The top 10 country artists ever have stood the test of time, creating music that appeals across generations. The top 10 country artists ever have created true American popular art, the kind of songs that define what it is to be American, and all of the struggles and triumphs that go along with it. Songs of love, God, murder, drinking, fighting; these are the topics that the top 10 country artists ever have mastered. Here are the top 10 country artists ever:
- Johnny Cash – The Man in Black transcends all boundaries and defeats all comers. As any rock and roll fan who says he doesn't like country; even he'll love Johnny Cash. Johnny Cash tops the list of the 10 best country artists ever because of his wide range of songs, his unique, minimalist style, and his outlaw persona; not to mention a voice that conveys pain and hurt better than any other. From "Folsom Prison Blues" to his cover of Trent Reznor's "Hurt," Johnny Cash built a lasting legacy that will never be topped in country music.
- Hank Williams – Had his life not been cut short way too early, Hank might've topped the list of top 10 country artists ever. He had an unmatched voice and a way with a song, and could sing about cheatin', drinkin', and whorin' around as well as he could about his undying devotion to God. His most haunting song, "Angel of Death," is a beautiful gospel classic.
- Patsy Cline – Another career cut short by tragedy, another immortal voice. Patsy Cline's "Walkin' After Midnight" alone would rank her on any list of top 10 country artists ever; add to that "Crazy," "I Fall to Pieces" and many more and you have another undying legacy.
- Loretta Lynn – The Coal Miner's Daughter is still singing with sex appeal and grit today. Check out her duet with Jack White, "Portland, Oregon," where she shows the new school how it's done.
- George Jones – For pure vocal power, none can top George. He is the Sinatra of country, definitely one of the top 10 country artists ever.
- Merle Haggard – Merle was a rebel at a time when country music didn't want rebels. He gave the scene the shot in the arm it needed with songs like "Okie From Muskogee." He was also an ex-con who sang about prison honestly, bringing a whole new dimension to country tragedy.
- Gram Parsons – If Merle was grit, Gram was glamour, an artsy rock and roller who took to country music naturally. His duets with Emmylou Harris and his work with the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers make him one of the top 10 country artists ever.
- Dwight Yoakam – Dwight is a traditionalist but not needlessly retro. He keeps country real, to this day, when sugar-coated pop his taking over the country airwaves. He's fighting the good fight as one of the top 10 country artists ever, perhaps born a little too late to be a legend but still among the best.
- Lefty Frizzell – Lefty was a tough country old-timer. His gritty voice and songs, aided by a heavy dose of booze, made him one of the top 10 country artists ever.
- Buck Owens – Showman Buck Owens rounds out the list of the 10 best country artists ever. His "Act Naturally" is a clever story-song that doubles as a career manifesto; full of humor, musicality, and just a little bit of attitude.
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