182 voters

The Best Musical Artists From Kansas

Updated February 21, 2020 3.2k votes 182 voters 6.6k 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. 

  • 1


    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 rock charts and later with hit singles such as "Carry On Wayward Son" and "Dust in the Wind". The band has...  more

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  • 2

    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 songwriter. In a career spanning more than 50 years, he has been a member of five successful rock bands: James...  more

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  • 3

    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 singer-songwriter and record producer. She is known for her soprano singing range and her country pop...  more

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  • 4

    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, actress, and producer who is signed to Atlantic Records, as well as her own imprint, the Wondaland Arts...  more

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  • 5

    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 American jazz saxophonist and composer. Parker was a highly influential jazz soloist and a leading...  more

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  • 6

    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, Lisa Wertman Crowe and Frank Loose....  more
  • 7

    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 they are sometimes classified as a bluegrass, alternative country, or cowpunk band, their music draws on a...  more
  • 8

    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 activist. Her self-titled debut album Melissa Etheridge was released in 1988 and became an underground...  more

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  • 9

    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 "Bean", was an American jazz tenor saxophonist. One of the first prominent jazz musicians on his...  more
  • 10

    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, and Dan Benson. Originally a quartet, the band had a revolving door of bassists until in 1993, Allen opted...  more
  • 11
    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 the Wind (1939),...  more

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  • 12

    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 jazz artist. As a pianist, composer, arranger and band leader he led an innovative and influential jazz...  more
  • 13

    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 consists of Steve Moss, Brandon Burghart, and Mike Boyne. The trio has been categorized as hard rock, stoner...  more
  • 14
    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 name,...  more

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  • 15

    Bobby Watson

    Robert Michael Watson Jr. (born August 23, 1953), known professionally as Bobby Watson, is an American saxophonist, composer, and educator....  more
  • 16

    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 singer/guitarist Christopher Crisci, bassist Nathan Whitman, guitarist Taylor Holenbeck and drummer Nathan...  more

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  • 17
    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. She has...  more

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  • 18

    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, James David, Christian Jankowski, Adrianne Verhoeven and Justin Roelofs. The Anniversary was the...  more
  • 19


    Avant-garde jazz, Outsider music

    AlbumsMoondog, Moondog 2, More Moondog, In Europe, H'art Songs

    Louis Thomas Hardin (May 26, 1916 – September 8, 1999), also known as Moondog, was an American musician, composer, theoretician, poet and inventor of several musical instruments. He was blind from...  more
  • 20
    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
  • 21

    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 originally from Kinsley, Kansas. Johnston's songs are often about troubled loners, and cover topics...  more
  • 22

    Eden Ahbez


    AlbumsEden'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 influential in...  more
  • 23

    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 signed to Prosthetic Records. Following several self-produced EPs, the band's debut full-length, With...  more
  • 24
    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 performs...  more
  • 25

    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 full-length albums—Electric Kissing Parties, This Will Be Laughing Week, and Open up and Say Awesome. Shortly...  more