In this day and age, teenagers are glued to their iPhones, worried about the latest fashion trends, and the latest Internet craze. It also seems that teenagers’ taste in music has gone further and further away from country music and more towards pop and electronica.
For country music fans that are parents of teenagers, this must be hard to watch. Luckily for you, we’ve compiled a list of country singers you must introduce to your kids. These eleven legendary singers have helped shape country music, and we’re sure you know who they are, but it’s time that your kids do too!
11. Johnny Cash
Even though Johnny Cash passed away in 2003, his music is timeless. Also known as The Man in Black because that’s pretty much the only color he wore, Cash sang about prison and a rough life, even though he had never been locked up. His music is perfect for your rebellious teen who still doesn’t want to disappoint their parents. And who doesn’t love a bold fashion statement?
10. Merle Haggard
The recently passed Merle Haggard sang what he wrote and wrote what he knew, which was prison. Johnny Cash always called him “the man everyone thinks I am”. Haggard spent a lot of his youth behind bars and escaped many, many times. He was sent to San Quentin Prison and eventually saw Cash perform, which inspired him to pursue a country music career.
One of Haggard’s most famous song, “Mama Tried”, is about the pain and suffering he caused his mother by getting arrested. His music will teach your teens to keep on the straight and narrow, because he’s seen how bad it gets.
9. Tammy Wynette
Known to country music fans as The First Lady of Country Music, Tammy Wynette is one of the best-selling women in country music. Her signature songs are set around themes of loneliness, divorce and the difficulties of life and relationships, all things that are relatable, especially now in the 21st century.
She also teaches us a good lesson that even though you may be divorced from someone, you can still maintain a great relationship with them. Wynette was married to country legend George Jones and after their divorce, they continued to record duets together for years to come.
8. George Jones
Not only is George Jones one of the best country music singers the genre has ever seen, his signature song is considered the best country song of all time. His career spanned over 60 years and he performed right up until his 2013 death.
“He Stopped Loving her Today” is widely considered the best country song there ever was, but when Jones first heard it, he hated it and did not want to record it. He thought it was too long, too slow and too sad for his audience. He begrudgingly recorded it and it became a huge success! It won him a Grammy and several other awards.
Besides being introduced to the greatness that is The Possum, your teens can learn that sometimes they have to do things they might not want to do, but in the end, it’ll all be worth it.
7. Dolly Parton
You teens might know who Dolly Parton is because she is still putting music out and touring, but they may not know that she was the person to originally release the Whitney Houston hit “I Will Always Love You.”
Parton’s version was not actually about a romantic relationship, but about ending her professional relationship with Porter Wagoner, who gave her her start in country music. Your teen will love her version of this iconic song and will love the story about it.
6. Willie Nelson
Your teen will love Willie Nelson because he is unapologetically true to himself at all times. Sure, he smokes marijuana, which may not be the best role model for your kids, but he has never conformed to what other people want him to be or look like. His long hair and rugged look are a testament to that.
His story will also teach your kids about persistence. When he first came to Nashville, he was a songwriter and after many years of that, he finally released his debut album, and the rest is history. As much of an outlaw persona as he projects, he is a family man, and performs as Willie Nelson and Family on many, many occasions.
5. George Strait
We couldn’t make this list without having The King of Country on it! George Strait’s songs are so pure and so legendary. Your kids will relate to his song “Check Yes or No” from writing notes to their crushes in elementary school and seeing if they like them back or not.
His songs tell stories of love, loss, family, and boy, does he know how to dress well. Rarely seen without a button down shirt tightly tucked into his jeans and belts or a cowboy hat, Strait is a traditionalist to his core. He has never faltered from his squeaky clean image and doesn’t plan to change his style of music, even though country radio will no not play his new music. Another lesson on staying true to yourself!
4. Patsy Cline
Through her short career, Patsy Cline quickly became one of the best vocalists in the 20th century. She passed away tragically in 1963 in a plane crash after merging on to the scene in 1957.
Behind Jones’ “He Stopped Loving her Today”, Cline’s hit “Crazy” is considered one of the best country songs of all time. Coincidentally, it was written by Willie Nelson when he was starting out as a songwriter.
You should introduce your teen to Patsy Cline because of her incredible voice and the fact that in an industry dominated by men, she came out on top multiple times.
3. Loretta Lynn
Like Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn broke down barriers, but after they were broken, she kept on running.
Lynn was brutally honest in her songs, just like Merle Haggard. She wrote what she experienced, and she experienced some messed up things. Her signature song is “Coal Miner’s Daughter”, but she wasn’t afraid to call out women who were eyeing her husband with songs like “Fist City” or “You Ain’t Woman Enough To Take My Man”.
Your teens will love Loretta for her feisty attitude and even more for her incredible music.
2. Conway Twitty
In his later years, Conway Twitty may not look swoon-worthy to your teenagers, but just show them footage of him performing during the late 50s! His voice was Elvis-esque and his signature growl will make you go weak at the knees!
Just show them this video of him performing his breakout single “It’s Only Make Believe” and they’ll understand why he was such a heartthrob! I mean, they did base the Bye Bye Birdie character Conrad Birdie after him!
1. Hank Williams
There’s a chance your teenager has heard a Hank Williams song, and just didn’t know it. He was one of the most influential songwriters of his time and penned hits including “I Saw The Light”, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” and “Hey Good Lookin'”.
Besides having his music covered by countless artists, if your teen watches the Netflix hit show Orange Is The New Black, they might recognize “I Saw The Light” from the Season 1 finale, where the inmates sing it during their Christmas skit.
Which country singer are you now dying to introduce to your teenager?! Which one is your favorite?! Sound off in the comments.