Many musical traditions are important to the people of Kentucky. Bluegrass is prominent in the region as well as Appalachian folk music. This type of music draws influence from English ballads and songs from Scotland and Ireland. Merle Travis, a famous country and western singer born in the state, developed a new style of guitar picking that was later named after him. Kentucky is responsible for a lot of great music, but have you ever wondered who the best musical artists from Kentucky are?
Some artists, like Nick Lachey of 98 Degrees, were born in Kentucky but raised elsewhere. Other famous artists like Joan Osborne spent their entire childhoods in the Bluegrass State. Numerous bands, such as Nappy Roots and My Morning Jacket, were based out of Kentucky for a time before they grew in national acclaim. Kentucky truly has a storied history, and these roots have influenced music for the past several decades but according to Rocker magazine the following artists, representing all different kinds of genres, were selected by the magazine’s readers as the best. The readers’ votes were counted, and the following twenty-five artist received the highest number of votes in a list of no less than 100 favorite Kentucky musical artists. See if you agree.
Chris Stapleton Bluegrass, Country, Southern rock
Chris Stapleton is an American country, bluegrass, and rock musician signed to Universal Music Group Nashville. He is an established songwriter. with four number one songs including the remake of Tennessee Whiskey.
Bill Monroe Traditional bluegrass, Bluegrass, Gospel music
William Smith Monroe was an American mandolinist, singer, and songwriter who created the style of music known as bluegrass. The genre takes its name from his band, the Blue Grass Boys.
The Kentucky Headhunters Country rock, Country, Southern rock
The Kentucky Headhunters is an American country rock and Southern rock band. They were founded in 1968 as Itchy Brother, which consisted of brothers Richard Young and Fred Young
Sturgill Simpson Americana, Alternative country, Roots rock
John Sturgill Simpson (born June 8, 1978) is an American country music singer-songwriter. As of August 2017, he has released three albums as a solo artist.
Loretta Lynn Honky-tonk, Alternative country, Gospel music
Loretta Lynn is a multiple gold album American country music singer-songwriter whose work spans more than 50 years. She has received numerous awards and other accolades for her groundbreaking style.
Billy Ray Cyrus Country pop, Country rock, Alternative rock
William “Billy” Ray Cyrus is an American singer, songwriter, and actor. Having released twelve studio albums and forty-four singles since 1992, he is best known for his number one “Ache Breaky Heart.”
Dwight Yoakam Rockabilly, Country rock, Country
Dwight David Yoakam is an American singer-songwriter, actor and film director, most famous for his pioneering country music. Popular since the early 1980s, he has recorded more than 21 albums.
John Michael Montgomery Country
John Michael Montgomery is an American country music artist. Montgomery began singing with his brother Eddie. This talents family includes a sister Becky who may be a better vocalist than either of her famous brothers. John’s son Walker has signed with Phillip Morris agency and has a rising star all his own.
The Everly Brothers Christian music, Rock music, Rockabilly
The Everly Brothers were American country-influenced rock and roll singers, known for steel-string guitar and close harmony singing. Isaac Donald “Don” Everly and Phillip were very popular and have recorded iconic songs.
Cage the Elephant Punk blues, Garage rock, Garage punk
Cage the Elephant is an American rock band from Bowling Green, Kentucky, that formed in 2006. The group currently consists of Matthew “Matt” Shultz, Brad “Dave” Shultz, Jared
Chris Knight Folk music, Country
Chris Knight is an American singer-songwriter from Slaughters, Kentucky. In addition to releasing solo records of his own material, Knight has had a successful career writing songs that have topped the Folk music charts.
The Judds Country
The Judds were an American country music duo composed of Naomi Judd and her daughter, Wynonna Judd. Signed to RCA Records in 1983, the duo released six studio albums between then and 1991
Rosemary Clooney Traditional pop music, Vocal jazz
Gone but not forgotten; Rosemary Clooney was an American cabaret singer and actress. She came to prominence in the early 1950s with the novelty hit “Come On-a My House”, which was followed by other pop standards of note.
Keith Whitley Country
Jackie Keith Whitley, known professionally as Keith Whitley, was an American country music singer. During his short career, Whitley charted 19 singles on the Billboard country charts.
Tom T. Hall Outlaw country, Bluegrass, Country
Thomas “Tom T.” Hall is a retired American country music songwriter, singer, novelist, and short-story writer. He has written 11 No. 1 hit songs, with 26 more that reached the Top 10.
Sam Bush Progressive bluegrass, Bluegrass
Charles Samuel “Sam” Bush is an American bluegrass mandolin player considered an originator of the Newgrass style.
Patty Loveless Country pop, Country rock, Honky-tonk
Patty Loveless is an American country music singer. Since her emergence on the country music scene in late 1986 with her first album, Loveless has been one of the most popular female singers
Montgomery Gentry Country
Montgomery Gentry is an American country music duo composed of vocalists Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry, both natives of Kentucky. The two began performing in the 1990s as part of two independent acts then merged to make music history.
Joan Osborne Rock music, Folk music, Country rock
Joan Elizabeth Osborne is an American singer-songwriter and interpreter of music, having recorded and performed in various popular American musical genres including pop, soul, R&B, Blues, and Country.
Black Stone Cherry Blues-rock, Rock music, Heavy metal
Black Stone Cherry is an American hard rock band, formed in 2001 in Edmonton, Kentucky. They are signed to Roadrunner Records. The band consists of Chris Robertson, Ben Wells, Jon Lawhorn and just came off a successful tour of England and Ireland late last year.
The Osborne Brothers Bluegrass
The Osborne Brothers, Sonny Osborne, and Bobby Osborne, were an influential and popular bluegrass act during the 1960s and 1970s. They are probably best known for their No. 33, 1967 country hit “Rocky Top”, written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant and named after a fictional Tennessee location.
Roscoe Holcomb Folk music, Old-time music, Bluegrass
Roscoe was an American singer, banjo player, and guitarist from Daisy, Kentucky. A prominent figure in Appalachian folk music, Holcomb was the inspiration for the term “high, lonesome sound,” coined by folklorist and friend John Cohen. Roscoe is known as the “King of the High lonesome sound.” The term is now used to describe bluegrass singing,
Bryson Tiller R&B, Hip hop
Bryson Djuan Tiller (born January 2, 1993), is an American singer, songwriter, and rapper. Tiller initially gained notable recognition following the release of his debut single, “Don’t”, and his debut studio album, Trapsoul.
Tantric Rock music, Post-grunge, Alternative rock
Tantric is an American rock band from Louisville, Kentucky. The group was founded in 1999 by former Days of the New members Todd Whitener, Jesse Vest, and Matt Taul, later recruiting Hugo Hugo Ferreira as their lead singer. Altogether Tantric has released six studio albums and one EP.
Bleach Christian rock
Bleach rounds out the top 25 vote-getters and is an American Christian-rock band based in Nashville, Tennessee.