151 voters

The Best Musical Artists From Kansas

Updated February 21, 2020 2.7k votes 151 voters 5.4k views103 items

List RulesOnly artists born or raised in Kansas or bands formed in Kansas.

Here are the best artists and bands from Kansas. Often regarded as the heartland of America, it is easy to see why so many homegrown country and blues artists got their start in the state. Kansas has a vibrant music scene, including the Country Stampede Music Festival, which is one of the biggest festivals in the entire country. It is also home to the Walnut Valley Festival where people from all over the United States gather to enjoy some of the finest bluegrass groups playing today. They get to see some of the best musical artists from Kansas and around the Midwest. 

Country acts, like Martina McBride, define the area so well. However, there are still plenty of rock acts that have come out of the area. The band Kansas naturally got their start in the Sunflower State, along with bands, like The Midnight Ghost Train, Youngblood Supercult, and Split Lip Rayfield. Other popular Kansas artists include Janelle Monaé, Jennifer Knapp, Banshee, and Melissa Etheridge.

Are any of these acts your favorite? Perhaps you will find something you jam out to all the time in the list below. Either way, make sure you vote for your favorites so that everyone knows who the most famous Kansas musical artists are. 

  • Kansas1


    Heartland rock, Rock music

    AlbumsPoint of Know Return, Leftoverture, Kansas, The Best of Kansas, Freaks of Nature

    Kansas is an American rock band that became popular in the 1970s initially on album-oriented...  more

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  • Joe Walsh2

    Joe Walsh

    Blues-rock, Rock music

    Albums"But Seriously, Folks...", The Smoker You Drink, the Player You Get / You Can't Argue With a Sick Mind, Rocky Mountain Way

    Joseph Fidler Walsh (born November 20, 1947) is an American rock singer, guitarist, and...  more

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  • Martina McBride3

    Martina McBride

    Adult contemporary music, Country pop

    AlbumsWhite Christmas, Wild Angels, The Way That I Am, Martina, Evolution

    Martina Mariea McBride (née Schiff, born July 29, 1966) is an American country music...  more

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    The Best Martina McBride Albums of All Time#480 of 739 The Best Singers of All Time

  • Split Lip Rayfield4

    Split Lip Rayfield

    Bluegrass, Alternative country

    AlbumsIn the Mud, Split Lip Rayfield, Should Have Seen It Coming, Never Make It Home, I'll Be Around

    Split Lip Rayfield is a vocal and acoustic instrumental group from Wichita, Kansas. Though...  more
  • Charlie Parker5

    Charlie Parker

    Jazz, Bebop

    AlbumsPortrait, Bird: The Complete Charlie Parker on Verve, The Complete Savoy and Dial Studio Recordings 1944-1948, Bluebird, Jazz at Massey Hall

    Charles Parker Jr. (August 29, 1920 – March 12, 1955), also known as Yardbird and Bird, was an...  more

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  • Janelle Monáe6

    Janelle Monáe

    Contemporary R&B, Hip hop

    AlbumsThe ArchAndroid, The Electric Lady, Metropolis, Suite I: The Chase, The Audition

    Janelle Monáe Robinson (; born December 1, 1985) is an American singer, songwriter, rapper,...  more

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  • Vitreous Humor7

    Vitreous Humor

    Emo, Indie rock

    AlbumsPosthumous, Vitreous Humor EP, Vitreous Humor, Boys Life / Vitreous Humor

    Vitreous Humor was a Midwest emo band, formed in the late 1980s by Danny Pound, Brad Allen,...  more
  • Bobby Watson8

    Bobby Watson

    Robert Michael Watson Jr. (born August 23, 1953), known professionally as Bobby Watson, is an...  more
  • Melissa Etheridge9

    Melissa Etheridge

    Blues-rock, Heartland rock

    AlbumsMelissa Etheridge, Brave and Crazy, I'm the Only One, Lucky, Brother Bear 2

    Melissa Lou Etheridge (born May 29, 1961) is an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and...  more

