According to music historians, country music originated in the 1920s in south-west Virginia and eastern Tennessee. It is pretty much an American style of music. You’ll find elements of blues, folk, bluegrass, and rural dance music in this music genre. In the following decades of the 20th century, it spread to other parts of the world.
However, since it was mostly popular in the West, it is referred to as country western music by many. The popularity of this genre can be attributed to many great artists, who took country songs to the masses. Here, we’ll get to know some of these top country music singers of all time.
1. Jimmie Rodgers
He is known among the ardent country music fans as ‘The Father of Country Music’. He was discovered in 1927 at the Victor Talking Machine Company’s renowned Bristol Sessions. What made him one of the genre’s first big stars was his iconic style of yodeling.
He had a significant influence over several country musicians that came after him. Unfortunately, he died in 1933 after his last recording session owing to complications associated with tuberculosis. Nevertheless, he will always be remembered for his hits such as Blue Yodel No. 1 and In The Jailhouse Now.
2. Roy Acuff
Also called The King of Country Music, Roy Acuff was a central figure in the Grand Ole Opry. He played an important role in moving the genre into the singer-driven sound from the ‘hoedown’ format. Hank Williams had once mentioned that Acuff had more drawing power than God in the South.
Acuff’s career began in the 1930s with the Smoky Mountain Boys. He was also a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1938. In the 1940s, he became the co-founder of one of the most important country music labels, Acuff-Rose Records.
3. Jean Shepard
Shepard shot to fame with A Dear John Letter, which released in 1953. She went on to release 73 singles and recorded 24 studio albums between the mid-1950s and the early 1980s. In 1955, she became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Shepard is often regarded as a pioneer for women in the genre.
She was among the very first female superstars in the world of country music. Owing to the national appearances that she made on the Grand Ole Opry, Shepard became a household name. She was also instrumental in taking the honky-tonky country mainstream.
4. Brenda Lee
She is best known for her song I’m Sorry, which was released in 1960. Brenda Lee had more top-ten hits in the 1960s than anyone else other than Elvis, Ray Charles, and The Beatles. Fondly called ‘Little Miss Dynamite’, she was often the shortest person in the room.
Despite her short stature, her voice was the biggest on the radio. Lee was the first woman to be inducted into the Country Music as well as the Rock and Roll Halls of Fame. She also received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009.
5. Willie Nelson
Although Nelson got started his career in the 1960s by writing songs, he rose to prominence during the 1970s. For almost his entire career, he has played the same guitar called Trigger. He once stated that when his Trigger can’t be played anymore, he will hang up his hat and retire.
What truly made him a beloved artist of the outlaw country movement was his soft and soothing voice. His most memorable albums include Stardust and Shotgun Willy.