Country music is an American musical genre largely associated with traditional values and small-town life, yet also enjoyed in regions outside the Deep South (Shusterman 1999; Bernstein 2016).
Over time, numerous new country artists have come to Nashville hoping to break through and achieve stardom. While some succeed at doing this, others struggle.
1. Garth Brooks
Garth Brooks has made an immense mark on the music industry with his innovative neo-traditionalist music and high energy arena shows. As one of country music’s most successful artists, he has amassed sales exceeding 100 million albums worldwide.
He is a member of the Grand Ole Opry and has received many honors, such as Entertainer of the Year at both ACM and CMA Awards.
Garth, along with being an accomplished musician, is also a dedicated father and husband to Trisha Yearwood. Additionally, he remains an outspoken supporter of Nashville’s music system and professional songwriters’ rights.
Garth wrote the song, “Good Ride Cowboy”, in tribute to Chris LeDoux who died from liver cancer. This tune has become one of his signature tunes since its debut on his second album No Fences back in 1990.
2. Luke Bryan
Luke Bryan is an award-winning country music artist whose success can be attributed to the sincerity and relatability of his songs.
No matter whether he’s singing about hunting deer or drinking margaritas, his fans can connect to his songs as many have experienced similar moments themselves.
He has won several accolades for his talent and career, such as Entertainer of the Year by the Academy of Country Music. Additionally, he serves as a judge on American Idol’s rebooted version which now features Lionel Richie and Katy Perry since 2017.
Bryan is an exceptional musician, but what sets him apart from other artists in his genre is his unrivaled authenticity. As such, Bryan listens carefully to his fans and understands their needs.
3. Kenny Chesney
Kenny Chesney has become one of the most successful country music artists worldwide. With sales exceeding 30 million records worldwide and tours around the globe, Chesney remains an extremely sought-after artist in country music.
He began writing original music while studying advertising at East Tennessee State University. Soon thereafter he relocated to Nashville where he started performing in small clubs and restaurants.
In 2002, he released No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems which featured an array of arena rock, beach-influenced music and intimate ballads that achieved significant commercial success and yielded several hit singles.
Since then, Chesney has continued releasing hit songs and albums and winning numerous awards; becoming an international household name.
4. Jason Aldean
Jason Aldean hails from Macon, Georgia. Since 2005 he has been signed to Broken Bow Records and released 10 albums and 40 singles under this record label.
His music fuses country rock and pop influences such as Joe Diffie.
He boasts an impressive arsenal of guitars, including Les Paul and ESP models for creating heavy bluesy sounds and a Gibson SG reissue for signature solos.
5. Luke Combs
Luke Combs is a prominent country music artist who has achieved much success within the industry, earning multiple awards and distinctions throughout his career.
He has also served as an excellent example for young musicians looking to break into music, being humble and respectful while staying close to his roots.
As a youngster, he became keenly interested in music and began performing early. This inspired him to continue pursuing it professionally.
He eventually dropped out to focus on his musical career full-time, playing gigs around his college town and amassing an extensive fan base and social media following.
He is one of the premier country music artists in North America, boasting numerous hit singles and his recent album Growin’ Up which quickly made it to #1 on country charts and sold out football stadiums across North America.
6. Jason Aldean
Jason Aldean, one of country music’s bestselling artists, has sold more than 10 million albums and won numerous accolades including Entertainer of the Year from the Academy of Country Music.
He was born in Macon, Georgia and began playing music as soon as he could.
Years after his attempts at music were fruitless, he finally got his chance when he signed with Broken Bow Records in 2005 and released his debut album at number one on the country charts.
He has established himself by merging traditional country with rock elements. Additionally, he has earned multiple awards including three consecutive Entertainer of the Year honors from the Academy of Country Music.
7. Zac Brown Band
Zac Brown Band is a multi-platinum and Grammy Award-winning country rock group based out of Atlanta, Georgia that has sold over one million records and earned multiple platinum certifications with their popular songs like “Chicken Fried.”
Zac Brown is well known as both an accomplished musician and businessperson. He founded Southern Ground Artists (previously Home Grown), a record label which has released many top country acts.
The Zac Brown Band currently comprises eight members. These are singer Zac Brown, guitarist/keyboardist Coy Bowles, fiddle player Jimmy De Martini, fiddler Chris Fryar, drummer Chris Fryar, bassist Matt Mangano and multi-instrumentalist John Driskell Hopkins.
8. Jason Aldean
Jason Aldean has been making waves in country music since 2005 with a string of hit albums and songs that have brought him international renown.
He was born in Macon, Georgia and his parents divorced when he was three years old. Afterward, his mother cared for him during school year while summers would find him visiting his father in Florida.
Aldean quickly took to country music despite the separation of his parents, beginning his musical journey at an early age at a VFW hall in Macon and becoming a staple at local talent contests.
He has released 10 albums and 40 singles since 2008 and currently signs to Broken Bow Records. In that time he has won multiple awards for both his music and performances; with albums known for their powerful sounds and creative lyrics.
9. Zac Brown Band
Zac Brown Band is an eight-member country music ensemble known for their eclectic and varied sound. They draw influence from a broad array of artists.
Since 2002, The Band began their journey towards country music stardom. Originally consisting of bassist John Hopkins and fiddler Jimmy De Martini as core members, but since then they have added additional members as time passed.
The band has earned itself a name for their lively performances and catchy songs, winning fans with each set. Their ability to switch between festive and more melancholic numbers is remarkable; furthermore, they remain up-to-date with industry trends is remarkable.
10. Zac Brown Band
Zac Brown Band has become one of the premier country music groups since 2008, dominating their genre with their southern-influenced songs and powerful performances. Fans from across all genres have become loyal followers.
Zac Brown leads an eight-member band consisting of guitarist Coy Bowles, fiddler Jimmy De Martini, bassist John Hopkins, drummer Chris Fryar, percussionist Daniel de los Reyes and multi-instrumentalist Matt Mangano.
The band formed in 2002 with bassist John Hopkins and fiddler Jimmy De Martini as its core members, releasing its inaugural independent album Home Grown one year later. To fund their full-time touring schedule they sold their restaurant in Lake Oconee, Georgia in order to purchase a tour bus, selling off everything they owned on Lake Oconee as they went.