Music
977 voters

The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky

Updated March 8, 2021 9.2k votes 977 voters 18.8k views109 items

List RulesOnly 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. 

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    Chris Stapleton

    Bluegrass, Country
    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, until...  more

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  • 2
    237
    76

    Loretta Lynn

    Honky-tonk, Alternative country

    AlbumsVan Lear Rose, Coal Miner's Daughter, A Country Christmas, Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man

    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 "You Ain't...  more

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  • 3
    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 and...  more

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    #10 of 59 The Best New Country Artists#30 of 59 The Best Country Artists Of 2020, Ranked

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    309
    125

    Black Stone Cherry

    Blues-rock, Rock music

    AlbumsBlack Stone Cherry, Folklore and Superstition, Between the Devil & The Deep Blue Sea, Rock'n'Roll Tape, Rain Wizard EP

    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 John...  more

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    221
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    Sturgill Simpson

    Americana, Alternative country

    AlbumsHigh 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, High...  more

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    209
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    Dwight Yoakam

    Rockabilly, Country rock

    AlbumsBuenas Noches From a Lonely Room, 3 Pears, Come On Christmas, A Long Way Home, If There Was a Way

    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, Yoakam has...  more

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    178
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    Bill Monroe

    Traditional bluegrass, Bluegrass

    AlbumsSouthern 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

    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 commonly...  more

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    193
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    The Kentucky Headhunters

    Country rock, Country

    AlbumsElectric Barnyard, Soul, Pickin' on Nashville, Rave On!!, Big Boss Man

    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 Fred...  more

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    AlbumsKentucky Bluebird, Don't Close Your Eyes, L.A. to Miami, I Wonder Do You Think of Me, Wherever You Are Tonight

    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 charts,...  more

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    #10 of 20 Musicians Who Died of Alcoholism#4 of 15 Country Singers Who Died Young

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    203
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    Cage the Elephant

    Punk blues, Garage rock

    AlbumsThank You, Happy Birthday, Cage the Elephant, Melophobia, Ain't No Rest for the Wicked

    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 Champion, Daniel "Tich"...  more

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    304
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    Bride

    Thrash metal, Progressive metal

    AlbumsShow No Mercy, Snakes in the Playground, Oddities, Silence Is Madness, Kinetic Faith

    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 remains...  more

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    134
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    The Everly Brothers

    Christian music, Rock music

    AlbumsChristmas With The Everly Brothers, The Everly Brothers Sing Great Country Hits, It's Everly Time, Born Yesterday, All-Time Original Hits

    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" Everly (born...  more

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    124
    55

    AlbumsMy Town, Tattoos & Scars, Carrying On, Some People Change, You Do Your Thing

    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 different...  more
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    102
    48

    Tom T. Hall

    Outlaw country, Bluegrass

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

    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 reached the...  more

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    #67 of 215 The Greatest Classic Country & Western Artists Of All-Time#142 of 200 The Best Male Country Singers of All Time

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    130
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    My Morning Jacket

    Heartland rock, Rock music

    AlbumsIt Still Moves, My Morning Jacket Does Xmas Fiasco Style, Z, Circuital, At Dawn

    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

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    AlbumsBluegrass Collection, The Essential Osborne Brothers Collection, Country Bluegrass, When The Roses Bloom In Dixieland, Bluegrass 1956-68

    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 best...  more
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    96
    48

    Patty Loveless

    Country pop, Country rock

    AlbumsBluegrass & White Snow: A Mountain Christmas, Mountain Soul II, Mountain Soul, Only What I Feel, Up Against My Heart

    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

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    AlbumsKickin' It Up, Life's a Dance, John Michael Montgomery, Brand New Me, Leave a Mark

    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 Montgomery...  more
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    The Judds

    Country

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

    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

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    #15 of 161 The Top Female Country Singers#8 of 100 The Best Sister Bands & Musical Groups, Ranked

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    93
    52

    Nappy Roots

    Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop

    AlbumsWatermelon, Chicken & Gritz, Wooden Leather, The Humdinger, The Pursuit of Nappyness

    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

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    54
    17

    J. D. Crowe

    Progressive bluegrass, Bluegrass

    AlbumsJ.D. Crowe & The New South, Blackjack

    James Dee Crowe (born August 27, 1937, in Lexington, Kentucky) is an American banjo player and bluegrass band leader. He first became known during his four-year stint with Jimmy Martin in the 1950s....  more

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    #4 of 99 The Greatest Banjo Players of All Time#5 of 62 The Best Banjo Players in the World

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    AlbumsFront 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 best...  more

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    55
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    Merle Travis

    Americana, Gospel music

    AlbumsThe Merle Travis Guitar, Back Home, The Atkins-Travis Traveling Show, Divorce Me C.O.D. / Missouri, I Am a Pilgrim / Nine Pound Hammer

    Merle Robert Travis (November 29, 1917 – October 20, 1983) was an American country and western singer, songwriter, and guitarist born in Rosewood, Kentucky. His songs' lyrics often discussed both the...  more
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    119
    84

    Billy Ray Cyrus

    Country pop, Country rock

    AlbumsAchy Breaky Heart, Some Gave All, Change My Mind, Time Flies, Storm in the Heartland

    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 Breaky...  more

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    72
    39

    Rosemary Clooney

    Traditional pop music, Vocal jazz

    AlbumsChristmas 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

    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 other pop...  more

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