Few things could capture the essence of America quite like country music. Since its inception, the genre has attracted millions of devoted fans. With so much money surrounding the industry, it’s no wonder some of the most well-known country legends are mega millionaires. Read on to discover the richest country stars in the world, ranked.
25. Ronnie Dunn
Popular music duo Brooks & Dunn first came onto the country music scene in 1991 with the release of their album, Brand New Man. And while both Ronnie Dunn and bandmate Kix Brooks were solo artists before coming together, the fame they earned as a band certainly helped them make a name for themselves.
With a vast list of hits, they’ve earned 28 Academy of Country Music awards, 19 Country Music Association honors, and two Grammys. It seems after all that success, Dunn was ready to do his own thing again, and in 2011 he became a solo artist once more. At 66 years old, he shows no signs of slowing down. The country icon is set to release the solo album Re-Dunn in January 2020.
24. Johnny Cash
Effortlessly iconic, “The Man in Black” was a music legend so influential that he generated an Oscar-winning film about his life. The “Walk the Line” and “Folsom Prison Blues” singer sold over 90 million records around the world, making him one of the all-time best-selling artists in recording history.
Cash launched his music career in Tennessee after growing up to poor cotton farmer parents in Arkansas. His struggle while working on his family’s cotton fields inspired a lot of his songs, which are often written from a place full of sorrow. What’s more, but his humble upbringing also gave him sympathy for the less fortunate.
23. Gary LeVox
Rascal Flatts lead vocalist Gary LeVox developed a love of music at a very early age. With the encouragement of his cousin and future bandmate Jay DeMarcus, he managed to turn his passion into a multi-million dollar career. What started out as humble church performances eventually would become performances for sold-out arenas.
After graduating from Ohio State University, DeMarcus encouraged LeVox to move to Nashville, Tennessee, where the two played in singer Chely Wright’s band. When her guitarist wasn’t available one day, Joe Don Rooney came to fill in for him. The three men could feel the musical chemistry between them, and Rascal Flatts was born.
22. Tanya Tucker
Texas-born Tanya Tucker catapulted to fame at the tender age of 13 following the release of her single, “Delta Dawn.” Her outlaw image and impressive vocal range helped her establish a lucrative career, land an exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame, and earn a number of awards.
Alhough she entered the world of entertainment in 1972, Tucker still succeeds in making waves in the country music scene. She released her latest studio album in 2019, titled While I’m Livin’. Showing off Tucker’s softer side, the album reminisces on her earlier days. The country star boldly remarked to Rolling Stone, “Forty years later, I’m Tanya Tucker. And you’re still hearing from [me].”
21. Blake Shelton
Chart-topping country star Blake Shelton made his music debut with the song “Austin” in 2001. And quite a successful debut it was, remaining at number one on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart for five consecutive weeks. The song also aptly rocketed to platinum.
Good news for Shelton fans: the singer is set to release his 12th album, Fully Loaded: God’s Country on December 13, 2019. The 12-song album includes seven of his previously-recorded singles along with five new hits. Aside from his music, Shelton is well-known as a judge on the reality TV competition, The Voice. He joined the cast at its inception and has remained there throughout all 17 seasons.
20. Loretta Lynn
A trailblazer in country music, Loretta Lynn famously grew up as the daughter of a coal miner in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky. Just several months shy of her 16th birthday, she married Oliver Lynn after knowing him for one month. The two left Kentucky and moved to a logging community in Custer, Washington.
As she dealt with the difficulties of her marriage, she began writing songs. Her husband bought her a guitar for $17, and after teaching herself how to play, she formed her own band, Loretta and the Trailblazers. Kind of sounds like a movie, right? Well, it is. The country star wrote about her life in her best-selling autobiography, Coal Miner’s Daughter, which was then turned into an Academy Award-winning movie.
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19. Keith Urban
The Southern Hemisphere isn’t particularly known for breeding country music stars. Then along came Keith Urban, who beat all odds and came out a wildly-successful country artist. The New Zealand-born singer released his debut self-titled album in Australia in 1991. He also had four charting singles before relocating to the US in 1992.
