When it comes to musical styles, no genre is as popular as country. Since its development in the early 20th century, it has enjoyed a constantly devoted fan base and remains a staple of U.S. airwaves to this day. In fact, almost 100 years after its birth, American radio audiences still listen to country more than any other genre. Naturally, country’s flagship stars have reaped considerable commercial success and gained longevity to rival that of any other style. And while these 20 faces may have changed a lot since their first tastes of fame, their appeal is still as strong ever.
20. Dolly Parton
It’s not often that a singer is beloved enough that they open their own theme park. But Dolly Parton, who rose to fame in the ’70s with hits like “Jolene,” is indeed such a star. Besides opening Dollywood in 1986, Parton has appeared in movies like 9 to 5, and she recently earned her eighth Grammy.
19. Willie Nelson
With his unique brand of outlaw country, Willie Nelson had difficulty finding an audience in his early days. Indeed, it wasn’t until 1975’s Red Headed Stranger that the star, then 15 years into his career, hit the big time. Now 83, Nelson is still going strong. Indeed, he’ll release his 61st studio album God’s Problem Child later this month.