The journey to becoming a country music legend is never easy. It is wrought with hardship and not every aspiring singer, songwriter or musician has the grit and commitment to make an impact. For every 100 artists who come and go, there’s only a handful that stands out from the pack and leaves their imprint on the great scope of the format.
Classic acts like Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, Reba and Dolly Parton, for instance, built their careers on living by no one’s standards but their own. Their songwriting was often personal and paid homage to those who came before.
But what about today’s current crop of hit-makers? Who could possibly fill their shoes and become legends in their own right 20, 30 or even 40 years from now?
6 Current Country Music Artists Who Will Definitely Ascend to Legendary Status:
As one of “American Idol“s finest finds, she has long surpassed her fourth season title and proven to be one of country’s biggest ambassadors. Her music stretches between pop, rock and traditional country, without compromising the genre’s strong ties to the Opry. Expect songs like “Jesus Take the Wheel,” “Before He Cheats,” “Blown Away” and “Something in the Water” to be covered and talked about for decades to come. Plus, there has never been a more technically proficient (and powerful) singer in history.
She’s a rolling stone, and you can’t slow her down. She built her career on hard work and sheer determination. Sure, she did appear on USA’s now-defunct “Nashville Star,” but she also toiled away on the bar circuit to get her voice heard. She’s developed one of the most honest, grounded and interesting voices in all of country music. Her long-standing classics will included “The House That Built Me,” “Kerosene,” “Gunpowder and Lead,” “Mama’s Broken Heart” and “Over You.”
He is the epitome of the underdog, and America loves an underdog. While radio has largely ignored his more critically-acclaimed work, his music has made an indelible mark on the broader scope of storytelling. His instant classics include “Home,” “What Was I Thinking,” “5-1-5-0,” “Every Mile a Memory” and “Riser,” among numerous others.
A sharp-shooter from Texas, she, too, appeared on “Nashville Star,” but that blip doesn’t measure up to her post-show career so far (she finished in seventh place). Her songwriting is especially gripping as it serves as a rose-colored lens to present the small-town way of life and what it is like to be thrust into the spotlight. Her mainstream career is still in its infancy, but songs like “Merry Go Round” and “Follow Your Arrow” will stand the test of time.
The harmonious four-piece were under-appreciated for years until their superstar breakthrough with 2012’s “Pontoon” and their Tornado LP. They’ve since struck it big, too, with hits like “Day Drinking” and last year’s syrupy waltz, “Girl Crush.” Their signatures also include “Little White Church” and “Boondocks.”
6. Eric Church
He’s the outlier of the bunch, an outlaw you could say. His music often leans into the southern rock side-pocket, but his latest surprise release, Mr. Misunderstood, sees him returning to his country roots. Church classics will undoubtedly include “Springsteen,” “Give Me Back My Hometown,” “Creeping,” “Smoke a Little Smoke” and “Drink in My Hand.”
Image Source: UMG, Jeremy Scott for Country Outfitter