Before becoming a famous solo artist in America, Urban was a guitarist and started a band called The Ranch, which had two singles reach the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. It wasn’t until 1999 that Urban landed his first solo album in the United States. And with a platinum certification and a number one chart-topping single, it seems it was well worth the wait.
18. Jason Aldean
Country legend Jason Aldean has his father to thank for getting him into music. As a kid, Aldean’s old man would write out guitar chords on a piece of paper for his son to practice. The two would then play together when his father returned home from work.
With his father’s help, Aldean landed gigs performing at local fairs, festivals, and clubs. His audiences loved him. However, after being dropped from two record labels in the years to come, Aldean nearly gave up on his music career. He gave himself six months to get it together. Fast forward five weeks — and he received a deal from Nashville’s Broken Bow Records.
17. Faith Hill
“This Kiss” singer Faith Hill is recognized for her Grammy Award-winning hits and glamorous red carpet looks. But what most don’t know is that the country icon was adopted as a baby and grew up with devout Christian parents in Mississippi. And while she has stated, “I was adopted into this incredible home, a loving, positive environment,” there was more that she wanted.
Yearning for stardom, she dropped out of school at 19, and went to Nashville to become a country singer. She tried her hand at a number of different jobs, selling clothing, working for a music publisher, and even working at McDonald’s. She got her big break in 1993 with her debut album, Take Me as I Am, which helped her become the first female country artist in 30 years to hit number one on Billboard‘s chart for four weeks in a row.
16. Carrie Underwood
Fourth-season American Idol winner Carrie Underwood is considered among the most successful artists in modern American music. With instantly-recognizable hits like “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” “Before He Cheats,” and “Blown Away,” we can say her enormous vocal range has certainly left fans beyond blown away.
And while Idol gave her the platform and exposure she needed to launch a successful music career, it is her undeniable talent that has led to her immense success. Her first album Some Hearts became country music’s best-selling solo women’s debut album ever and the best-selling country album in history. Not to mention, it also earned Underwood three Grammys.
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15. Tim McGraw
One of country music’s highest-selling artists, Tim McGraw has a total of 15 studio albums to his name, ten of which hit number one on the chart for Top Country Albums. The Louisiana-born country legend got his breakthrough in 1994 with the release of Not a Moment Too Soon.
The album became the top country album of the year and set the stage for his later success. His Soul2Soul II tour, which he did alongside his wife Faith Hill, became one of country music’s biggest money-making tours in history. Aside from his music career, McGraw has also tried his hand at acting, taking on supporting roles in films such as Friday Night Lights and The Blind Side.
14. Alan Jackson
Singer-songwriter Alan Jackson didn’t always have money to his name. Far from it: he spent his childhood living with his parents and four sisters in an expanded tool shed owned by his grandfather in Newnan, Georgia. It was a tight squeeze, requiring him to sleep on a mattress in the hallway.
Fast forward a few decades, and Alan Jackson is now a Grammy Award-winning country icon. With 16 studio albums to his name and over 80 million record sales, his influence in the country music genre is so strong he apparently even has a fraction of the Interstate 85 highway named after him!
13. Brad Paisley
Emerging on the music scene in the early 2000s, Brad Paisley has arguably become one of the most distinguished artists in country music. His 11 studio albums have given us 32 top hits on Billboard‘s Top 10 Country Airplay chart and have scored him a number of awards, among them 14 Academy of Country Music and Country Music Association Awards, three Grammys, and two American Music Awards.
Paisley has also written a handful of songs for the Pixar film series, Cars and has released two books: Jug Fishing for Greazy and Other Brad Paisley Fishing Stories and Diary of a Player: How My Musical Heroes Made a Guitar Man Out of Me.
12. Reba McEntire
Recognized for her comedy sitcom Reba, Reba McEntire is more than just a television personality. The Hollywood star grew up singing on local Oklahoma radio channels and at rodeos. After performing the National Anthem at one such rodeo, McEntire impressed country singer Red Steagall.
