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The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky

Updated October 5, 2020 8.9k votes 911 voters 15.3k views103 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. 

  • Chris Stapleton1

    Chris Stapleton

    Bluegrass, Country
    Christopher Alvin Stapleton (born April 15, 1978) is an American singer-songwriter, guitarist,...  more

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  • Loretta Lynn2

    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...  more

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  • Black Stone Cherry3

    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...  more

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  • Tyler Childers4
    Tyler Childers (born June 21, 1991) is an American country music singer and songwriter. He...  more

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  • Dwight Yoakam5

    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...  more

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    The Best Dwight Yoakam Albums of All Time#18 of 291 The Top Country Artists of All Time

  • The Kentucky Headhunters6

    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...  more
  • Sturgill Simpson7

    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...  more

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  • Bill Monroe8

    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,...  more

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    #410 of 603 The Best Rock Vocalists#227 of 265 Rank the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame Inductees

  • Cage the Elephant9

    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....  more

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  • Keith Whitley10

    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....  more

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  • Bride11


    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...  more

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  • Montgomery Gentry12

    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...  more
  • The Everly Brothers13

    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...  more

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  • Tom T. Hall14

    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,...  more

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  • The Osborne Brothers15

    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...  more
  • My Morning Jacket16

    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...  more

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  • John Michael Montgomery17

    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....  more
  • Patty Loveless18

    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...  more

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  • David "Stringbean" Akeman19

    AlbumsFront Porch Funnies

    David Akeman (June 17, 1915 – November 10, 1973) better known as Stringbean (or String Bean),...  more
  • Nappy Roots20

    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...  more

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  • J. D. Crowe21

    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...  more

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    #4 of 99 The Greatest Banjo Players of All Time#7 of 62 The Best Banjo Players in the World

  • The Judds22

    The Judds


    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...  more

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  • Billy Ray Cyrus23

    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...  more

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  • Merle Travis24

    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...  more
  • Rosemary Clooney25

    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...  more

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