Music

The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky 

Ranker Music
Updated October 5, 2019 5.5k votes 755 voters 9.7k views 102 items

List Rules Only artists born or raised in Kentucky or bands formed in Kentucky.

Here are the best artists and bands from Kentucky. Many musical traditions are important to the people of Kentucky. Bluegrass is prominent in the region as well as Appalachian folk music. This type of music draws influence from English ballads and songs from Scotland and Ireland. Merle Travis, a famous country and western singer born in the state, developed a new style of guitar picking that was later named after him. Kentucky is responsible for a lot of great music, but have you ever wondered who the best musical artists from Kentucky are?

Some artists, like Nick Lachey of 98 Degrees, were born in Kentucky but raised elsewhere. Other famous artists like Joan Osborne spent their entire childhoods in the Bluegrass State. Numerous bands, such as Nappy Roots and My Morning Jacket, were based out of Kentucky for a time before they grew in national acclaim. Kentucky truly has a storied history, and these roots have influenced music for the past several decades. Other popular Kentucky artists include Billy Ray Cyrus, Cage the Elephant, The Everly Brothers, and Bryson Tiller.

These artists may come from all different kinds of genres, but it is up to the readers to decide who should take the top spot. Will a country act take first or a hard rock band? It is up to you, so start voting for your favorite Kentucky musical artists. 

list ordered by
1
Black Stone Cherry is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky

Albums: Black Stone Cherry, Folklore and Superstition, Between the Devil & The Deep Blue Sea, Rock'n'Roll Tape, Rain Wizard EP, + more

Black Stone Cherry is an American hard rock band, formed in 2001 in Edmonton, Kentucky. They are signed to Roadrunner Records. The band consists of Chris Robertson, Ben Wells, Jon Lawhon, and ...more

More Black Stone Cherry 

#1,053 of 1,728 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #80 of 179 The Best Bands That Are Named After Foods #143 of 154 The Best Hard Rock Bands/Artists

2
Chris Stapleton is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky
Christopher Alvin Stapleton (born April 15, 1978) is an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and record producer. He was born in Lexington, Kentucky, and grew up in Staffordsville, Kentucky, ...more

More Chris Stapleton 

#1 of 57 The Best New Country Artists #860 of 1,020 The Worst Bands & Musicians of All Time #40 of 291 The Top Country Artists of All Time

3
Bride is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky

Albums: Show No Mercy, Snakes in the Playground, Oddities, Silence Is Madness, Kinetic Faith, + more

Bride were an American Christian rock band formed in the 1980s, by brothers Dale and Troy Thompson. During the band's peak years it was known for covering a wide range of musical styles and ...more

More Bride 

#69 of 121 The Best '90s Christian Bands & Artists #14 of 55 The Best '90s Christian Rock Bands & Artists #10 of 44 The Best '90s Christian Metal Bands

4
The Kentucky Headhunters... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky

Albums: Electric Barnyard, Soul, Pickin' on Nashville, Rave On!!, Big Boss Man, + more

The Kentucky Headhunters are an American country rock and Southern rock band. They were founded in 1968 as Itchy Brother, which consisted of brothers Richard Young (rhythm guitar, vocals) and ...more

More The Kentucky Headhunters 

#1,653 of 1,728 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #260 of 291 The Top Country Artists of All Time #177 of 211 The Greatest Classic Country & Western Artists Of All-Time

5
Loretta Lynn is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky
Genre: Honky-tonk, Alternative country & Gospel music; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Van Lear Rose, Coal Miner's Daughter, A Country Christmas, Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man, + more

Loretta Lynn (née Webb; born April 14, 1932) is an American country music singer-songwriter with multiple gold albums in a career spanning almost 60 years. She is famous for hits such as ...more

More Loretta Lynn 

The Best Loretta Lynn Albums of All Time #52 of 225 The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters #177 of 372 Musicians Who Belong In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame

6
Dwight Yoakam is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky
Genre: Rockabilly, Country rock & Country; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Buenas Noches From a Lonely Room, 3 Pears, Come On Christmas, A Long Way Home, If There Was a Way, + more

Dwight David Yoakam (born October 23, 1956) is an American singer-songwriter, musician, and actor, known for his pioneering style of country music. First becoming popular in the mid-1980s, ...more

More Dwight Yoakam 

The Best Dwight Yoakam Albums of All Time #301 of 541 The Greatest Guitarists Of All Time #19 of 291 The Top Country Artists of All Time

7
Bill Monroe is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky
Genre: Traditional bluegrass, Bluegrass & Gospel music; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Southern Flavor, Blue Grass 1959-1969, The Music of Bill Monroe: 1936 to 1994, True Life Blues: The Songs of Bill Monroe, The Great Bill Monroe, + more

William Smith Monroe (; September 13, 1911 – September 9, 1996) was an American mandolinist, singer, and songwriter, who created the style of music known as bluegrass. Because of this, he is ...more

