Brad Paisley has kept the sound of pure country alive while more and more artists move toward a pop-country sound. He’s also the one country artist who’s injected a sense of humor into most of his music, with songs like “Celebrity.” Paisley is an excellent example of what it means to be a country singer – not only sounding great but having a lot of fun doing it.
Martina McBride’s voice continues to be one of the most powerful and distinctive in country music. She hasn’t seemed to have lost a note despite decades of performing country hits. She also gave country music its ultimate female empowerment anthem with “This One’s For The Girls” which still resonates today, nine years after it first came out.
Chris Stapleton has a true country music story, working his way up from years of songwriting for other artists to becoming an award-winning singer in his own right. He’s now one of the standard-bearers for modern country music as both a singer and a songwriter, with brilliantly written songs like “Fire Away.”
Randy Travis is one of the underappreciated greats in country music. He might not have fit into the modern scene, because he didn’t have that big personality or that big hook to his music; he just kept his head down and turned out fantastic straightforward country songs like “Forever and Ever, Amen.” He’s struggled with health issues the last few years, but in 2017 told CNN he was doing “good.”
Blake Shelton is everything music fans want their country singers to be. He’s funny, fun-loving and a good singer – much better than he’s been given credit for, as his almost larger than life personality sometimes overshadows how talented he is. Songs like “Austin” and “God Gave Me You” prove he’s one of the greats.
Garth Brooks will always be one of the best-known country singers, and with good reason. Many of the best country songs ever can be attributed to him like “Friends In Low Places.” Brooks has turned out some fantastic songs, and while he hasn’t quite burned up the charts as much as he used to, he’s racked up more than enough hits for two or three careers.
Faith Hill was one of the crop of female country artists who found wider success turning out big, high-energy songs with more pop hooks. Hits like “The Way You Love Me” were definitely not traditional country. But no matter what she’s singing, Hill has not only a powerful voice but an amazingly clear one. Her sound is distinctive and it’s also captivating.
It seems like every country music awards show has Miranda Lambert on its short list. Lambert took the torch from the legendary female country artists and has blazed a path for modern female singers in the genre, both in terms of sound and style. Without Miranda Lambert and songs like “Over You” the genre would look a lot different, and she continues to get better every year.
Luke Bryan should go down in country music history as one of the all-time greats. That’s because not only is he a great country singer, but he’s a great singer overall. He has a voice that makes any listener melt, and he sings so clearly and with such emotion that it’s hard not to be captivated. Songs like “Spring Breakdown” show he’s amazingly talented.
Waylon Jennings came up with the quintessential country song when he recorded the theme to “The Dukes of Hazzard.” But beyond that, he was a classic storyteller who could spin a song about any kind of love, heartbreak and everything in between. He may not have been much of a showman, but he always knew how to deliver a good song that wasn’t soon forgotten.
Dolly Parton’s voice is instantly recognizable even by people who don’t listen to country music. That’s how great of a singer she is; her sound has transcended the genre. Dolly is a living legend not only for songs like “Jolene” but for how she continues to represent the genre and inspire others. Even at 72, she still has an amazing voice and still represents the best of country.