Top 10 Best Country Singers of All Time

The Top Ten
1 Johnny Cash John R. "Johnny" Cash (1932-2003) was an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, actor, and author, who was widely considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century and one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 90 million records worldwide. He died of... read more

The lonesomeness and rockabilly of Johnny's songs will never be replicated. Amazing work from one of the greatest songwriters of all time.

Cash played a unique genre. Not just country. I've heard it described like this: The honesty of folk, the attitude of rock, and the writing and twang of country. In no way was John like any other in the industry. He wore no rhinestones and didn't even play guitar normally! From his minimal recordings in the mid-fifties to his deeper later songs, he wasn't just a country and western balladeer, but an Americana icon, and even sunk in drug addiction, Cash managed to put out amazing songs. Though he died nearly 15 years ago, Cash's effect lingers in American music.

2 George Strait George Harvey Strait Sr. is an American country music singer, songwriter, actor, and music producer.

Number one. Period. The king. He IS country music. Johnny Cash is the blues. While one could argue that Johnny Cash is the most influential, perhaps the best artist of all time, I just can't say he is the best country artist of all time. George Strait is the standard that all true country fans hold the new generation of country musicians to.

The only reason country music is so out of shape now is because of teenage girls. When someone asks, What is country music? the best answer is George Strait. Besides The King, I see a lot of people on this list like George Jones and Merle Haggard and think, Wow, that's the definition of country. I see Johnny Cash and I think, Wow, what a legend. Call me ignorant, but I consider him a huge influence and an important staple in the history of music, but not the definition of country. That goes to the King himself.

3 Waylon Jennings

Waylon, the official groundbreaker in country music, has his own style unlike any other. He has more recordings and releases than anyone except George Jones, who could be the only singer ranked ahead of Waylon. Sure, Johnny Cash was awesome, but if he hadn't recorded his last album on his deathbed, he would not have been as popular with young listeners and probably deserves the fifth spot. You can't take anything away from Hank Sr., except for having passed at the tender age of 27. It's mostly young people doing these votings, and how could they understand that Taylor Swift, after a few years, couldn't possibly make an all-time list?

4 George Jones

The work of George Jones has been a large library full of classic, amazing, heartfelt, and true feeling songs. The King of Country in my book and I'm sure many others.

George Jones was the best pure singer. Every note and word felt authentic, and he had a beautiful voice. His singing was as smooth as silk, and his phrasing was innovative and captivating. I bet if you asked most of the singers on this list who was the best singer, they'd pick George Jones. Many of them did. Johnny Cash had a stock answer to that often-asked question, "Who is your favorite singer?" "You mean," he teased, "apart from George Jones?" George Jones was also highly respected outside of country music. Frank Sinatra said that Jones was the second-best singer in the world (Sinatra thought Tony Bennett was the best).

5 Merle Haggard Merle Ronald Haggard was an American country singer, songwriter, guitarist, and fiddler. Along with Buck Owens, Haggard and his band the Strangers helped create the Bakersfield sound.

One of the most overlooked artists of all time. Amazing and large library of songs about prison and many more themes of Merle's life.

The Hag is the poet laureate of country music. His writing is superb and transports you to his world of song with each verse and chorus. An example is Silver Wings, where Hag wrote a song that has no verse. It is chorus, bridge, solo, chorus, end. Nobody can pull that off but The Hag. No writer in Nashville would dare even try that. Country music is where it is today because of the gift The Hag brings to the world.

6 Willie Nelson Willie Hugh Nelson is an American musician, singer, songwriter, author, poet, actor, and activist. The critical success of the album Shotgun Willie, combined with the critical and commercial success of Red Headed Stranger and Stardust, made Nelson one of the most recognized artists in country music.

His voice may not be the most conventionally beautiful or polished, but Willie Nelson's voice is the greatest in music. It is raw and natural. George Jones once mentioned that he tried to evoke memories that made him feel as his narrator felt. While Willie doesn't use this technique, he achieves the same result: a voice that portrays all the emotion his song intends to convey. Add to that some of the most perfect lyrics in music (like in You Were Always on My Mind), and there is no beating it.

