Best Country Musicians

The Top 10 Best Country Musicians

The list of the top 10 best country musicians is long but in this content we shall be outlining only few, particularly 10. This 10 country singers that are picked are no doubt some of the best of the best among all. Don’t get it twisted, the rest are reputably known as very great in what they contributed to the history and stature of country music in the society of men.

This list below is packed with the oldest but whose music is still reigning and making that wave around till date:

1. Willie Nelson

One of country’s greatest crossover artists in the top 10 best country musicians, the Red Headed Stranger (and his distinctively nasal voice) has scored hits like “Always on My Mind,” “On the Road Again” and “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” on both the country charts and the Top 40 in the Seventies and Eighties.


He ought to know, too, since he also penned some of country’s all-time greatest hits, including Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” and Faron Young’s “Hello Walls,” over a decade before he was world famous.

But for all his pop appeal, he has lived the outlaw life that Johnny Cash mostly only sang about: He smokes marijuana, he infamously dodged the I.R.S. and he still spends more time out on the open road, touring, than musicians a quarter of his age.

Key Tracks: “On the Road Again,” “Funny How Time Slips Away”

2. Don Williams

With his warm, resonant voice and laid-back stage delivery, this tall Texan (nicknamed the “Gentle Giant”) turned mellow country tunes such as “Good Ole Boys Like Me” into enchanting tales akin to refined Southern literature.

The first country artist to film a concept music video in 1973, Williams mined gold with songs from Bob McDill (“Amanda”), Townes Van Zandt (“If I Needed You,” with Emmylou Harris) and Danny Flowers (“Tulsa Time”). His own compositions were cut by Johnny Cash (“Down the Road I Go”), Eric Clapton (“We’re All the Way”) and Pete Townshend (“Til the Rivers All Run Dry”).

Best Country Musicians

The 1978 CMA Male Vocalist and 2010 Country Music Hall of Fame inductee inspired a fervent international following, performing live until his 2016 retirement. A 2017 tribute LP, Gentle Giants, featured such Williams fans as Alison Krauss, Garth Brooks, Brandy Clark, Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires.

Key Tracks: “I Believe in You,” “Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good,” “Some Broken Hearts Never Mend”

3. Connie Smith

Dubbed “the Rolls Royce of female country vocalists” by Grand Ole Opry announcer Eddie Stubbs for the overwhelming power and elegance of her rafter-rattling instrument, Connie Smith made history in 1964 with the Bill Anderson-penned “Once a Day.”

Connie Smith

The first female country artist with a Number One debut single, her subsequent hits melded Nashville Sound production and exquisite songcraft with effortlessly plaintive vocals, whether she’s singing honky-tonk weepers or soul-affirming gospel.

As Dolly Parton once said, “There’s really only three female singers in the world: Streisand, Ronstadt and Connie Smith. The rest of us are only pretending.”

Her most recent LP, Long Line of Heartaches, produced by husband Marty Stuart, was issued just prior to her 2012 election into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Key Tracks: “Nobody But a Fool (Would Love You),” “Burning a Hole in My Mind,” “The Hurtin’s All Over”

4. Dolly Parton

A global pop icon whose career as musician and actress transcends country, Parton is one of its greatest singer-songwriters, and her signatures – “Jolene,” “Coat of Many Colors” and the irrepressible “I Will Always Love You” – are among the genre’s defining classics.

Best Country Musicians

Her birdlike soprano has been the gold standard for countless singers, and her winking persona (“It costs a lot to look this cheap!”) has made her a heroine of camp. But even with an empire that includes the Dollywood theme park, she’s kept it real, with a string of fine 2000s bluegrass LPs joining a catalog of over 20 Number One hits.

Key Tracks: “Coat of Many Colors,” “9 to 5”.

5. Loretta Lynn

A coal miner’s daughter from Butcher Hollow, Kentucky, Loretta Lynn was a wife by 15, a mother soon after and is forever the queen of country music. Lynn sang, with her crystalline mountain quiver, about veterans and scorned wives, and women who weren’t in the mood for lovin’ – as well as about those who maybe logged a little too much time between the sheets.

Classics like “The Pill,” “Rated X” and “Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind)” are as controversial as they are legendary; and though Lynn would often avoid attaching a feminist narrative to her music, they unfolded a whole new future for women on Music Row.

With more awards than any female in the genre and scores of partnerships under her belt – with everyone from Conway Twitty to Jack White – Lynn has kept the classics coming and the naysayers guessing, with lyrics that pierce the heart and tickle the mind. “I just write about what I would do if it was me,” she told Rolling StoneM.M.

Key Tracks: “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” “The Pill,” “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man)”

6. Taylor Swift

It was inevitable that Taylor Swift would leave country music behind for pop – her superstar quality could not be contained by just one genre. As a teenager writing her own songs, Swift ­– born in Pennsylvania, groomed in Nashville – impacted country radio before she was even 18, with “Tim McGraw” a Top 10 hit, and “Our Song” her first country Number One in 2007.


