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15 Most Popular Country Music Artists According to Gen Xers

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In the music business, you’re only as hot as your next album, but once you get hot, your popularity can skyrocket. As one of the most popular music genres in the world, country music counts some of the biggest music stars ever among its ranks. Names like Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, and Reba McEntire are popular among Generation X, baby boomers, and millennials. 

However, when considering which country music artists are the most popular with Gen X, you turn to YouGov for concrete data. Using YouGov, you can see exactly which artists people born between 1965 and 1980 as part of Gen X think are the most popular country music artists in descending order below. Given that Gen Xers are often the parents of millennials, it’s no surprise there are some shared country music tastes, too. 

Why We’re Covering This

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Country music is one of the most popular music genres in the world.

Country music is a big part of the music space, accounting for hundreds of billions in revenue annually. Brands like Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, and YouTube Music all benefit from country music digital streams, while Walmart and Best Buy look to country music to propel physical disc sales. Given this, it’s no surprise that country music sales can directly affect the success of many brands we regularly cover on 24/7 Wall St. 

15. Naomi Judd

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Naomi Judd and her daughter Wynonna were a wildly popular musical duo.
  • Percentage of millennials with a favorable opinion: 57%

An instantly recognizable name in country music circles, Naomi Judd first shot to fame in the 1980s when she performed a duo act with her daughter Wynonna. The Judds won five Grammy Awards and nine Country Music Association awards before ceasing performances in 1991 due to a medical condition affecting Namoi. Naomi’s fame is remembered through both Wynonna but also through daughter Ashley, herself an actress who has appeared in movie hits like “Kiss the Girls” and “Double Jeopardy”. 

14. Linda Ronstadt

Linda Ronstadt
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Linda Ronstadt had 38 chart-topping singles during her career.
  • Percentage of millennials with a favorable opinion: 58%

Achieving 38 Billboard Hot 100 singles over her career, Linda Ronstadt deserves a place on this list. Collaborating with dozens of artists on over 120 albums, Rondstadt has also recorded and released 26 albums, including ten of which hit the top 10. Ronstadt remained active from the mid-1960s until 2011, when she retired due to medical reasons affecting her ability to perform. 

13. Alabama

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Alabama has sold over 75 million records and counting.
  • Percentage of millennials with a favorable opinion: 59%

Formed in 1969, Alabama is undoubtedly one of the most recognizable names in the country music world. Finding massive success in the 1980s, Alabama had 27 country number-one songs and seven multi-platinum records. The group has sold over 75 million records and has achieved more than 41 number-one country records on the Billboard charts. Alabama has even been credited with popularizing the idea that a music group can find success in the country world. 

12. Carrie Underwood

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Carrie Underwood is the most successful TV show winner of all time.
  • Percentage of millennials with a favorable opinion: 59%

Born just outside the Gen X range, Carrie Underwood was propelled to country music fame after winning the fourth season of American Idol in 2005. The most accomplished TV show winner in music history, Underwood has sold over 85 million records and counting. Winning eight Grammy Awards, 12 Billboard Music Awards, 17 American Music Awards, and five Guinness World Records is no small feat. Still, Carrie Underwood has done everything, including launching her fashion line. 

11. Faith Hill

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Faith Hill shot to stardom during the 1990s.
  • Percentage of millennials with a favorable opinion: 60%

A country music superstar, Faith Hill’s beautiful sound has propelled record sales to over 50 million worldwide. Gen Xers are undoubtedly familiar and love Hill’s first two albums with “Faith” and “Breathe” in 1998 and 1999, respectively.These albums produced some of Hill’s biggest hits, including “Breathe” and “The Way You Love Me,” which earned her three Grammy Awards. Hill has been married to country singer Tim McGraw since 1996.

10. Tim McGraw

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Tim McGraw is a huge country star and popular actor.
  • Percentage of millennials with a favorable opinion: 60%

One of the most recognizable faces on this list in 2024, Tim McGraw is not only a country music superstar but also an actor. With appearances in movies like “The Blind Side,” “Friday Night Lights,” and “Four Christmases,” his acting complements his musical talents. With 25 number one Hot Country Songs to his name, McGraw has sold over 80 million records worldwide since his career started in the early 1990s. 