7 Sara Evans
8 Carrie Underwood Carrie Marie Underwood is an American singer, songwriter, and actress. She rose to fame as the winner of the fourth season of American Idol, in 2005. Her debut album, Some Hearts, was released in 2005.

There is no debating. Carrie Underwood is an amazing singer, along with all the most presented songs. In my opinion, I think she should be higher than she is. She won a 2005 version of "American Idol." She surely deserved every award she received, let alone the fact that many people turn her down as a great musician, in my mind, is wrong.

#1 fan!

Carrie Underwood has such a powerhouse of a voice within her. Though people always try to sing just like her, no one can sing the way she does. She turns ordinary songs into incredible vocal masterpieces. She is such a real person, too - her faith and her values shine through her music.

9 Garth Brooks Troyal Garth Brooks is an American singer and songwriter. His integration of rock and roll elements into the country genre has earned him immense popularity in the United States.

Here's the thing about Garth Brooks. He isn't just a one-note performer like some supposed "King of Country." He has more than just the stereotypical country songs, and he is more than just a stereotypical country singer. He infuses his songs with a sense of realism and truth. His performance adds another layer of authenticity that is rarely seen in country music from the nineties onward.

He's easily #1, which is why he is the most-selling artist in American history. You don't think he gets that spot for nothing, do you? Some of these randoms on here saying he's not top 5 are way out of their heads. He's at least top 3.

10 Tim McGraw Samuel Timothy "Tim" McGraw is an American singer, songwriter and actor. He has been married to singer Faith Hill since 1996, and is the son of the late baseball player Tug McGraw. McGraw has released fourteen studio albums.

I must say, Tim McGraw is definitely one of my favorite country singers of all time! He is a noble Christian, a devoted husband and father, and even has a remarkable wife with the same soothing voice. He is also a wonderful actor as well as an artist. If you haven't heard any of his songs, I highly suggest you do.

Simply one of the greatest. I think he connects more with the younger crowd than the older ones. That's probably why he's not top 5 worthy. But nonetheless, a top 10.

He is outstanding. I think the top 3 should be George Strait, Garth Brooks, and Tim McGraw. I like Tim McGraw the best, but they're all great. I mean, honestly, for some reason, I really don't like Johnny Cash.

The Contenders
11 Hank Williams Hiram King "Hank" Williams, was an American singer-songwriter and musician. His band was called "The Driftin' Cowboys"

The true Godfather of country music, Hank Sr. set an extraordinary example for artists to come. Country music would not be nearly the same without Ol' Hank.

Ole Hank poured his heart into every single song he did, with the solemn urgency of a country preacher. He delivered every line as if your soul depended on it. He could write, play, and sing his own music, and he did a mighty fine job of it. He is regarded as the "Hillbilly Shakespeare" by many today. Hank could write a rollicking song such as "Move it on Over," filled with wit and humor, and just as easily write country standards of heartbreak and sorrow such as "I'm so Lonesome I Could Cry". His songwriting aptitude was only matched by his electrifying stage performances that made him a rockstar before rockstars existed. Hank also recorded a number of recitations (under the name of "Luke the Drifter") with grandfatherly intonations and a moralist style that seemed far advanced beyond Hank's years.

Whether it was going "Honky Tonkin'" or yodeling out the "Long Gone Lonesome Blues," or proclaiming "I Saw the Light," Hank and his stellar band, The Drifting Cowboys, played it all. In this way, they gave all of America a snapshot into the life of the rural South in a way that few, if any, have been able to equal.

12 Alan Jackson Alan Jackson is an American country music artist. The first artist signed to Arista Nashville Records, he was with them from 1989 to 2011.

Alan Jackson is one of the most respected country music singers today, yet he might also be the most underrated. Garth Brooks has always been in the limelight, winning Entertainer of the Year in 2016 after a 13-year absence, with just one album release. Meanwhile, other artists have risen to fame by packaging a different product under the title of country music.

