100 Most Popular Country Music Stars

Country and western music has come a long way from its stereotype of white male-dominated music that’s played on a fiddle to the rhythm of stomping cowboy boots. These days, women are also finding success, and the country and western genre has continued to evolve, today often incorporating other genres such as pop, rock, and hip hop.

In recognition of this singular American music genre, 24/7 Wall St. has compiled a list of 100 of the most popular country music stars, who have sung their way to the top.

Click here to see the 100 most popular country music stars.
Click here to see our methodology.

The music genre is closely associated with the South, but since at least the late 1960s, its popularity spread to other parts of the country. According to a Country Music Association report from 2017, at least 30% of the U.S. population listens to country music. And in Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi, it is 55% of the population. No surprise there. What might be surprising is the high share of country music fans in the country’s midsection — in states such as the Dakotas, Minnesota, Iowa, and Nebraska. There, 51% of people are country music aficionados.

The CMA report also claims that country music fans listen to music from that genre almost five hours a day, an hour more than fans of other types of music.

The industry is based in Nashville, Tennessee. Hopefuls from all over the country and the world go to Music City to take their shot at songwriting for stars and performing in clubs and bars in the hopes of being offered a record deal. They dream of reaching the ultimate destination of country and western venues — performing on the stage of the venerable Grand Ole Opry.

Country and western music is a vital part of Nashville, contributing $5.5 billion to the local economy, according to a Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce study.

The chamber study also says Nashville has the highest concentration of music business establishments — music publishers, recording studios, record labels, distributors — of any major metropolitan area in the United States.

Because country and western music is an expanding industry, there are many opportunities to succeed.

The journeys to stardom of some country and western performers are often themselves similar to a country and western song itself. Many have overcome childhood adversity, a shattered marriage, or working multiple jobs to support their family before fame arrived.

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