9. Shania Twain

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Shania Twain has earned the title of “Queen of Country Pop.”
  • Percentage of millennials with a favorable opinion: 61%

The “Queen of Country Pop,” Shania Twain, has accomplished almost everything, making her place on this list completely unsurprising. With over 100 million records sold, Twain is among the best-selling music and country music artists. Her crossover style between country and pop propelled her to stardom during the 1990s with songs like “You’re Still the One,” “From This Moment On,” and “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” 

8. Patsy Cline

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Patsy Cline was one of the first country stars to blend pop music into her work.
  • Percentage of millennials with a favorable opinion: 61%

At a time when country stars often didn’t dare try out other music genres, Patsy Cline bucked the trend. One of the first country stars to cross into pop music, Cline accomplished quite a bit during her eight-year recording career. Her posthumous success has helped make her one of the most influential country stars of the 20th century and the first female performer inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. 

7. Hank Williams

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Hank Williams was hugely influential, and his son followed in his footsteps.
  • Percentage of millennials with a favorable opinion: 62%

One of the most influential American singers, Hank Williams, recorded over 55 singles that reached the top 10 on the Billboard country music charts. This is a very impressive number, considering Williams’ career was relatively short by country music standards. His time in the music industry lasted between 1937 and 1952 before Williams unexpectedly died at age 29. Still, his iconic hits like “Honky Tonkin” and “Lovesick Blues” remain iconic songs Gen Xers still love today. 

6. Loretta Lynn

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Loretta Lynn is the most-awarded female country music artist of all time.
  • Percentage of millennials with a favorable opinion: 65%

Starting her career in the early 1960s, Loretta Lynn is a name familiar to every country music fan. Over six decades, Lynn has been nominated for a Grammy Award 18 times and remains the most-awarded female country recording artist. With 24 number-one singles and 11 number-one albums, Lynn toured for a whopping 57 years before retiring in 2017 after selling 45 million records worldwide.

5. Reba McEntire

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Reba McEntire is the queen of the country thanks to her lengthy career.
  • Percentage of millennials with a favorable opinion: 65%

Growing her fame even more over the past year after appearing as a coach on The Voice on NBC, Reba McEntire once again proved why she is a “Queen of Country.” Selling more than 75 million records since 1975 (and counting), Reba’s career and familiarity with Gen Xers is more than just music. Reba’s appearance on her self-titled show on the WB ran for six seasons, and she has her own restaurant and clothing line. 

4. Kenny Rogers

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Kenny Rogers is popular not just for his country music but also for dabbling in other genres.
  • Percentage of millennials with a favorable opinion: 68%

Selling more than 100 million records during his musical career, Kenny Rogers is one of the best-selling music artists ever. While Rogers is best known for his country style, he also dabbled in jazz, folk, pop, and rock throughout his career. However, “The Gambler” will undoubtedly be remembered as Rogers’s most iconic album, earning him multiple awards. Rogers toured through 2017 before retiring from the music industry. 

3. Willie Nelson

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Willie Nelson has been performing and entertaining crowds for decades.
  • Percentage of millennials with a favorable opinion: 68%

Starting his career in the late 1950s, Willie Nelson is every bit the country music legend. Originally a founding figure of the “outlaw country” subgenre, Nelson has bounced between various record contracts while producing some of the country’s most iconic sounds. There is no question that Nelson’s legacy is well deserved, and it has earned him a place in the Country Music Hall of Fame. Legal troubles notwithstanding, Nelson is one of the few country figures who truly appeals across ages. 

2. Johnny Cash

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Johnny Cash is the “man in black” thanks to his iconic black stage outfits.
  • Percentage of millennials with a favorable opinion: 77%

With an incredibly distinct sound, Johnny Cash is unsurprisingly one of the most popular country artists with Gen Xers. Best known for his singles “I Walk the Line” and “Ring of Fire,” the “Man in Black” has sold a well-deserved 90 million records worldwide. Cash was a different sort of country star, as his all-black stage wardrobe and free prison concerts were unlike anything the rest of the country world had ever seen. 

1. Dolly Parton

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Dolly Parton has one of the most prolific careers in country music history.
  • Percentage of millennials with a favorable opinion: 81%

It won’t surprise anyone to learn that Dolly Parton is the most popular country music artist with Gen X. As someone who crosses over into multiple generations, Dolly Parton is every bit the country music legend. With 50 Grammy nominations, 100 million records sold, and a theme park that bears her name, Dolly Parton can easily say she has done it all. Best of all, she’s not slowing down as Dolly continues to perform and stay involved with her many charity projects. 

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