Alan Jackson has been the purest country singer in the past 30 years. Even George Strait's last couple of albums have adopted a more mainstream sound. While Strait makes it work, Alan Jackson has never wavered from his country roots, despite pressure from Nashville. He has been touring and releasing albums nonstop. Many of his songs are worthy of top hits but have failed to receive radio play simply because they are purely country.

Jackson has had more number one hits than Garth Brooks and has written more of his own hits than George Strait. Additionally, he does not use auto-tune for his voice. Alan Jackson is, without a doubt, the modern George Jones. This is evident in the words of the songs he writes, the way he sings, and his unwavering loyalty to country music. He's also a good man to his fans.

13 Blake Shelton Blake Tollison Shelton is an American country singer and television personality. In 2001, he made his debut with the single "Austin".

He's top 10 for sure. When you look up the best country songs from the 2000s and 2010s, the top is mostly Blake Shelton. Maybe some Carrie Underwood and Toby Keith. Did I just mention Oklahoma-born and raised country singers right there? Yes, yes I did. Oklahoma has the best there is.

Unlike any other country artist, this King has had number ones across all the different lanes of country music. He is the best country music vocalist in terms of vocal craft. His ability to play with vocal delivery techniques in a way complementary to the message of the songs he sings sets him apart from the rest. Blake's songs are very diverse, not only in terms of theme but also style.

14 Conway Twitty

Conway doesn't get nearly the credit for his solo career as he should. His style of music at that time was "not cool"! I say this as a man who grew up in the 70's, and I remember him well, more for his duets with Loretta than for his solos. The love songs he sang weren't considered "macho" then, unlike Cash, Merle, etc., at that time. Just my opinion.

Conway's songs were all unique from each other, unlike the generic same old sound of today's so-called country singers without talent. Conway was a master in performance, having voice variety, classic personality, and a gift in music communication. He was and is unbeatable!

15 Ray Price Noble Ray Price was an American country music singer, songwriter, and guitarist. His wide-ranging baritone is regarded as among the best male voices of country music, and his innovations, such as propelling the country beat from 2/4 to 4/4, known as the "Ray Price beat", helped make country music more... read more

This man is not #25, he should be in the top 3. He invented modern country music in 1956 and had the biggest voice of any singer in the genre. He has been around since the time of Hank and is still going. This position in the list reflects great ignorance.

Ray Price had respect for country music and, most of all, his fans. Not like some of the so-called new country singers. I sure hope we keep real country alive. It was in my life growing up and still is every day.

The purity of his voice is really not matched by anyone above.

16 Brad Paisley

The amazing scope of topics covered in his emotive songs, peppered with witticism and backed by his strong and sweet vocals, absolutely brings him into the discussion of the GOAT! Let's not romanticize the old greats for old time's sake. Brad has dominated country music for the past 20 years, and long may that continue!

He's not the best country artist of all time, but you could definitely argue he's one of the best guitarists in all of country music.

He's an absolute icon. Every song is crisp and is straight vibes. Probably not top 10, but you could make a solid case for it.

17 Dolly Parton Dolly Rebecca Parton is an American singer-songwriter, actress, author, businesswoman, and humanitarian, known primarily for her work in country music.

Seriously, Dolly Parton at 27th with Alan Jackson, Carrie Underwood, and some of the newer country singers in front of her? She is one of the reasons there is a Carrie Underwood and Alan Jackson. Don't get me wrong, Carrie and Alan are pretty awesome, but Dolly at 27? I'm not even going to read the rest of this article. It's too stupid. But, I do think you got number 1 correctly with Mr. Cash. After that, this list is crap. Dolly and Garth should be in the top 5.

When you hear of the best female country artists, there's Carrie Underwood and then right behind her is good ole Dolly Parton. She hasn't produced one bad song. If you have her outside the top 3 female country artists of all time, you are crazy.

18 Hank Williams Jr.

A great example of a continued legacy of the Williams name. Hank Jr. did end up filling his dad's shoes with the music he shared.

Simply put, the greatest. Did it his way. Not only a great singer but also a great writer of music. There will never be another like Hank Jr.

After drinking and nearly dying after falling off Ajax Mountain, he did his own music, which in my opinion is the best, and he is my #1 favorite singer.