Steagall brought Reba to Nashville, Tennessee and her career skyrocketed from there. Considered by many to be the “Queen of Country,” McEntire has released 29 albums. 28 of the albums have been certified gold, and 16 of the albums along with 42 of their singles hit number one on country charts. McEntire has even dabbled in the world of Broadway, starring in Annie Get Your Gun in 2001.
11. Linda Ronstadt
Known for her lively stage presence and out-of-this-world vocal range, Linda Ronstadt has enjoyed a musical career spanning more than half a century. And while she has made it onto the list of richest country stars, this isn’t the only genre of music she is recognized for.
Ronstadt is also known for singing rock, opera, and even Latin music. Her album of traditional Mexican tunes, Canciones de Mi Padre, became the most-sold foreign language album in the history of America. In 2012, Ronstadt’s music career came to an unfortunate close when she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, rendering her unable to sing.
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10. Luke Bryan
About two years after releasing his last studio album What Makes You Country, Luke Bryan is reassuring worried fans that a new album is on its way. This marks the first time since the release of his debut album I’ll Stay Me in 2007 that Bryan has gone more than two calendar years without releasing a new album.
The country superstar says he already has some of the material recorded, like the song “Knockin’ Boots,” which became Bryan’s 23rd number one hit single in September 2019. Shortly after this triumph, he released another single from the album, “What She Wants Tonight,” which made it to number 16 on Billboard‘s Country Airplay chart.
9. Kris Kristofferson
A much-beloved Country Music and Songwriters Hall of Famer, Kris Kristofferson has written some of country’s biggest staples like “Help Me Make it Through the Night,” “For the Good Times,” “Me and Bobby McGee,” and “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” which all became hits for other singers.
But in 1985, Kristofferson took on another role in his music career, joining Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Waylon Jennings in starting outlaw country group The Highwaymen. Together, they released three studio albums. Kristofferson has made a name for himself on the big screen, having starred in such seminal films as Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore and A Star is Born.
8. Kenny Chesney
Kenny Chesney first stepped out onto the country music scene in 1994 with the release of his debut album, In My Wildest Dreams. However, it wasn’t until 2002 that he began headlining. In such a short amount of time, he managed to become the genre’s only musician in 25 years to make it onto the Top 10 of Billboard‘s Top Touring Acts.
But that’s not all he has accomplished. Chesney’s 20 studio albums have all reached Gold certification or higher, and he is also the recipient of six Academy of Music awards, nine Country Music Association awards, and four Entertainer of the Year awards. Not bad for someone who started out as the resident performer of a honky tonk bar!
7. Kenny Rogers
Kenny Rogers had quite the eclectic career. Having begun his music career with jazz in the 1950s and then psychedelic rock in the ’60s, he at last landed on country music in the ’70s. Rogers’ most recognizable song is arguably his world-famous 1978 hit, “The Gambler,” which helped him snatch up a well-deserved Grammy two years later.
Aside from his music, Rogers was also an accomplished photographer and published three fine-art photography books: the portrait books Kenny Rogers’ America and Your Friends and Mine and one coffee-table book, This Is My Country. But that’s not all! In 1991, Rogers founded the chicken chain restaurant Kenny Rogers Roasters with KFC’s former CEO.
6. George Strait
Referred to by many as the “King of Country,” George Strait’s love of music developed as a high schooler, when he joined a garage band and played rock n’ roll music. While he was originally inspired by The Beatles, his music preference shifted towards country after listening to live bands in his native Texas.
Hearing the genre caused a shift in Strait’s direction. He joined a country band in college and by 1981, he had signed with his first record label as a solo artist. By the 2000s, Strait was crowned the Academy of Country Music’s Artist of the Decade.
5. Garth Brooks
It takes a musical genius to achieve what Garth Brooks has. By mixing elements of rock and roll, pop, and country, he was crowned America’s highest-selling solo album musician by the Recording Industry Association of America. With 148 million albums sold domestically, Brooks managed to beat out even Elvis Presley!
Not to mention, it has been noted that only The Beatles have managed to beat him for the total number of album sold. Someone this successful must work extremely hard, and that he does: the country star apparently is known to play more than one arena show in a given day.