More Bill Monroe 

#868 of 1,891 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #261 of 526 Which Artist Would You Bring Back From The Dead To Write One More Song? #343 of 603 The Best Rock Vocalists

8
Tyler Childers is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky
kathryn.bowman added
Tyler Childers (born June 21, 1991) is an American country music singer and songwriter. He released his breakout album titled Purgatory in August 2017. The album was produced by Sturgill Simpson ...more

More Tyler Childers 

#23 of 57 The Best New Country Artists #181 of 291 The Top Country Artists of All Time #163 of 184 The Best Male Country Singers of All Time

9
Sturgill Simpson is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky

Albums: High Top Mountain, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, Bastard Children

John Sturgill Simpson (born June 8, 1978) is an American country music singer-songwriter. As of August 2017, he has released three albums as a solo artist. He released two albums independently, ...more

More Sturgill Simpson 

#89 of 291 The Top Country Artists of All Time #150 of 184 The Best Male Country Singers of All Time #12 of 23 The Best Rappers & Musicians On Joe Rogan

10
Cage the Elephant is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky

Albums: Thank You, Happy Birthday, Cage the Elephant, Melophobia, Ain't No Rest for the Wicked, + more

Cage the Elephant is an American rock band from Bowling Green, Kentucky, that formed in 2006. The group currently consists of Matthew "Matt" Shultz, Brad "Dave" Shultz, Jared ...more

More Cage the Elephant 

The Best Cage The Elephant Songs #797 of 1,728 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #358 of 389 The Best Punk Bands Of All Time

11
Montgomery Gentry is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky

Albums: My Town, Tattoos & Scars, Carrying On, Some People Change, You Do Your Thing, + more

Montgomery Gentry is an American country music duo composed of vocalists Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry, both natives of Kentucky. The two began performing in the 1990s as part of two ...more

More Montgomery Gentry 

#1,581 of 1,728 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #145 of 291 The Top Country Artists of All Time #68 of 184 The Best Male Country Singers of All Time

12
The Everly Brothers is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky

Albums: Christmas With The Everly Brothers, The Everly Brothers Sing Great Country Hits, It's Everly Time, Born Yesterday, All-Time Original Hits, + more

The Everly Brothers were an American country-influenced rock and roll duo, known for steel-string acoustic guitar playing and close harmony singing. Consisting of Isaac Donald "Don" ...more

More The Everly Brothers 

The Best Everly Brothers Albums of All Time #49 of 1,891 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #136 of 263 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands

13
Keith Whitley is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky
Genre: Country; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Kentucky Bluebird, Don't Close Your Eyes, L.A. to Miami, I Wonder Do You Think of Me, Wherever You Are Tonight, + more

Jackie Keith Whitley (July 1, 1954 – May 9, 1989) was an American country music singer. During his career, Whitley only recorded two albums but charted 12 singles on the Billboard country ...more

More Keith Whitley 

#154 of 526 Which Artist Would You Bring Back From The Dead To Write One More Song? #74 of 291 The Top Country Artists of All Time #294 of 815 These Poetic Geniuses Wrote Your Favorite Songs of All Time

14
My Morning Jacket is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky

Albums: It Still Moves, My Morning Jacket Does Xmas Fiasco Style, Z, Circuital, At Dawn, + more

My Morning Jacket is an American rock band formed in Louisville, Kentucky in 1998. The band currently consists of vocalist/guitarist Jim James, bassist Tom Blankenship, drummer Patrick Hallahan, ...more

More My Morning Jacket 

The Best My Morning Jacket Songs #796 of 1,728 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #66 of 93 The Best Opening Act You've Ever Seen

15
Billy Ray Cyrus is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky
Genre: Country pop, Country rock & Alternative rock; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Achy Breaky Heart, Some Gave All, Change My Mind, Time Flies, Storm in the Heartland, + more

Billy Ray Cyrus (born August 25, 1961) is an American singer-songwriter and actor. He has released 16 studio albums and 53 singles since 1992, and is known for his number one single "Achy ...more

More Billy Ray Cyrus 

#748 of 1,891 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #215 of 274 The Hottest Men Of 2020, Ranked #119 of 146 The Best Hallmark Channel Actors

16
John Michael Montgomery ... is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky
Genre: Country; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Kickin' It Up, Life's a Dance, John Michael Montgomery, Brand New Me, Leave a Mark, + more

John Michael Montgomery (born January 20, 1965) is an American country music singer. Montgomery began singing with his brother Eddie, who would later become known as one half of the duo ...more

More John Michael Montgomery 

#72 of 291 The Top Country Artists of All Time #61 of 184 The Best Male Country Singers of All Time #14 of 55 The Best Country Singers From Kentucky

17
Patty Loveless is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky
Genre: Country pop, Country rock & Honky-tonk; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Bluegrass & White Snow: A Mountain Christmas, Mountain Soul II, Mountain Soul, Only What I Feel, Up Against My Heart, + more

