vote on everything
Music
808 voters

The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky

Updated October 5, 2020 8.5k votes 808 voters 11.5k 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. 

  • 1
    Black Stone Cherry is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky
    309
    89

    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 on Wikipedia

    More Black Stone Cherry 

    #136 of 179 The Best Bands That Are Named After Foods#41 of 80 The Best Southern Rock Bands of All Time

  • 2
    Chris Stapleton is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky
    282
    92

    Chris Stapleton

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

    More Chris Stapleton 

    #2 of 57 The Best New Country Artists#850 of 1,020 The Worst Bands & Musicians of All Time

  • 3
    The Kentucky Headhunters is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky
    189
    65

    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 on Wikipedia
  • 4
    Loretta Lynn is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky
    192
    73

    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 on Wikipedia

    More Loretta Lynn 

    The Best Loretta Lynn Albums of All Time#431 of 739 The Best Singers of All Time

  • 5
    Dwight Yoakam is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky
    169
    72

    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 on Wikipedia

    More Dwight Yoakam 

    The Best Dwight Yoakam Albums of All Time#244 of 542 The Greatest Guitarists Of All Time

  • 6
    Tyler Childers is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky
    Tyler Childers (born June 21, 1991) is an American country music singer and songwriter. He... more on Wikipedia
  • 7
    Bride is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky
    321
    188

    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... more on Wikipedia

    More Bride 

    #67 of 121 The Best '90s Christian Bands & Artists#15 of 55 The Best '90s Christian Rock Bands & Artists

  • 8
    Bill Monroe is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky
    144
    61

    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 on Wikipedia
  • 9
    Sturgill Simpson is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky
    161
    86

    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 on Wikipedia

    More Sturgill Simpson 

    #13 of 23 The Best Rappers & Musicians On Joe Rogan#31 of 329 The Best Americana Bands & Artists of All Time

  • 10
    Cage the Elephant is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky
    168
    96

    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 on Wikipedia

    More Cage the Elephant 

    The Best Cage The Elephant SongsThe Best Cage the Elephant Albums, Ranked

  • 11
    Keith Whitley is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky
    110
    57

    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 on Wikipedia
  • 12
    Montgomery Gentry is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky
    106
    54

    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 on Wikipedia
  • 13
    The Everly Brothers is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky
    112
    62

    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 on Wikipedia

    More The Everly Brothers 

    The Best Everly Brothers Albums of All Time#67 of 279 The Greatest American Rock Bands

  • 14
    The Osborne Brothers is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky

    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 on Wikipedia
  • 15
    John Michael Montgomery is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky

    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 on Wikipedia
  • 16
    My Morning Jacket is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky
    110
    72

    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 on Wikipedia

    More My Morning Jacket 

    The Best My Morning Jacket Songs#837 of 1,728 The Best Rock Bands of All Time

  • 17
    Tom T. Hall is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky
    82
    49

    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 on Wikipedia

    More Tom T. Hall 

    #78 of 215 The Greatest Classic Country & Western Artists Of All-Time#81 of 104 The Best One-Hit Wonders of the 1970s

  • 18
    Patty Loveless is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky
    81
    49

    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 on Wikipedia
  • 19
    Billy Ray Cyrus is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky
    105
    80

    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 on Wikipedia

    More Billy Ray Cyrus 

    #225 of 275 The Hottest Men Of 2020, Ranked#909 of 1,891 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time

  • 20
    David "Stringbean" Akeman is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky

    AlbumsFront Porch Funnies

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

    More David "Stringbean" Akeman 

    #437 of 525 Which Artist Would You Bring Back From The Dead To Write One More Song?#708 of 816 These Poetic Geniuses Wrote Your Favorite Songs of All Time

  • 21
    The Judds is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky
    84
    60

    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... more on Wikipedia

    More The Judds 

    #15 of 158 The Top Female Country Singers#40 of 104 The Best Musical Duos

  • 22
    Nappy Roots is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky
    76
    55

    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 on Wikipedia

    More Nappy Roots 

    The Best Nappy Roots Songs#94 of 123 The Best Hip Hop Groups of All Time

  • 23
    J. D. Crowe is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky
    41
    18

    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 on Wikipedia

    More J. D. Crowe 

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

  • 24
    Merle Travis is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky
    42
    21

    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 on Wikipedia
  • 25
    Sam Bush is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Kentucky
    63
    44

    Sam Bush

    Progressive bluegrass, Bluegrass

    AlbumsIce Caps, Peaks of Telluride, Hold On, We're Strummin', Laps in Seven

    Charles Samuel Bush (born April 13, 1952) is an American mandolinist who is considered an... more on Wikipedia

    More Sam Bush 

    #4 of 70 The Greatest Mandolinists of All Time#2 of 58 The Best Mandolinists in the World

Bands/MusiciansMusicKentuckytop 100