4. Taylor Swift
Never forget where T. Swift got her start! One of the world’s largest contemporary artists, Taylor Swift was inspired to pursue country music at a young age by talented women in the industry. Shania Twain’s music in particular made her “want to just run around the block four times and daydream about everything.”
As if the adrenaline rush wasn’t enough to convince her, Swift also claimed it was Faith Hill’s documentary that sold her on the need to move away from her home in Pennsylvania and instead go to Nashville, Tennessee to pursue music. It seems her move was the right decision: the singer-songwriter is now a ten-time Grammy Award-winner and one of Rolling Stone’s Greatest Songwriters of all Time.
3. Toby Keith
“Should’ve Been a Cowboy” hit singer Toby Keith first appeared on the country music scene in 1993. This hit became country music’s most-played song of the entire decade, and set the stage for his later success. From his start through to 2000, Keith released one album a year, with over 500,000 copies sold of each.
Keith, like many other artists, has broken into other business ventures since making a name for himself. He started the restaurant franchise I Love This Bar & Grill and even created his own signature drink called the Wild Shot. What’s more, the country superstar started his own clothing line, TK Steelman, and co-founded record label Show Dog Universal.
2. Shania Twain
“Man! I Feel Like a Woman” singer Shania Twain is considered by many to be the “Queen of Country Pop,” and justifiably so. Triumphing over her troubled childhood in Canada, she has reached over 100 million record sales. Shania is country music’s highest-selling female artist and one of the highest-selling musicians ever.
The five-time Grammy Award winner is the recipient of 27 Broadcast Music, Inc. Songwriter Awards and has a star on both Canada and Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. In addition to her music career, Twain has also tried her hand at reality TV as a judge on American Idol. In more recent news, the country legend is starting a new initiative called Shania: Let’s Go!, which sponsors Las Vegas residency for new artists.
1. Dolly Parton
Country music megastar, philanthropist, actress, and America’s fairy godmother Dolly Parton first came onto the music scene in 1962. And while she has had a long time to establish herself as an acclaimed artist and ultimately make it to number one on our list, Parton claims the start of her career wasn’t easy.
In an interview with People, she explained she received a lot of backlash in the beginning for the image she presented to the public. In particular, she claimed people told her she was making “wrong” decisions. The country starlet said in response, “How can I do things wrong when it’s about me? I will know it if it’s wrong.” She’s done plenty of right, continuing to inspire generation after generation with her sunny personality and talent.
26. Honorable Mention: Sam Hunt
Sam Hunt seems like he has red white and blue running through his veins. Growing up in Cedartown, Georgia, Hunt was his high school’s quarterback and even attempted to go pro after playing four years of college ball. When that didn’t work out, Hunt exchanged his football for his guitar and by 2014 the former quarterback had been signed by MCA Nashville.
While his career has been relatively short compared to many other country music stars on this list, Hunt has received significant amount of recognition. His combination of country music with pop and R&B has already earned him a Billboard Music Award and a Grammy Award nomination, along with one American Music Award.
27. Honorable Mention: Jon Pardi
With country music becoming influenced by various, non-related genres (think Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road) Jon Pardi has taken a firm stance in keeping country music true to it’s down-to-earth roots. Since taking to the stage in 2012, Pardi has released three studio albums and 10 singles – 9 of which made it onto the Hot Country Songs and Country Airplay charts.
Considering himself to be a “classic-country torchbearer,” Pardi once described himself in a Rolling Stone article as, “A ghost on the radio.” He also believes that, “Country is becoming such an all-genre thing, and it’s cool and all, but how far are we gonna go before we lose that country style?” Based on his income, it seems that many fans agree with this country music star.
28. Honorable Mention: Chris Stapleton
Before becoming the award winning solo artist that he is today, Chris Stapleton was lead singer for two bands, The SteelDrivers and The Jompson Brothers. After releasing his debut solo album, Traveller, in 2015 Stapleton must’ve known he was destined for success alone; particularly after that album hit number one on the Billboard 200.
Since then, Stapleton has released two more country music albums; From A Room: Volume 1, released May 2017, won him a Country Music Award Album of the Year and a Grammy Award for Best Country Album. His third, From a Room: Volume 2, was released in December 2017 debuted number two on the US Billboard 200.
