Music

The Best Musical Artists From Kansas 

Ranker Music
Updated February 21, 2020 1.4k votes 115 voters 3.3k views 103 items

List Rules Only 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. 

list ordered by
1
Kansas is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kansas

Albums: Point of Know Return, Leftoverture, Kansas, The Best of Kansas, Freaks of Nature, + more

Kansas is an American rock band that became popular in the 1970s initially on album-oriented rock charts and later with hit singles such as "Carry On Wayward Son" and "Dust in the ...more

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#28 of 372 Musicians Who Belong In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame #213 of 1,891 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Timelisted on 1970s Christian Pop Artists

2
Martina McBride is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kansas
Genre: Adult contemporary music, Country pop & Country; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: White Christmas, Wild Angels, The Way That I Am, Martina, Evolution, + more

Martina Mariea McBride (née Schiff, born July 29, 1966) is an American country music singer-songwriter and record producer. She is known for her soprano singing range and her country pop ...more

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The Best Martina McBride Albums of All Time #110 of 316 The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Years #532 of 784 The Best Singers of All Time

3
Joe Walsh is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kansas
Justin Wade Clements added Genre: Blues-rock, Rock music & Folk rock; Nationality: United States of America

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

Joseph Fidler Walsh (born November 20, 1947) is an American rock singer, guitarist, and songwriter. In a career spanning more than 50 years, he has been a member of five successful rock bands: ...more

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The Best Joe Walsh Albums of All Time #24 of 225 The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters #33 of 372 Musicians Who Belong In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame

4
Melissa Etheridge is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kansas
Genre: Blues-rock, Heartland rock & Rock music; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Melissa Etheridge, Brave and Crazy, I'm the Only One, Lucky, Brother Bear 2, + more

Melissa Lou Etheridge (born May 29, 1961) is an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and activist. Her self-titled debut album Melissa Etheridge was released in 1988 and became an underground ...more

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The Best Melissa Etheridge Albums of All Time #168 of 316 The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Years #296 of 372 Musicians Who Belong In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame

5
Janelle Monáe is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kansas
Genre: Contemporary R&B, Hip hop & Soul; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: The ArchAndroid, The Electric Lady, Metropolis, Suite I: The Chase, The Audition, + more

Janelle Monáe Robinson (; born December 1, 1985) is an American singer, songwriter, rapper, actress, and producer who is signed to Atlantic Records, as well as her own imprint, the ...more

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The Best Janelle Monáe Albums, Ranked #86 of 120 Current Singers You Most Wish You Could Sound Like #66 of 198 The Greatest New Female Vocalists of the Past 10 Years

6
Split Lip Rayfield is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kansas

Albums: In the Mud, Split Lip Rayfield, Should Have Seen It Coming, Never Make It Home, I'll Be Around, + more

Split Lip Rayfield is a vocal and acoustic instrumental group from Wichita, Kansas. Though they are sometimes classified as a bluegrass, alternative country, or cowpunk band, their music draws ...more
7
Eden Ahbez is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kansas
Eden Ahbez Genre: Exotica; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Eden's Island

George Alexander Aberle, known as eden ahbez (April 15, 1908 – March 4, 1995), was an American songwriter and recording artist of the 1940s to 1960s, whose lifestyle in California was ...more
8
The Esoteric is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kansas

Albums: Subverter, 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 signed to Prosthetic Records. Following several self-produced EPs, the band's debut full-length, ...more
9
The Appleseed Cast is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kansas

Albums: Mare Vitalis, The End of the Ring Wars, Lost Songs, Two Conversations, Peregrine, + more

The Appleseed Cast is an American indie rock band based in Lawrence, Kansas, composed of singer/guitarist Christopher Crisci, bassist Nathan Whitman, guitarist Taylor Holenbeck and drummer ...more

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#120 of 121 The Best '90s Christian Bands & Artists #104 of 149 The Best Emo Bands #88 of 99 The Best Shoegaze Bands

10
Joyce DiDonato is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kansas

Albums: Colbran, the Muse, Drama Queens, Homecoming: The Kansas City Symphony Presents Joyce DiDonato

Joyce DiDonato (née Flaherty; born February 13, 1969) is an American operatic lyric-coloratura mezzo-soprano notable for her interpretations of the works of Handel, Mozart, and Rossini. ...more

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#14 of 77 The Greatest Living Opera Singers #51 of 153 The Greatest Opera Singers of All Time #29 of 123 The Greatest Female Opera Singers of All Time

