Country music is one of the great achievements of American culture. Grown from the roots of bluegrass, folk, and blues music, country music stars have created a unique genre of music the whole world has embraced.
The 2000s were a prominent time for country music. So, let’s go through the best 2000s country artists! We’ll include stars who peaked in the 2000s as well as musicians who just started or ended their careers.
Kenny Chesney is the definition of a 2000s country musician. Everyone who wanted to join the country music scene wanted to be just like him—cool and energetic but still true to the music he loves. His over-the-top productions and likable nature endeared him to fans worldwide.
But his album sales prove he was the most successful country music artist of the 2000s. Aside from his Christmas album, all six of his 2000s albums debuted on top of the country charts. None of those albums sold less than a million units each, with some selling more than four million.
Toby Keith grew up living a real blue-collared life. Born in Oklahoma, Keith would become an oil rig worker before his singing was discovered. Keith got his first shot in the industry in the 90s when his hit song “Should’ve Been a Cowboy” became the most played country song of the decade.
After that, the rest was history. Through the 2000s, Keith became one of the most popular country stars. His 2000s albums all debuted in the top 10 on the country charts, and many peaked at number one on the overall charts, as well.
Made up of Gary LeVox, Jay DeMarcus, and Joe Don Rooney, Rascal Flatts has been rocking the country scene since 1999. Since then, they’ve become one of the biggest 2000s country musicians.
Rascal Flatts’ unique sound, influenced by Christian rock and the classic Nashville country sound, is what made their group famous. Too bad they broke up in 2021, but according to group members, they’ll still put on a few shows a year. Hopefully, that’s true!
Beginning his career in the 1990s, Tim McGraw blew up in the late 90s and early 2000s. All five of his albums released in the 2000s reached the top three on the U.S. charts, including two that peaked at number one.
Tim McGraw is best known for his deep lyrics that he sings with a melodic southern pitch. He married Faith Hill, another one of the best 2000s country artists, in 1996. She sings on some of McGraw’s biggest songs, including “Angry All the Time” and “It’s Your Love.”
Keith Urban, A Country Music Musician
Keith Urban is the Australian country musician par excellence. Beginning his career in the 1990s, Urban gained prominence during the 2000s for his album Golden Road, which reached number two on the U.S. country charts.
After that, the rest was history. He’s released eight more studio albums since then, all of which reached at least number two on the country charts. Urban’s music is best known for incorporating Australian pop and rock influences, as well as his simple but honest lyrics.
Faith Hill reached her pinnacle of fame in the mid-2000s. By then, she already had three albums that reached number one on the U.S. music charts, including her hit album, Breathe, in late 1999. Breathe has sold more than eight million copies worldwide since its release.
Hill married Tim McGraw in 1996, and the couple has been a musical force ever since. Hill’s melodic voice has many layers. She has a sweet drawl but also an amazing range she uses to hit beautiful notes.
George Strait is arguably the most successful country artist of any period, let alone the 2000s. When he released his album Strait World in 1981, everyone knew he would become a star. Currently, he has 60 number one singles, the most for any individual artist.
All five of Strait’s 2000s albums reached number one on the U.S. country charts, and four of them sold enough albums to go platinum. His 2001 song “Murder on Music Row” critiqued what he saw as flaws in the country music industry, especially greed.
Carrie Underwood first became a household name after winning season four of American Idol in 2005. Since then, Underwood has grown into the biggest female star in 2000s country music.
In the 2000s, she released three albums, all of which topped the U.S. country charts. Two of her albums, Carnival Rides and Play On, also reached number one on the overall charts. Her debut album, Some Hearts, was the fastest-selling country album to that point.
Brad Paisley has been rocking the country scene since the late 90s, but he became a star in the early 2000s. After the release of his album, Part II, in 2001, Paisley would release six more albums, all of which ranked in the top 10 on the country music charts.
Paisley’s singing is best known for its dry but witty lyrics. His guitar-playing skills are also up to snuff, with his songwriting prowess not far behind. Paisley grew to become one of the biggest country artists of the 2000s because of his relatable lyrics and smooth voice.
Country music fans consider Alan Jackson to be a quiet, bright star. He’s never been one to brag about his accomplishments, even if they’re numerous. Jackson has over 30 number one singles in his career, selling over 80 million albums in that time.
By the 2000s, Jackson was still a household name in country music. All five of his 2000s albums reached number one on U.S. charts. One of his most famous songs of the period was “Where Were You,” which focused on the stunned reaction to the 9/11 attacks.
Willie Nelson, A Country Singer
Willie Nelson is a man of many hats. Whether you enjoy his country, blues, or rock music, everyone has a Willie Nelson song they can put on and enjoy. And that’s one of the biggest reasons he remained a star in the 2000s.
Nelson is one of the most prolific 2000s country singers of all time. Throughout his career, he released more than 72 solo albums, including 16 in the 2000s.
Nelson has been a hero in the country music community for a long time, but his charity efforts in response to the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake made his selflessness widely known.
Garth Brooks is an enigma. Many thought his 2000-2015 hiatus from touring would have killed his career, but it only strengthened it. Even though he wasn’t touring, Brooks still released one studio album, Scarecrow.
Although Brooks wouldn’t return to touring for another 14 years, Scarecrow proved to be a huge success, allowing him to focus on his family. After his family had grown up, he returned to music, allowing him to capitalize on the fame and success of his albums from the 2000s.
Shania Twain is the unchallenged queen of country music in Canada. Although she transitioned into a country-pop singer by the 2000s, that didn’t change her appeal among country music fans.
In 2002, Twain released her most popular album to date, Up! The album debuted at number one on the Billboard charts. The album was a masterpiece that had separate discs for each type of music—country, rock, and dance music.