By the time she’d invoked the wrath of Kanye West at the 2009 VMAs, she was already playing to a different tune than her peers, and subsequent LPs Fearless and Red led to greater notoriety. Still, her conscious uncoupling from the genre that established her ahead of 2014’s smash 1989 left some wishing she kept one foot in country. “Love you, mean it,” Swift said in a 2014 Rolling Stone cover story, “but this is how it’s going to be.” J.G.

Key Tracks: “You Belong to Me,” “Tim McGraw”.

7. Jim Reeves

Initially styled as a honky-tonk troubadour, Texas-born Jim Reeves scored early hits with “Mexican Joe” and the novelty tune “Bimbo” before making an abrupt change that altered the trajectory of country music. For his 1957 single “Four Walls,” Reeves adopted a crooning vocal style that emphasized his resonant baritone and paired it with producer Chet Atkins’ lush, mellow arrangement, creating what may well be the first Countrypolitan record in the process.


The gamble was a successful one: “Four Walls” reached the top of the country chart and Number 12 on the pop chart. Reeves would apply this smoothed-out approach for the remainder of his career, scoring his biggest hit with the vibraphone-assisted “He’ll Have to Go” in 1959, but scoring a succession of hits with “Am I Losing You,” “I Know One” and “Adios Amigo,” among others.

Reeves’ career was cut tragically short in 1964, when the plane he was piloting crashed after encountering bad weather in Nashville, but his efforts to reach out to the larger world of pop are still echoing well into the present day. J.F.

Key Tracks: “He’ll Have to Go,” “Four Walls”

8. Merle Travis

Kentucky-born Merle Travis was one of the first guitar heroes. His unconventional style of playing, especially on the electric guitar, influenced no less than Chet Atkins, with whom he recorded the Grammy-winning Atkins-Travis Travelling Show album in 1974. But Travis was more than just a player; he also wrote, recorded and sang a number of hits, including “Sixteen Tons,” which Tennessee Ernie Ford turned into his signature in 1955.

“Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette)” was another Travis composition, taken to Number One by its co-writer Tex Williams, while the cheekily titled “So Round, So Firm, So Fully Packed” also employed smoking metaphors – to describe a woman.

Travis was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1977, where the solid-body electric guitar he designed – a precursor to the Fender Telecaster – is on display today. J.H.

Key Tracks: “Sixteen Tons,” “So Round, So Firm, So Fully Packed”

9. George Jones

He was country’s greatest vocalist, able to reinvent melodies and stretch out words in ways that seemed impossible and felt completely natural. No one sang the songs of devotion and heartbreak at the core of country’s mission – “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” “She Thinks I Still Care,” “We Must Have Been Out of Our Minds,” “We’re Gonna Hold On,” “The Grand Tour” – with more knowledge or feeling, yet Jones did rockers just as well as weepers, and early honky-tonk standouts like “Why Baby Why” and “White Lightning” could go toe-to-toe with Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley.

Jones was famed not just for his masterful phrasing, but for the way he lived the pain he sang. Well known is the story of how, when his second wife hid the car keys to keep him from drinking, he drove a riding mower in search of booze.

Less well known is the wasting devastation that alcohol and drugs wrought – he was so very wrecked by 1980 that it took some two years to finish My Very Special Guests, an album featuring Elvis Costello, Linda Ronstadt and Tammy Wynette, whose tempestuous six-year marriage to Jones had ended in 1975, but not before it produced some of country’s finest duets.

It was Jones’ fourth wife, Nancy Sepulveda, who was credited with pulling him back from the brink in the mid-Eighties, after hard drinking and missed gigs had earned him the nickname “No Show Jones.”

Key Tracks: “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” “The Grand Tour”

10. Johnny Cash

Country’s self-proclaimed Man in Black embodied outlaw country’s rebel spirit. He sang about criminals
(“Folsom Prison Blues”), he gigged in prisons (his At Folsom Prison and At San Quentin live LPs) and he overcame a nasty drug habit.

Improbably, he even infiltrated the grunge era with a stripped-back folk-poet sound, courtesy of rock producer Rick Rubin, making rock songs, like Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt,” sound all the more cutting, thanks to his powerful baritone. But at the same time, he could sing beautiful love songs with his wife, June Carter Cash, and lead a family-friendly concert revue for ABC-TV, which he branded with the most famous salutation in country: “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash.”

His impact was so extraordinary that when President Bill Clinton received him at the Kennedy Center Honors, he proclaimed, “[Cash] has made country music not just for our country, but for the entire world.” Key Tracks: “Folsom Prison Blues,” “I Walk the Line”

Leave a Reply

Discover more from School Drillers

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading