anyone associated it with aliens, John Denver grew up pretty much all over the U.S. as a child of a member of the United States Air Force. In the course of his youth, Denver lived in Arizona, Alabama and Texas, which accounts for his musical subject matter which seems to span from sea to shining sea. In 1975, Denver received the CMA for Entertainer of the Year.

New York – Pete Seeger

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Pete Seeger is an Americana music icon who has made numerous contributions to the American songbook. His notable songs include “Where Have All The Flowers Gone?”, “If I Had A Hammer (The Hammer Song) and “Turn! Turn! Turn!” Seeger was active in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, and used his music to protest injustices and champion social causes throughout the years.

North Carolina – Charlie Daniels

southern anthems
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North Carolina has some great country music acts, but perhaps none so famous as the great Charlie Daniels. Daniels is a Country Music Hall of Fame Inductee and a member of the Grand Ole Opry, who is best known for his 1979 hit “Devil Went Down to Georgia.”

Honorable mentions: Kellie Pickler, Randy Travis, Luke Combs, Chris Layne and Ronnie Milsap.

North Dakota – Lynn Anderson

Lynn Anderson

Also known as “The Great Lady of Country Music,” Lynn Anderson has 10 No. 1 hit singles to her name, along with a storied career that includes two Top Female Vocalist awards from the ACM and a Female Vocalist of the Year from the CMAs. Anderson was born in Grand Forks.

Ohio – David Allan Coe

David Allan Coe
Facebook/David Allan Coe

Born in Akron, David Allan Coe has achieved a cult following as an outlaw country singer. Coe’s career has spanned fifty years so far. His cover of Steve Goodman and John Prine’s “You Never Even Called Me by My Name” went into the top 10 on the Billboard country charts in the early 2000’s, joining several other hit songs the artist had over the years.

Oklahoma – Garth Brooks

Houston Rodeo
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Garth Brooks owes a lot to his home state of Oklahoma. The singer started his career there, and his big break was largely due to his popularity there, especially at his old haunt, Wild Willie’s Saloon in Stillwater.

Honorable mentions: Carrie Underwood, Blake Shelton, Reba McEntire, Toby Keith, Vince Gill, Woodie Guthrie, Joe Diffie and Jean Shepard.

Oregon – Susan Raye

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Originally from Eugene, Susan Raye might be best remembered by some folks for her time on the show Hee Haw, but the brunette beauty spent several years working with Buck Owens and recorded seven top 10 hits in her prime during the 1970s.

Pennsylvania – Taylor Swift

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Though Taylor Swift broke up with country music, the long-legged singer still has her roots in country. Born in Pennsylvania, Swift was compared to LeAnn Rimes when she first hit the scene at the tender age of 16 with her first hit single, “Tim McGraw”.

Rhode Island – Billy Gilman

Rhode Island native Billy Gilman made an auspicious debut into country music at the age of 12 with his 2000 song, “One Voice” for which he received a Grammy nod. Most recently he competed on the 11th season of The Voice, winning first runner-up.

South Carolina – Bill Anderson

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Whisperin’ Bill Anderson was born in Columbia, S.C. and has made that city proud. As a member of the Grand Ole Opry, Anderson charted 7 No. 1 hits on country radio, and cut over 40 albums.

Honorable mentions: Darius Rucker, Lee Brice and Josh Turner.

South Dakota – Gary Mule Deer

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Gary Mule Deer was born in the famed town of Deadwood, S.D. and has performed his country music comedy act on the Tonight Show (back when it was in Johnny Carson’s domain) and the Late Show (with Jay Leno).

Tennessee – Dolly Parton

dolly parton sag awards
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Tennessee is where country music makes its home, so it’s no surprise to find a wealth of talent from that state. The legendary Dolly Parton’s humble upbringing in Tennessee was a large part of what made her the immense talent she is today.

Honorable mentions: Kelsea Ballerini, Kenny Chesney, Dustin Lynch, Chris Young, Hillary Scott, Rodney Atkins, Shooter Jennings, Craig Morgan, Ashley Monroe, and Rosanne Cash

Texas – Willie Nelson

Willie Nelson
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I know, we already listed him, but Willie has enough musical talent to spread around. Willie Nelson was born in Texas and is a treasure among native Texans. Nelson has notched 33 No. 1 songs, and written countless songs, many of which have been popularized by other country greats. Willie is a member of the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame, and is a founding member of Farm Aid.

Honorable mentions: George Strait, Josh Abbott Band, Aaron Watson, Pat Green, Miranda Lambert, and RaeLynn.

Utah – Ned Miller

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Ned Miller is best known for his 1969 hit song “From a Jack to a King,” which reached No. 2 on the Hot Country Songs chart of that year. Miller also wrote “A Dark Moon” and “A Falling Star” and “Invisible Tears.”

Vermont – Grace Potter

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Originally from Waitsfield, Grace Potter picked up a Grammy nod for her song “You and Tequila” with Kenny Chesney. She also sang with him on the 2015 hit “Wild Child.”

Virginia – Patsy Cline

Patsy Cline American Masters
Patsy Cline

Classic country songstress Patsy Cline holds a place in country music history that can’t be superseded. Cline’s crystal clear voice won the heart of the nation with hits like “I Fall to Pieces” and “Walkin’ After Midnight.” She was born in 1932, the same year as Loretta Lynn. If it weren’t for her untimely death at the age of 30, she might still be making music today.

Honorable mentions: Maybelle Carter, June Carter Cash, Canaan Smith, Ralph Stanley, Phil Vassar

Washington – Judy Collins

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A native of Seattle, Wa., Judy Collins had her first commercial success in 1967 with the Joni Mitchell penned hit “Both Sides Now” which nabbed her the Grammy award for Best Folk Performance that year. Her career included collaborations with Randy Newman, Crosby, Stills & Nash and The Beatles.

West Virginia – Brad Paisley

Brad Paisley
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Born in Glen Dale, Brad Paisley has three Grammys, 14 CMA Awards and 14 ACM Awards. He was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry at age 28, the youngest person ever inducted until Carrie Underwood was asked to join at the age of 25.

Wisconsin – Pee Wee King

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Wisconsin native Pee Wee King was well known in the 1930s for the movies he made with Gene Autry, but that wasn’t his only talent. The singer played at the Grand Ole Opry and released the song “Slow Poke” to critical acclaim. King popularized the flashy rhinestone cowboy outfits worn by so many country musicians.

Wyoming – Chris LeDoux

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Born in Mississippi, Chris LeDoux was a military child whose family moved around quite a bit due to his father’s career in the Air Force. He spent several years in Wyoming and even graduated from Cheyenne Central High School. LeDoux was known not only as a country singer but as an accomplished rodeo cowboy. He was notably mentioned in Garth Brooks’ breakout hit “Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old).”

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