When it comes to having a music career, sometimes artists are talented beyond their years. Countless singers got their big break long before turning 21, which is the case for all of the country stars on this list. From one-hit wonders to folks who became bonafide superstars, here are some of the most notable child stars to make it big in Nashville.
Billy Gilman started making public performances at the age of 7 and, a couple of years later, was discovered by Ray Benson of Asleep at the Wheel, who ended up helping him record demos that landed him a Nashville record deal. His debut single "One Voice" ended up a top 20 hit on the country charts and earned Gilman a Grammy nomination, making him the youngest (at the time) to receive the nominations for Best Male Country Vocal Performance and Best Country Song. He was also (at the time) the youngest singer to ever perform at the Grand Ole Opry. Gilman continued releasing a few more albums before taking some time away and making a musical comeback as a contestant on The Voice in season 11, where he was runner-up on Team Adam Levine.
Jessica Andrews was just a teenager when she landed a record deal in Nashville and started performing as Faith Hill's opening act on tour. Her debut album, Heart-Shaped World, was released when she was 15 years old, featuring the successful single "I Will Be There for You." Her second album included her number one hit on the country charts, "Who I Am," which also charted on the Billboard Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary charts. Though her music that followed never reached the same level of success, Andrews released a third album in 2003 and has continued making music and performing around Nashville in the years since.
Long before she recorded hit songs like "Jolene," Dolly Parton was a kid from the Smoky Mountains who had a gift and a dream of going places. She started performing on The Cas Walker Show when she was just 10 years old and had her first single released with a Louisiana label when she was 13 -- "Puppy Love." She was able to perform her new song at the Grand Ole Opry, where the Man in Black himself encouraged her to keep pursuing music. As we know, she became the legendary Dolly we love today with a successful film, TV, and music career that has made her a country music icon.
13-year-old LeAnn Rimes kicked off her music career with the release of the successful single "Blue." After successfully charting on the country billboards, Rimes followed up with "How Do I Live," also recorded by Trisha Yearwood for the movie Con Air. She's released 18 albums since 1991, was the youngest person to win a Grammy Award for "Blue," and has even managed to have a successful acting career appearing in numerous films on the Hallmark Channel.
15-year-old Blaine Larsen released his debut album with an independent label in 2004, but he really found success when it was reissued the following year under a new name and big Nashville label. His highest charting song to date was "How Do You Get That Lonely," which made it to 18 on the country Billboard charts. He toured with the likes of Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts and Kenny Chesney and even collaborated on a duet with Gretchen Wilson. These days, he lives in Nashville with his family, where he continues to write and perform music.
Since Taylor Swift is arguably one of the biggest pop stars in the world, it's especially impressive to look back at the early days when she was a 15-year-old releasing her first single in Nashville. "Tim McGraw" kicked off her career with a bang, followed by her first number one hit, "Our Song." Now she has numerous Grammy-winning albums under her belt and has successfully crossed genres from country to pop to Americana and back again, proving that she's one of the great performers of her time. Not to mention she still writes her own music and is widely believed to be one of the most talented songwriters of any genre.
Tanya Tucker was only 13 years old when she landed her first hit with "Delta Dawn." Similar to LeAnn Rimes, Tucker's voice was mature beyond her years and helped the song not only reach the top 10 on the charts, but sent her on a path to becoming a star. Across her four-decade career, Tucker has earned numerous Grammy nominations, is an ACM and CMA Award winner, and continues to make and perform music.
While Marie Osmond is known for many things throughout her career, she actually got her start as a country singer when she was just 14. Her 1973 cover of Anita Bryant's "Paper Roses" was a No. 1 hit on the country charts and top 5 on the pop Billboard charts. She followed up this success with some well-known duets with her brother Donny and even pursued an acting career. She hasn't really continued her singing career past the '80s outside of stints on Broadway, but her big debut to the country music world will always be remembered as wildly successful.
Hank Williams Jr
As the son of one of the greatest country stars of all time, Hank Williams Jr. had some big shoes to fill. But when he was just 14, he started covering his father's songs in public performances on The Jimmy Dean Show, recorded his own album and even put together an album of duets with recordings of his late father's voice. Though he initially gained a following by taking on his father's voice and style, he started doing his own thing when he turned 18 and has gone on to have an incredibly successful career in his own right. Not only does he continue making music, but so do most of his children.
Before she became synonymous with "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," Brenda Lee started performing music when she was just 5 years old. As a child, she was a regular performer on the country music show "TV Ranch" on WAGA-TV in Atlanta, followed by a contract on the national TV program Ozark Jubilee in Springfield, Missouri, when she was 10. By the time she was 12, she had a record deal that resulted in numerous country/pop hits like "One Step at a Time." She continued releasing successful country music through the '50s and '60s and was even inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
READ MORE: 12 Country Star Children Who Are Carrying on the Family Tradition
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