Patricia Lee Ramey (born January 4, 1957), known professionally as Patty Loveless, is an American country music singer. Since her emergence on the country music scene in late 1986 with her first ...more

More Patty Loveless 

#401 of 677 The Best Female Vocalists Ever #38 of 291 The Top Country Artists of All Time #28 of 211 The Greatest Classic Country & Western Artists Of All-Time

18
Tom T. Hall is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky
Genre: Outlaw country, Bluegrass & Country; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: In Search of a Song, The Essential: Story Songs, Home Grown, 100 Children, Ballad of Forty Dollars and His Other Great Songs, + more

Thomas T. Hall (born May 25, 1936) is an American country music songwriter, singer, instrumentalist, novelist, and short-story writer. He has written 12 No. 1 hit songs, with 26 more that ...more

More Tom T. Hall 

#239 of 291 The Top Country Artists of All Time #85 of 104 The Best One-Hit Wonders of the 1970s #75 of 211 The Greatest Classic Country & Western Artists Of All-Time

19
Audio Adrenaline is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky

Albums: Audio Adrenaline, Worldwide, Underdog, Don't Censor Me, Some Kind of Zombie, + more

Audio Adrenaline is a Christian rock band that formed in the mid 1980s at Kentucky Christian University in Grayson, Kentucky. The band has received two Grammy Awards and multiple Dove Awards. ...more

More Audio Adrenaline 

#4 of 121 The Best '90s Christian Bands & Artists #3 of 55 The Best '90s Christian Rock Bands & Artists #18 of 510 The Very Best Christian Bands & Artists

20
The Osborne Brothers is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky

Albums: Bluegrass Collection, The Essential Osborne Brothers Collection, Country Bluegrass, When The Roses Bloom In Dixieland, Bluegrass 1956-68, + more

The Osborne Brothers, Sonny Osborne (born October 29, 1937) and Bobby Osborne (born December 7, 1931), were an influential and popular bluegrass act during the 1960s and 1970s. They are probably ...more

More The Osborne Brothers 

#11 of 55 The Best Country Singers From Kentucky #11 of 167 The Best Bluegrass Bands and Artists

21
The Judds is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky

Albums: Greatest Hits, The Judds: Wynonna & Naomi, Christmas Time With The Judds, I Will Stand by You: The Essential Collection, Love Can Build a Bridge, + more

The Judds were an American country music duo composed of Naomi Judd (born 1946) and her daughter, Wynonna Judd (born 1964). The duo signed to RCA Records in 1983 and released six studio albums ...more

More The Judds 

#41 of 103 The Best Musical Duos #164 of 291 The Top Country Artists of All Time #23 of 158 The Top Female Country Singers

22
Nappy Roots is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky

Albums: Watermelon, Chicken & Gritz, Wooden Leather, The Humdinger, The Pursuit of Nappyness, + more

Nappy Roots is an American alternative Southern rap quartet from Louisville, Kentucky. The group met in Bowling Green, Kentucky in 1995 while attending Western Kentucky University. They are best ...more

More Nappy Roots 

The Best Nappy Roots Songs #85 of 123 The Best Hip Hop Groups of All Time #34 of 44 The Best Country Rappers

23
David "Stringbean&q... is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky
Genre: Country; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Front Porch Funnies

David Akeman (June 17, 1915 – November 10, 1973) better known as Stringbean (or String Bean), was an American singer-songwriter, musician, comedian, actor and semi-professional baseball player ...more

More David "Stringbean" Akeman 

#368 of 526 Which Artist Would You Bring Back From The Dead To Write One More Song? #218 of 815 These Poetic Geniuses Wrote Your Favorite Songs of All Time #158 of 211 The Greatest Classic Country & Western Artists Of All-Time

24
Sam Bush is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky
Genre: Progressive bluegrass and Bluegrass; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Ice Caps, Peaks of Telluride, Hold On, We're Strummin', Laps in Seven, + more

Charles Samuel Bush (born April 13, 1952) is an American mandolinist who is considered an originator of progressive bluegrass music.

More Sam Bush 

#3 of 70 The Greatest Mandolinists of All Time #2 of 58 The Best Mandolinists in the World #29 of 55 The Best Country Singers From Kentucky

25
Rosemary Clooney is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky
Genre: Traditional pop music and Vocal jazz; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Christmas With Rosemary Clooney, A Very Special Christmas With Rosemary Clooney, Irving Berlin's "White Christmas", Brazil, Clap Hands! Here Comes Rosie! / Fancy Meeting You Here, + more

Rosemary Clooney (May 23, 1928 – June 29, 2002) was an American singer and actress. She came to prominence in the early 1950s with the song "Come On-a My House", which was followed by ...more

More Rosemary Clooney 

The Best Rosemary Clooney Albums of All Time #124 of 677 The Best Female Vocalists Ever #366 of 853 The Best Actresses in Film History