The number 1 rookie country fan assumption? That all artists hail from the south.
Although southern themes manifest themselves quite often throughout the genre, country is a mindset and way of life, not a specific region of the country. And there sure are plenty of country folk here in our great state of Illinois.
You may be surprised to know that there are tons of chart-topping country artists that were born and raised here in the land of the Lincoln. Here’s a list of 9 of our favorites, and why we love them.
1. Brett Eldredge
Hometown: Paris, IL
Top Songs: “Don’t Ya” / “Drunk on Your Love” / “Mean to Me”
Why We Love Him: Brett, who titled his most recent album after our great state, has one of the most unique voices on country radio. He continues to release hit after hit. Also, he’s hilarious (if you don’t follow him on Snapchat, you’re missing out).
2. Alison Krauss
Hometown: Champaign, IL
Top Songs: “When You Say Nothing At All” / “Down to the River to Pray”
Why We Love Her: This bluegrass/country legend truly has the voice of an angel. You may also remember her from Brad Paisley’s “Whiskey Lullaby.”
3. Gretchen Wilson
Hometown: Pocahontas, IL
Top Songs: “Redneck Woman” / “Here for the Party”
Why We Love Her: “Redneck Woman” may be one of the best country girl anthems of all time. Thanks for showing people that rednecks aren’t just born and raised in the southern states, Gretchen.
4. The Henningsens
Hometown: Atwood, IL
Top Songs: “American Beautiful” / “I Miss You” / “Why I Farm”
Why We Love Them: The Henningsens’ tunes are pure country down to the core. Their harmonies are seamless, probably because this trio (made up of a father, daughter and son) has been singing together their whole lives. Fun fact: They co-wrote The Band Perry’s “All My Life” and “You Lie.”
5. Mo Pitney
Hometown: Cherry Valley, IL
Top Songs: “Boy & a Girl Thing” / “Country”
Why We Love Him: Mo is helping to bring traditional country back to mainstream radio. His highly-anticipated debut album, Behind this Guitar, is releasing this October.
6. Elizabeth Lyons
Hometown: Winnetka, IL
Top Songs: “I’ve Never” / “#PartyRules” / “Luke Bryan”
Why We Love Her: If you like pop country, you will love Elizabeth, who is as sweet as they come. From Summerfest in Milwaukee to our very own Joe’s Bar, this Vanderbilt Graduate has played some of the hottest country venues. Plus, she has a song about how awesome the Midwest is (“Made in the Midwest”), which we dig.
7. Drew Baldridge
Hometown: Patoka, IL
Top Songs: “Dance with Ya” / “Rebound” / “Burnt Toast”
Why We Love Him: After touring the country playing dive bars for many years, this road warrior is finally hitting it big. His smooth vocals and southern Illinois twang combined with his catchy lyrics make for radio-ready hits that will leave your ears craving more. Also, Drew recently made his Grand Ole Opry debut. Can’t wait to see what the future holds for this central Illinois country boy.
8. David Lee Murphy
Hometown: Herrin, IL
Top Songs: “Dust on the Bottle” / “Party Crowd”
Why We Love Him: It doesn’t get much better than belting out “Dust on the Bottle” in a country bar. Murphy has also penned hits for other artists like Jason Aldean’s “Big Green Tractor” and Jake Owen’s “Anywhere With You.”
9. Suzy Bogguss
Hometown: Aledo, IL
Top Songs: “Someday Soon” / “Letting Go”
Why We Love Her: She helped put Illinois native country artists on the map back in the 90s and continues to tour extensively.