19 Kenny Chesney Kenneth Arnold "Kenny" Chesney is an American country singer and songwriter. He has recorded 20 albums, 14 of which have been certified gold or higher by the RIAA.

Saying Kenny Chesney isn't in the top 10 is blasphemy, but saying he isn't as good as Brad Paisley is just dumb. Not only should Kenny be in the top 10, but he should also be #1 on the list. There's no way in any world that Carrie Underwood, Brad Paisley, Alan Jackson, and Garth Brooks are even on Kenny's level.

He is the best! He has no bad songs. He sings from the heart and has never changed. He is still that same old country boy he used to be. In my opinion, he almost has what it takes to keep up with Cash, Hank, Willie, and Strait. Keep it up! He is the best.

20 David Allen Coe

Pleased to see that DAC made the list. My favorite artist by far due to his outlaw attitude. Coe doesn't give a damn.

He is one of the original outlaw country singers and an amazing songwriter.

David Allan Coe, in my opinion, is one of the top five songwriters of all time. He sings all genres of music and sings them well. His influence on country music has no bounds, and he has helped to achieve the careers of many young artists. He never took no for an answer.

I think you should be in the top three and probably the top one of the outlaws. He is one of my true heroes. Thank you, David. You're what makes America great. If you ain't country, they can kiss my ASS.


21 Taylor Swift Taylor Alison Swift is an American singer-songwriter. She was born on December 13, 1989, in Reading, Pennsylvania. Swift is best known for writing personal songs and has won 13 Grammy Awards... read more

The only reason Taylor Swift is ranked lower is because she doesn't do country anymore. She makes pop music, which is also extremely awesome and worth listening to. But let's be honest, her country music was also amazing. Anyone could relate to them, and they had a beautiful meaning behind them. Taylor Swift is too underrated. Even though she changed from country to pop, she still has the same beautiful personality inside. Maybe she changed for the better?

Although she's a pop singer, these youngsters have missed the early days of Taylor Swift. She may have had a short-lived country career, but boy, she could sing the best country I've heard from a woman. If she had pursued country her whole life, she could have been better than Carrie. Call me crazy.

22 Marty Robbins

A true Western singer, Marty Robbins has gone down as a staple in country/western music. A very unique and Western atmosphere surrounds Marty's music like no other.

Anyone who knows anything about music would put Marty Robbins at No. 1 on the list. His voice was beautiful. He knew how to emote, phrase, and write. I could go on and on! Marty had class. When he walked on stage, he was mesmerizing right from the start! George Jones? Come on. He couldn't carry Marty's music. Marty could sing with an orchestra as well as with a lone guitar because he had a voice that stood on its own. I get so upset when other singers are placed above him. Who decides these ratings, anyway?

23 Kacey Musgraves
24 Miranda Lambert Miranda Leigh Lambert is an American country music singer and songwriter. She is best known as a solo artist, and is a member of the Pistol Annies.

I think Miranda Lambert is an amazing singer and just blows me away. If you agree with me on this, like this comment. Her song "Our Way" brings me to tears now that my grandfather has cancer and has 3 months. Amazing...

She will be a legend when her career is over. Not many today have the drive that artists of the past had, like Tammy, Loretta, Patsy, and so many more. Awesome.

The top three females should be:
Dolly Parton
Miranda Lambert
Carrie Underwood

I voted for Miranda because she's the one who introduced me to the country genre, and because she takes on crazy styles and lyrics. She's brave to put those words into songs. An awesome woman.

25 Keith Whitley

I would place Keith at about #5 personally, primarily because his influence on country music was so short. If he had lived longer, country might have been way different! If based purely on vocals, he's the best singer in my opinion. So much emotion from every song, and instantly recognizable. George Jones would also be up there in that category. Keith lived his songs, was an awesome personality, and still inspires new artists in spite of his short career.

I had a demo tape when he started out that my brother gave me. He said, Listen to this and tell me what you think. I got back with him and told him if this guy keeps it up, he would be bigger than Merle. When they found him and said that he had passed, my heart felt like it broke. What a voice.

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