Great music can be found across the US, but we often give the majority of credit to places like New York City, Los Angeles, and Nashville. Like actors, the best known musicians from each state may have migrated to media hubs to chase their dreams, but there is only one place they will ever call home.
Some of these singers were born in the state that helped to define them, while others moved there as young children. All of these musicians were influenced by the state in which they grew up. We can hear the Seattle grunge scene in Kurt Cobain’s music and feel the hippie San Francisco vibe in the melodies of Jerry Garcia.
Check out all 50 singers by American states. Then make your voice heard. Which musician do you think represents their home state the best?
Johnny Cash was born in 1932 in Kingsland, AR. The "Walk the Line" singer grew up during the Great Depression and began working in cotton fields at a young age. Cash began writing songs at the age of 12, and many of his tunes were about the hardships of his life in Arkansas.
Elvis Presley was born in 1935 in Tupelo, MS. He was raised in a religious household, and like many musicians, sang regularly in church, a place where Gospel became very important to him. The "Heartbreak Hotel" vocalist got his first guitar at the age of 11. Today, the singer is considered one of the pioneers of rock music and is often called the "King of Rock and Roll."
Prince Rogers Nelson was born in 1958 in Minneapolis, MN. The "Purple Rain" singer taught himself how to play the drums, guitar, and piano at a very young age. He went on to become one of the most successful artists of the 1980s and ultimately a music legend. While most big-time musicians eventually leave their hometown for New York City or Los Angeles, Prince never abandoned his Minnesota roots.
Prince's close friend Nik West talked about Prince's connection with Minnesota:
"He said Minneapolis raised him... [moving]will never happen," she said. " He would say, 'I'm never leaving... there's a legacy here for me' He was just all about just being who he was - being at home."
Michael Jackson was born in Gary, IN in 1958. Success came early for Jackson and his brothers when they formed the Motown group The Jackson 5. Of course, Michael would go on to be known as the "King of Pop" with monster hits like "Thriller," "Beat It," and "Man in the Mirror." He is widely considered the most successful entertainer of all time.
Dolly Parton was born in 1946 in Locust Ridge, TN. The "Jolene" singer was one of 12 children and grew up very poor. She got her first exposure to music singing at her local church. Parton is considered one of the most successful country artists of all time with tremendous crossover appeal. She has had 25 Number 1 hits and has won 11 Grammy Awards.
Tom Petty was born in 1950 in Gainesville, FL. The "American Girl" singer became completely obsessed with rock music while a teenager in the Sunshine State and even dropped out of high school to be in a band. Working as both a solo artist and with his band, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, the rocker is one of the best-selling music artists of all time.
Kurt Cobain was born in 1976 in Aberdeen, WA. The "Smells Like Teen Spirit" singer learned how to play piano by ear and had an early love of music. Cobain formed the grunge band Nirvana in the late 1980s, and the power trio released their first studio album, In Utero, in 1993. There are few bands in music who are so fundamentally tied to building a local sound like Nirvana was to the Seattle grunge scene in the 1990s.
Stevie Wonder was born in Saginaw, MI in 1950. The musical prodigy was discovered at the age of 11 years old and signed to a recording deal with Motown Records. In the 1960s, Wonder became a defining player in developing the Detroit-based Motown sound with mega hits like "My Cherie Amour" and "For Once in My Life."
Bruce Springsteen was born in 1949 in Long Branch, NJ. "The Boss" got an early start as a teenager playing in local bars across the Garden State, especially in the highly regarded music scene in Asbury Park. The "Born to Run" singer assembled the members of the E Street Band in Jersey and began his career writing anthems for blue-collar America. Springsteen is one of the best selling musicians of all time and has won 23 Grammy Awards.
Billy Joel was born in 1949 in the Bronx, NY. His father was a trained pianist and Joel was pushed by his mother to take lessons as a very young boy. By the time the "Piano Man" was a teenager, he had mastered the instrument and was starting various rock bands. Joel has gone on to become one of the most successful pop-rock singer-songwriters of all time. His home state is well-represented in his music with songs like "New York State of Mind" and "Miami 2017."
Chuck Berry was born in 1926 in St. Louis, MO. He got his start in music at both church and school. The "Johnny B. Goode" singer first delighted audiences at a school talent show. Berry learned how to play the guitar and ultimately became one of the pioneers of rock music.