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  • Coleman Hawkins10

    Coleman Hawkins

    Swing music, Bebop

    AlbumsColeman Hawkins in the 50's - Body and Soul Revisited, Wrapped Tight, Desafinado, Today and Now, Saxes Inc. / Trombone Scene

    Coleman Randolph Hawkins (November 21, 1904 – May 19, 1969), nicknamed "Hawk" and sometimes...  more
  • The Midnight Ghost Train11

    The Midnight Ghost Train

    Stoner rock

    AlbumsThe Midnight Ghost Train, Buffalo

    The Midnight Ghost Train is an American rock band from Topeka, Kansas. The band’s line-up...  more
  • Kendall Schmidt12
    Kendall Francis Schmidt (born November 2, 1990) is an American singer, songwriter, music...  more

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  • The Appleseed Cast13

    The Appleseed Cast

    Shoegazing, Rock music

    AlbumsMare Vitalis, The End of the Ring Wars, Lost Songs, Two Conversations, Peregrine

    The Appleseed Cast is an American indie rock band based in Lawrence, Kansas, composed of...  more

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  • Eden Ahbez14

    Eden Ahbez


    AlbumsEden's Island

    George Alexander Aberle, known as eden ahbez (April 15, 1908 – March 4, 1995), was an American...  more
  • Joyce DiDonato15
    Joyce DiDonato (née Flaherty; born February 13, 1969) is an American operatic lyric-coloratura...  more

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  • Stan Kenton16

    Stan Kenton

    Swing music, Jazz

    AlbumsCity of Glass, Cuban Fire!, Standards in Silhouette, A Merry Christmas!, Stan Kenton Plays Chicago

    Stanley Newcomb Kenton (December 15, 1911 – August 25, 1979) was an American popular music and...  more
  • Hattie McDaniel17
    Hattie McDaniel (June 10, 1893 – October 26, 1952) was an American stage actress, professional...  more

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  • Diane Bish18
    Diane Joyce Bish (born May 25, 1941) is an American organist, composer, conductor, as well as...  more
  • Vivian Vance19
    Vivian Vance (born Vivian Roberta Jones; July 26, 1909 – August 17, 1979) was an American...  more
  • Get Smart!20

    Get Smart!

    New Wave, Alternative rock

    AlbumsAction Reaction, Swimming with Sharks

    Get Smart! was a three piece band formed in Lawrence, Kansas in 1980 consisting of Marc Koch,...  more
  • The Esoteric21

    The Esoteric

    Rock music, Mathcore

    AlbumsSubverter, With the Sureness of Sleepwalking, A Reason to Breathe, Live at CBGB's NYC

    The Esoteric is a hardcore/rock band founded in 1996 from Lawrence, Kansas. They are currently...  more
  • Ultimate Fakebook22

    Ultimate Fakebook

    Emo, Power pop

    AlbumsThis Will Be Laughing Week, Open Up and Say Awesome, Electric Kissing Parties, Before We Spark

    Ultimate Fakebook is a 3-piece power pop band from Manhattan, KS. They released three...  more
  • The Anniversary23

    The Anniversary

    Emo, Alternative rock

    AlbumsYour Majesty, Designing a Nervous Breakdown, Devil on Our Side: B-Sides and Rarities, The Get Up Kids / The Anniversary, With Finch

    The Anniversary was an American band formed in Lawrence, Kansas in 1997 by Josh Berwanger,...  more
  • Mates of State24

    Mates of State

    Indie pop, Progressive rock

    AlbumsBring It Back, Re-Arrange Us, Mountaintops, My Solo Project, Team Boo

    Mates of State are an American indie pop duo, active since 1997. The group consists of the...  more

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  • Freedy Johnston25

    Freedy Johnston

    Rock music, Emo

    AlbumsThis Perfect World, Can You Fly, Never Home, My Favorite Waste of Time, The Trouble Tree

    Freedy Johnston (born Frederic John Fatzer in 1961) is a New York City-based singer-songwriter...  more