11
The Midnight Ghost Train... is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kansas
The Midnight Ghost Train

Albums: The Midnight Ghost Train, Buffalo

The Midnight Ghost Train is an American rock band from Topeka, Kansas. The band’s line-up consists of Steve Moss, Brandon Burghart, and Mike Boyne. The trio has been categorized as hard rock, ...more
12
Vivian Vance is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kansas
Vivian Vance (born Vivian Roberta Jones; July 26, 1909 – August 17, 1979) was an American television and theater actress and singer. Vance is best known for her role as Ethel Mertz, sidekick to ...more

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#229 of 339 The Funniest People Of All Time #410 of 753 People We Wish Were Still Alive #56 of 282 The Funniest Female Comedians of All Time

13
Diane Bish is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kansas
Diane Joyce Bish (born May 25, 1941) is an American organist, composer, conductor, as well as executive producer and host of The Joy of Music television series. As a concert organist, she ...more
14
Kendall Schmidt is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kansas
Kendall Francis Schmidt (born November 2, 1990) is an American singer, songwriter, music producer and actor. He played Kendall Knight in Big Time Rush, participated in a boy band with the same ...more

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15
Charlie Parker is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kansas
Justin Wade Clements added Genre: Jazz and Bebop; Nationality: United States of America

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

Charles Parker Jr. (August 29, 1920 – March 12, 1955), also known as Yardbird and Bird, was an American jazz saxophonist and composer. Parker was a highly influential jazz soloist and a leading ...more

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16
Bobby Watson is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kansas
Bobby Watson

Albums: Midwest Shuffle, Love Remains, Soulful Serendipity, Advance, Portrait of a Player, + more

Robert Michael Watson Jr. (born August 23, 1953), known professionally as Bobby Watson, is an American saxophonist, composer, and educator.
17
Hattie McDaniel is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kansas
Hattie McDaniel (June 10, 1893 – October 26, 1952) was an American stage actress, professional singer-songwriter, and comedian. She is best known for her role as "Mammy" in Gone with ...more

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18
The New Amsterdams is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kansas

Albums: Worse for the Wear, Killed or Cured, Para Toda Vida, At the Foot of My Rival, Story Like a Scar, + more

The New Amsterdams is a Lawrence, Kansas-based American band featuring Matthew Pryor of The Get Up Kids.
19
Ultimate Fakebook is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kansas

Albums: This 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 full-length albums—Electric Kissing Parties, This Will Be Laughing Week, and Open up and Say Awesome. ...more
20
Origin is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kansas

Albums: Origin, Antithesis, A Coming into Existence, Informis Infinitas Inhumanitas, Echoes of Decimation, + more

Origin is an American death metal band from Topeka, Kansas, founded in 1998. They have been recognized by music critics and metal fans alike for combining a harsh sound with a high level of ...more
21
Butterglory is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kansas

Albums: Are You Building a Temple in Heaven?, Downed: A Singles Collection, Crumble, Rat Tat Tat, Our Heads, + more

Butterglory is an American indie-rock band from Lawrence, Kansas. Contemporaries of indie rock groups like Pavement and Archers of Loaf, the band helped explore similar musical territories and ...more
22
Coleman Hawkins is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kansas
Genre: Swing music and Bebop; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Coleman Hawkins in the 50's - Body and Soul Revisited, Wrapped Tight, Desafinado, Today and Now, Saxes Inc. / Trombone Scene, + more

Coleman Randolph Hawkins (November 21, 1904 – May 19, 1969), nicknamed "Hawk" and sometimes "Bean", was an American jazz tenor saxophonist. One of the first prominent jazz ...more
23
Freedy Johnston is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kansas
Genre: Rock music, Emo & Power pop; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: This Perfect World, Can You Fly, Never Home, My Favorite Waste of Time, The Trouble Tree, + more

Freedy Johnston (born Frederic John Fatzer in 1961) is a New York City-based singer-songwriter originally from Kinsley, Kansas. Johnston's songs are often about troubled loners, and cover topics ...more
24
Mates of State is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kansas

Albums: Bring It Back, Re-Arrange Us, Mountaintops, My Solo Project, Team Boo, + more

Mates of State are an American indie pop duo, active since 1997. The group consists of the husband-and-wife team of Kori Gardner (vocals, organ, synthesizer, piano, electric piano, and ...more

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#92 of 103 The Best Musical Duos #49 of 100 The Best Musical Artists From Connecticut #49 of 50 The Best Indie Duos Of All-Time

25
Stan Kenton is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kansas
Genre: Swing music, Jazz & West Coast jazz; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: City of Glass, Cuban Fire!, Standards in Silhouette, A Merry Christmas!, Stan Kenton Plays Chicago, + more

Stanley Newcomb Kenton (December 15, 1911 – August 25, 1979) was an American popular music and jazz artist. As a pianist, composer, arranger and band leader he led an innovative and influential ...more