If there's one thing that the country music community has claim to it, it's the fans undying loyalty to their favorite artists, propelling them to decades at the top of their successful careers. Some country music superstars have evolved dramatically throughout the years, but the factor that always remains the same is their rock solid fanbases. These stars made it big when they were young, but that doesn't mean they had juvenile careers!
Let's take a look at where these living country legends got their start, and admire the persistence, passion and patience that pushed them to stardom.
It's nearly impossible to have lived in North America in the 90's without hearing of Shania Twain. The “Queen of Country Pop," who hails from the land of our neighbors to the north, took the world by storm with her infectious voice and smile. At a mere 8 years old, country music's all time highest selling female artist was singing in bars in her native Canada to help her family pay the bills. After years of struggling to balance her music career with family responsibilities, the hitmaker was touring nationally for the first time in 1993 and selling millions of records worldwide.
After finding success in Nashville, Twain had an unfortunate and tragic struggle with lyme disease, leaving her unable to sing or perform for over a decade. But just as expected, this unbreakable woman came back with a bang in 2017, releasing her fifth studio album Now, which debuted at number one on the Billboard 200. Talk about making a re-entrance.
At only 22 years old, Tim McGraw made the life-changing decision to pursue his dream of a career in country music. On a spring day in 1989, McGraw dropped out of college, packed up his things and moved to Nashville. 5 years and 2 studio albums later, Not a Moment Too Soon was the best selling country album of 1995. While McGraw has only progressed from there, his following two albums, All I Want and_ Everywhere_ reached number 1 and 2 respectively on the country album charts. However, his greatest success was still yet to come.
After releasing a greatest hits album in the year 2000, McGraw was lucky enough to go on tour with his wife, the equally acclaimed Faith Hill, on their first ever co-headlining Soul2Soul Tour. With 64 sold out stops, it became the highest grossing country music tour and one of the top US tours of it's time.
Who among us hasn't sang along, and if not at least hummed along, to an Alan Jackson song?
Although he didn't move to Nashville until he was 27, Jackson's love affair with music began with singing in church, and didn't get serious until he formed a band after graduating high school. In the 28 years since this man released his first studio album,_ Here in the Real World_, he has been the recipient of 14 Academy of Country Music Awards, 15 Country Music Association Awards, and 18 Grammy nominations resulting in 2 awards.
When it comes to defining Jackson in terms of country music, dominant is an understatement. Released in 2010, 34 Number Ones gave fans a compilation album of Jackson's hit songs that rose to the coveted top of the chart, an astounding accomplishment. Check out this awesome video of Jackson absolutely rocking “He Stopped Loving Her Today" on an old reality TV show.
Garth Brooks is just about as synonymous with country music as cowboy boots or Wrangler jeans. His 33 year career has yielded 20 number one hit songs, as well as 4 headlining national tours and 14 studio albums. But don't think this two time Grammy winner didn't pay his dues, he played the rounds of bars in his college town of Stillwater, Oklahoma and after graduating, a broader route of the states country bars and clubs. His first album, the self-titled 1989 release, Garth Brooks, was a huge success, peaking at number 2 on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart.
It has been nothing but blue skies for Brooks since, ultimately being determined by the Recording Industry Association of America, RIAA, to be America's third highest-selling artist of the twentieth century, behind only Elvis Presley and The Beatles. Widely regarded as one of the best entertainers of all time, this man revolutionized what it means to be a solo artist in country music over the three decades he's sat atop the genre.
While Taylor is much younger, and newer to the game than her fellow artists who share this list, she is an incredible example of country roots giving way to stability in another genre. Swift has long spoke fondly of her beginnings in Nashville, and publicly thanked the country music community for supporting and accepting her when she decided to pursue pop music.
Even though she was only in her mid-teens at the time, Swift wrote and performed some truly amazing country songs, and let us not forget them. Her debut album, Taylor Swift, featured country hits like “Teardrops on my Guitar" and “Picture to Burn," that were released on her longtime and current label, Nashville based Big Machine.