100 Most Popular Country Music Stars

Source: David Redfern / Getty Images

10. Charley Pride
> No. of weeks on Hot Country chart (all time): 714
> Wikipedia page views (1 yr.): 574,488
> Weeks with an album at No. 1: 85

Between 1966 and 1984, Charley Pride — an erstwhile Negro American League baseball player who became the first major African American country star — 52 singles became country top 10 hits. He continued to have success through the latter ’80s and ’90s and released his most recent album, “Music in My Heart,” in 2017 at the age of 83.

Source: Hulton Archive / Getty Images

9. Johnny Cash
> No. of weeks on Hot Country chart (all time): 802
> Wikipedia page views (1 yr.): 4,694,279
> Weeks with an album at No. 1: 56

Johnny Cash’s decades-long career began with his first recordings at the fabled Sun Records in Memphis in the mid-1950s. This legendary country icon — known as “the Man in Black” — continued recording through the early 2000s (he died in 2003), culminating with his late-career American Recordings LPs. The latter albums featured songs by Tom Waits, Nick Lowe, and Beck, among others, and guest appearances by such musicians as Tom Petty, Mick Fleetwood, and Flea. Among his indelible hits were “I Walk the Line,” “Ring of Fire,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” and “A Boy Named Sue.”

Source: Clive Brunskill / Getty Images

8. Shania Twain
> No. of weeks on Hot Country chart (all time): 450
> Wikipedia page views (1 yr.): 1,813,993
> Weeks with an album at No. 1: 97

Canadian-born Shania Twain ruled the country airwaves in the 1990s with her slick country pop. Her first album came out in 1993, but it was her second, 1995’s “The Woman in Me” that launched her to stardom, with its No. 1 single “Any Man of Mine.” After a lull between 2008 and 2011, Twain returned to touring and recording, and her 2017 album “Now” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard country and Top 200 charts.

Source: Harry Langdon / Getty Images

7. Kenny Rogers
> No. of weeks on Hot Country chart (all time): 556
> Wikipedia page views (1 yr.): 1,101,546
> Weeks with an album at No. 1: 98

Kenny Rogers tasted musical success during his stints with The New Christy Minstrels and The First Edition. His first major hit as a solo artist came with “Lucille” in 1977, a success on both the country and pop charts — establishing Rogers as a crossover artist almost from the start. Between 1978 and 1980, Rogers had nine straight No. 1 singles (including “The Gambler,” which became a signature for him and inspired a movie of the same name), and later scored with duets with Dottie West (No. 98) and Dolly Parton (No. 18), partnered in a fast-food chicken chain, and remained a major concert attraction even as his album sales slowed.

Source: Ethan Miller / Getty Images

6. Tim McGraw
> No. of weeks on Hot Country chart (all time): 1,217
> Wikipedia page views (1 yr.): 971,496
> Weeks with an album at No. 1: 75

Tim McGraw has piled up the accolades in his almost-30-year career: 10 No. 1 albums, 25 No. 1 country singles, three Grammys, 11 Country Music Association honors, and overall sales of more than 80 million records worldwide. Son of noted Mets and Phillies pitcher Tug McGraw and husband of country star Faith Hill (No. 49), he has also had an acting career, with feature roles in a number of TV shows and movies.

Source: Clayton Call / Getty Images

5. Willie Nelson
> No. of weeks on Hot Country chart (all time): 671
> Wikipedia page views (1 yr.): 2,637,942
> Weeks with an album at No. 1: 94

The rough-hewn Texas troubador has posted 20 chart-topping singles on Billboard’s country charts, beginning with “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” in 1975 and extending to “Beer for My Horses” in 2003. In between, the pony-tailed Nelson recorded some of the most recognizable country hits, like “Always On My Mind” in 1982, “To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before” in 1984, and “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys,” his 1978 duet with Waylon Jennings (see No. 12). A passionate populist, the nine-time Grammy winner was one of the organizers of Farm Aid in 1985 that aimed to provide relief for family farms.

Source: Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images

4. Taylor Swift
> No. of weeks on Hot Country chart (all time): 444
> Wikipedia page views (1 yr.): 6,962,328
> Weeks with an album at No. 1: 89

Taylor Swift is equally at home in the pop and country genres and has become one of the most powerful women in music. The Pennsylvania native has recorded five albums that have climbed to No. 1 on the country charts. Seventy-seven of Swift’s songs have reached the Billboard Hot 100, including five No. 1 hits, such as “Blank Space” (No. 1 for seven weeks) and “Shake It Off,” both in 2014. According to the Recording Industry Association of America, she is the third best-selling musician of all time, based on digital singles sales.

Source: Ethan Miller / Getty Images

3. George Strait
> No. of weeks on Hot Country chart (all time): 1,779
> Wikipedia page views (1 yr.): 1,330,515
> Weeks with an album at No. 1: 61

The Texas-born Strait is an exemplar of traditional country music, and his influence has extended to more contemporary performers like Randy Travis (see No. 11), Dwight Yoakam (see No. 79), and Garth Brooks (see No. 1). Forty-four of his singles have topped the Billboard country chart, the first in 1982 (“Fool Hearted Memory”) and the last in 2009 (“River of Love”). Over that span, Strait has been nominated for a Grammy 16 times and has won once.

Source: David Redfern / Getty Images

2. Alabama
> No. of weeks on Hot Country chart (all time): 964
> Wikipedia page views (1 yr.): 201,778
> Weeks with an album at No. 1: 124

Formed in Fort Payne, Alabama, in 1977 by cousins Randy Owen and Teddy Gentry, the group put country bands out front rather than in support of a singer, as had been the practice of country music acts. That may sound more like a rock act, and indeed the two-time Grammy winners were influenced by that genre, and they have had six songs chart in the top 40 Billboard Hot 100. But Alabama is a country group, as evidenced by their success on the Hot Country Songs list — 33 No. 1 hits, most of them charting in the 1980s, including “High Cotton” and “Face To Face.”

Source: Rick Diamond / Getty Images

1. Garth Brooks
> No. of weeks on Hot Country chart (all time): 873
> Wikipedia page views (1 yr.): 1,824,713
> Weeks with an album at No. 1: 173

The most popular country music star on our list is Garth Brooks. The singer-songwriter from Oklahoma is the most prolific solo performer in U.S history with more than 148 million albums sold. Seventeen LPs went to No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart, among them “No Fences,” “Ropin’ The Wind,” and “Fresh Horses.” He’s also had 19 No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot Country Songs list, such as “Two Piña Coladas” and “If Tomorrow Never Comes.” The two-time Grammy Award winner is the only artist to have won six Country Music Association Entertainer of the Year awards. He is married to fellow country music star Trisha Yearwood (see No. 69).