29. Honorable Mention: Eric Church
Not to put Eric Church on a pedestal, but this country music star has been releasing Billboard topping hits since 2013. Over 13 years of country hits has resulted in singles like “How Bout You,” “Drink in My Hand,” and “Give Me Back My Hometown.”
With a country musical style described by many as “country rock” and “outlaw country,” Church seems to have adopted his personal style to reflect his music. This wealthy country music star could probably buy a crown, but is better known for appearing on stage wearing his trademark aviators and a Von Dutch denim trucker hat.
30. Honorable Mention: Lee Ann Womack
When Lee Ann Womack first emerged on to the country music scene in 1997, she was considered to be the musical evolutionary step forward for country music legends like Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette. Womack had material that resembled these greats, but incorporated modern pop giving it a brand new sound.
By 2005, Womack had abandoned the poppier sounds to her music in favor of a traditional American country music sound. With a constantly evolving sound, her latest music was noted to have had a blend of country and folk. Whatever she’s doing seems to be working, Womack has been awarded with numerous accolades, including a Grammy, and has sold six million albums worldwide.
31. Honorable Mention: Zac Brown
Leading the band on lead vocals and guitar, Zac Brown started the Zac Brown Band back in 2002 which originally consisted of him and two others. Even back in the formative years the band was constantly on the move, performing 200 days out of the year. By 2003, the band gained commercial success with their debut single, “Chicken Fried.”
Since then Zac Brown and the Zac Brown Band have been met with critical and commercial success. They’ve had 16 songs on the Billboard Hot Country Songs and 13 of them have hit number one. Additionally, they’ve been nominated for Grammy Awards nine times since 2010, successfully walking away with three awards.
32. Honorable Mention: Trisha Yearwood
Trisha Yearwood didn’t just earn her massive fortune by playing country music, Yearwood is a woman of many talents. First rising to fame in 1991 with her debut single, “She’s in Love with the Boy,” the country music star went on to produce numerous successful albums and sold over 15 million records worldwide. Not to mention the three Grammy Awards, three Academy of Country Music Awards, and three awards from the Country Music Association.
One might expect that Yearwood would go ahead and rest on her laurels, but that just doesn’t seem to be her style. In spite of being on the biggest names in country music, Yearwood went on to publish three New York Times best selling cookbooks and even began a Food Network series which won a Daytime Emmy.
33. Honorable Mention: Miranda Lambert
Miranda Lambert didn’t have to wait long for the sweet taste of success, two years after finishing third place in the 2003 talent competition Nashville Star, Lambert released her first studio album, Kerosene, which was certified platinum in the United States.
Her second album, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, was released in 2007 to similar success. Three of its singles, “Famous in a Small Town,” “Gunpowder and Lead,” and “More Like Her” peaked at the top 20 of the country music charts. Lambert continues to rake in the profits from her record sales to this day, with her seventh studio album, Wildcard, having just been released in November of 2019.
34. Honorable Mention
Since hitting the music scene in 1984, this Kentucky native has been a familiar name seen on the various country Billboard charts. Before hitting it big, Yoakam would perform his preferred honky-tonk style of music and hip hop and pop concerts, diversifying his music audience. After amassing a large following, Yoakam released his first album, Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. which hit number one on the Billboard charts.
That album was only one of five to hit number one, and in addition to number one albums this honky-tonk star has charted more than thirty singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs. His accolades also include two Grammy Awards and two Academy of Country Music Awards.
35. Honorable Mention
Florida Georgia Line is a country music duo consisting of Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelly. After meeting in 2008 at a Belmont University campus worship group, the two decided that they would give being country music stars a shot, with the condition that if they didn’t succeed within two years they would quit.
By the end of those two years, Florida Georgia Line had already broken two major sales records; their debut single, “Cruise,” was downloaded over seven million times, becoming the best selling digital single, and the first to ever receive a Diamond certification. The two have since released three more albums featuring major stars like Luke Bryan, Tim McGraw, and Jason Derulo.
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