Bruno Mars was born in 1985 in Honolulu, HI. The Grammy-winning "Uptown Funk" singer grew up in an extremely musical family. Mars learned how to play several instruments as a young child. He performed in Waikiki Beach alongside his family in a Las Vegas-style revue that featured celebrity impersonations and played Motown hits.
James Brown was born in 1933 in Barnwell, SC. The singer grew up very poor during the Great Depression and even got kicked out of school at the age of 12 for "insufficient clothing." Brown sang in the church choir where he would find the voice that would eventually lead to the moniker "the Godfather of Soul." The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer is considered one of the most influential musicians of all time.
Arizona - Alice Cooper
Vincent Damon Furnier was born in 1948 in Detroit, MI. The "School's Out" singer, who eventually became known as Alice Cooper, moved to Arizona when he was 12 years old and soon started playing in the local bar scene. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer is often referred to as "The Godfather of Shock Rock."
Garth Brooks was born in 1962 in Tulsa, OK. The "Thunder Rolls" singer honed his craft by singing in local bars while attending Oklahoma State University. Few country artists have experienced the crossover success to pop star quite like Brooks, who has sold over 100 million albums worldwide.
Patsy Cline was born in 1932 in Winchester, VA. The "Crazy" singer is often cited as a pioneer in women's music who helped breakdown the gender divide, especially in country music. Cline started singing at a young age and taught herself how to play the piano at eight years old. She found early success as a teenager, performing in local singing competitions and on the radio. In the 1960s, the smooth-voiced Cline found tremendous crossover success with her hits "I Fall to Pieces" and "Crazy."
Loretta Lynn was born in 1932 in Butcher Hollow, KY. She was raised in a small cabin and grew up in a poor coal mining community. She started singing at a young age at her local church. The "Coal Miner's Daughter" singer has sold almost 50 million albums world wide and in 2013, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama.
John Denver was born in 1943 in Roswell, NM. The folk singer got his first guitar as a teenager as a gift from his grandmother. Denver had his initial success in music when the folk group Peter, Paul and Mary recorded a song he wrote called, "Leaving on a Jet Plane." The singer-songwriter catapulted into the mainstream with his 1970s hits "Take Me Home, Country Roads" and "Rocky Mountain High."
Steven Miller was born in 1943 in Milwaukee, WI. Both of Miller's parents were entrenched in the jazz scene, and the singer credits his father's friendships with Les Paul and T-Bone Walker as having a great impact on his love of music. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer formed the Steve Miller Band in 1966 and found incredible success with hit singles like "The Joker" and "Fly Like an Eagle."
Jewel may have been born in Utah, however, the singer-songwriter moved to Alaska shortly after her birth. She was raised in Homer, AK, and often performed around town with her musician father. The "You Were Meant for Me" singer grew up roughing it in Alaska, going without indoor plumbing, running water, or heat for much of her youth.
George Thorogood was born in 1950 in Wilmington, DE. The "I Drink Alone" singer formed a band with his high school pal, a drummer named Jeff Simon. They named the rock band after their home state, the Delaware Destroyers.
Brad Paisley was born in 1972 in Glen Dale, WV. The singer-songwriter had an early love of music and started learning how to play the guitar at eight years old. The "She's Everything" vocalist formed a band at 12 and started playing around West Virginia in church and civic meetings. He found immediate success with his 1999 debut album Who Needs Pictures. Since then, the country music star has sold over ten million albums and has three Grammy Awards.
Britney Spears was born in 1981 in Mississippi but moved to Kentwood, LA by the age of three. The "...Baby One More Time" vocalist started performing as a singer, dancer, and actress since she could walk. Spears found her first taste of fame as a Mousketeer at the age 11. Pop super stardom followed as Spears dominated the music charts for most of the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Frank Zappa was born in 1940 in Baltimore, MD. The self-taught musician has played in a variety of different genres from rock to jazz; much of his music could easily be described as avant-garde due to his genre-bending. The "Muffin Man" singer was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995 and won a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997.
Taylor Swift was born in 1989 in Reading, PA. The "Love Story" singer started singing in local contests and state fairs at an early age - she even sang the National Anthem at a Philadelphia 76ers basketball game when she was only 11 years old. Swift has proved to have massive crossover appeal for both country music and pop fans. The singer-songwriter has already sold over 40 million albums and has ten Grammy Awards.