Miranda Lambert had her start on the reality singing show Nashville Star. Although she didn’t win the competition, she and her music were discovered. After that, she continued to rise. One thing she has on many country stars is she writes or co-writes all of her music.
Lambert is also one of the most widely decorated artists of her generation. She’s won the ACM Female Vocalist of the Year on eight occasions, as well as two Grammys and a total of 13 ACM awards.
Dixie Chicks is arguably the best all-female band of all time, and they’re surely the best all-female country band. Currently consisting of Natalie Maines, Martie Maguire, and Emily Strayer, Dixie Chicks came together in 1989 in Texas.
With their classic Texas drawl, the Chicks rose to fame in the last 90s. Their 1999, 2002, and 2006 albums ranked at number one on the U.S. charts. Each of these albums sold more than 10 million copies, solidifying their place among the best 2000s country artists.
Hank Williams, Jr.
Following in the footsteps of his father, Hank Williams, Jr. reached the pinnacle of his fame in the 80s, but he continued recording for the next 40 years. Although he’s still touring, his most recent popular albums came out in the late 2000s.
Whether you enjoy his older songs like “Good Friends, Good Whiskey, Good Lovin’,” or you prefer his newer tracks, Williams Jr.’s silky smooth voice will make you a fan. His influence is also all over modern country stars such as Kid Rock and Justin Moore.
If Taylor Swift had stuck to country music, she may have ranked higher on this list. The mid-2000s country scene was dominated by Swift. With her sweet, angelic voice, she was able to attract thousands of new fans to join the country bandwagon.
By 2009, she began experimenting with pop music, eventually embracing that genre as her own. But as a 2000s country musician, she captured the attention of millions. Who knows, maybe Swift’s future holds more country tunes!
Jamey Johnson has one of the most recognizable voices in modern country music. His baritone-like voice, paired with his talented guitar playing, makes him appealing to both younger and older country fans.
Johnson began his rise to fame in the 2000s, with the most lucrative portion of his career occurring in the 2010s. His album from 2008, That Lonesome Song, peaked at number 6 on the U.S. country charts. His hit song, “In Color,” came from the album, too.
Brooks & Dunn
Ronnie Dunn and Keith Brooks came together in 1990 to form one of the most formidable duos in country music. Their fame peaked in the mid-2000s when they released their most famous music, such as “Believe” and “Play Something Country.”
Brooks and Dunn are the best-selling country duo of all time. They had over 40 top 10 hits in their career, with 20 of those being number one. They have two Grammy awards and 19 country music awards to their names!
Luke Bryan may have hit the peak of his fame in the 2010s, but he started his ride in the 2000s. In the 2000s, he released two albums, both of which reached number two on the country charts in the U.S.
Bryan’s fans enjoy his music because of his relatable lyrics and positive attitude. According to people who’ve known him forever, Bryan always thinks the best of people. Maybe that’s why he wrote his hit song, “Most People Are Good.”
Although he only released three albums in the 2000s, everyone with a good ear for country music could tell Jason Aldean would become a star. His career began taking off in the 2000s, but he became famous in the 2010s.
So, although many would say Aldean is more of a 2010s star, he never would’ve made it there if not for his 2000s success. His final album in the 2000s, Wide Open, went double platinum. It was a glimpse of all the future success Aldean would have in country music.
Blake Shelton is like one of those football players who never seem to leave the NFL. And although he’s been around forever, you can always count on Shelton to release some great tunes. The 2000s were the years when he perfected his sound.
Shelton began releasing albums in 2001 with his self-entitled album. Every single album Shelton released in the 2000s ranked in the top 10 on the country music charts.
Before becoming a household name in country music, Darius Rucker was the lead singer of Hootie & the Blowfish, a pop-rock band known for their use of the blues.
Rucker must’ve learned a lot during his time singing for them, as he introduced a lot of those concepts into his country music.
Rucker only released two studio country albums in the 2000s, with another coming in late 2010. Two of those albums reached number one on the country charts, with Learn to Live going platinum in the process.
Big & Rich
Big and Rich are most well known for their party song “Save a Horse.” Although the song is a great tune, it doesn’t do the duo justice. Made up of Big Kenny and John Rich, the two country stars teamed up in the late 90s to produce some awesome tunes.
Aside from their most famous song, Big and Rich also put out other great songs such as “Lost in This Moment” and “Holy Water.” When they’re not creating tunes for their band, both singers have successful solo acts.
Travis Tritt is a country music star who’s been around forever. He started releasing music in the late 1980s but found his most consistent string of success in the early 2000s.
From 2000 to 2007, Tritt released four albums, all of which ended up top 10 on the country charts. Most fans like Tritt because of his great songwriting skills. He’s worked with Tim McGraw writing songs on many occasions.
Zac Brown Band
In recent years, Zac Brown Band has blown up to become one of country music’s hottest commodities. So, although their fame is currently peaking, anyone with an ear for country music knew they were rocking it in the 2000s.
The band released two albums in the 2000s with another album in late 2010. Their 2008 album, The Foundation, sold over five million copies. Zac Brown Band may have a modern sound, but they utilize instruments and techniques more common in older music.
Kid Rock has had a controversial career, so why not give him a controversial position on this list? As the country-rock king, Kid Rock has used his genre-bending style to create some of the most recognizable songs from the 2000s.
Whether you like his storytelling in “All Summer Long” or you prefer his twangy voice in the song “Born Free,” Kid Rock has a mega-diverse music catalog. You’ll always be able to find a summer song if you have a Kid Rock album.
Top 2000s Country Artists, Final Thoughts
So, these are the best 2000s country musicians. The 2000s were among the best times for country music, so there are countless artists to choose from. Do you think we missed any of the best country stars?