40 Country Stars Who Were Big In The '90s But Have Been Seen Less In The Years Since

It’s fair to say that the 1990s were a memorable time for country music fans. It was, after all, the decade that spawned numerous crossover superstars, such as LeAnn Rimes, Shania Twain and Tim McGraw. But while those singer-songwriters continue to be household names, there are many other ’90s artists who now seem all but forgotten. So, what really happened to the likes of Patty Loveless after the hits faded away?

40. Iris DeMent

Thanks in part to her 1996 hit “Letter to Mom,” Iris DeMent was one of the biggest stars of the decade. And her arguably most famous song, which told the story of a sex abuse survivor, ended up becoming quite the powerful country anthem. However, in the decades that followed, DeMent was unable to replicate her success. So, while she has released music as recently as 2015, she’s no longer as famous as she once was.

39. Aaron Tippin

In 1991 Aaron Tippin’s debut single “You’ve Got to Stand for Something” coincided with the height of the Gulf War, meaning the track quickly became popular among soldiers involved in the conflict. The singer remained popular throughout the ’90s, too – particularly among the working class in the United States. However, Tippin’s star began to fall in the 2000s, and since then he’s been employed both at a power plant and as a flight instructor.

38. Trisha Yearwood

Trisha Yearwood shot to fame with her 1991 single “She’s in Love with the Boy,” which rose to the summit of the Billboard Hot Country chart. The album the song appeared on was a smash, too, going on to sell over two million copies. But although she enjoyed success for much of the ’90s and the ’00s, Yearwood ultimately took a break from music in order to concentrate on different ventures. These included her Emmy Award-winning cooking show Trisha’s Southern Kitchen.

37. Martina McBride


Another ’90s country star who’s since found success as a chef is Martina McBride, who topped the country chart during the decade with her songs “Wrong Again,” “Wild Angels” and “A Broken Wing.” Yes, while McBride continues to perform and release music, she also fronts her own cookery program called Martina’s Table on Food Network.

36. Vince Gill

Vince Gill enjoyed a string of successful albums that showcased his talents as a guitarist in the ’90s. Country fans may remember some of the hits from those records, too – including “I Still Believe In You” and “One More Last Chance.” And while Gill continues to make his own music, he has also toured with the Eagles as their lead vocalist since 2017.

35. Pam Tillis


Having started her career as a demo singer, Pam Tillis’ big break came in 1989 when she signed to the record label Arista Nashville. And the subsequent decade saw a string of top-five tracks for the singer, along with the 1994 number one “Mi Vida Loca (My Crazy Life).” Tillis is still recording, too, and she reportedly has a new album in the pipeline.

34. Diamond Rio

Diamond Rio originally got together in 1982 to perform at Nashville’s Opryland USA theme park. However, it wasn’t until 1991 that the band put out their debut single “Meet in the Middle,” which stormed straight to the top of the Billboard Hot Country chart. And Diamond Rio went on to have four more number ones – their last being in 2003.



While SHeDAISY didn’t enter the country music scene until 1999, the group’s debut album “The Whole SHeBANG” certainly made an impact. Hits came from that record, too, in the shape of “I Will… But,” “This Woman Needs” and “Little Good-Byes.” But the sisters don’t actually seem to have laid down any tracks since 2011, when they covered Linda McCartney’s song “With a Little Luck” for a tribute album.

32. Brooks & Dunn

In 1996 Brooks & Dunn spent three weeks on top of the country chart with their rendition of B.W. Stevenson’s song “My Maria.” In fact, the track ultimately became the year’s most successful country tune. And although the duo may seem to have since left the limelight, they’ve actually enjoyed a further 19 number ones. In 2019 they also took a trip down memory lane, rerecording some of their previous hits alongside contemporary country music stars for their album Reboot.

31. Dixie Chicks


Dixie Chicks were propelled into the spotlight with the success of their 1997 song “I Can Love You Better.” The trio followed that success up the following year, too, with hits “Wide Open Spaces” and “There’s Your Trouble.” In 2003, however, the band courted controversy when they denounced George W. Bush’s involvement in Iraq. And their fortunes consequently took a downturn as a result, although they later returned to touring.

30. Jo Dee Messina

Jo Dee Messina’s eponymous debut album was released in 1996 and featured the standout songs “You’re Not in Kansas Anymore” and “Heads Carolina, Tails California.” However, it was the singer’s second record that proved to be her most successful of the decade, spawning three chart-toppers in “Stand Beside Me”, “I’m Alright” and “Bye, Bye.” And Messina’s career is still going strong to this day. Her 2018 single “Bigger Than This” earned the star critical acclaim within certain circles, in fact.

29. Wade Hayes


In 1994 Wade Hayes stormed to number one with his debut single “Old Enough to Know Better.” And a succession of top ten tracks followed, including “The Day She Left Tulsa (In a Chevy)”, “I’m Still Dancing With You” and “On a Good Night.” In 2011, however, Hayes was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer – a traumatic experience that inspired his song “Is It Already Time.” Thankfully, he started on the road to recovery in 2012 and followed that up by releasing his sixth album in 2017.

28. Paul Brandt

In 1996 Paul Brandt became the first Canadian male artist to earn a top ten single on the Billboard Hot Country chart since 1974. The tune in question, of course, was “My Heart Has a History.” And since then, Brandt has won a number of Canadian Country Music Awards; he still performs for live audiences to boot.

27. George Strait


By the start of the ’90s, George Strait was already a bonafide country star with nine albums to his name. When his tenth record was released in 1990, however, it brought him a pair of number one singles in “I’ve Come to Expect It From You” and “Love Without End, Amen.” Strait enjoyed further success throughout the decade, too, and continues to churn out music. In 2019, in fact, he reached a milestone when 30th album Honky Tonk Time Machine hit stores.

26. Garth Brooks

Garth Brooks entered the ’90s fresh off the back of the success of his 1989 record No Fences. His tracks “What She’s Doing Now” and “The River” – as well as his rendition of Billy Joel’s song “Shameless” – also saw his star rise even further. And Brooks would go on to make history by becoming the first country musician to have three records in the Billboard 200’s top 20 during a single week. Yet while the singer/songwriter isn’t as famous as he used to be, he nevertheless maintains a dedicated fanbase who still pack out stadiums to see him.

25. Sherrié Austin


Sherrié Austin may have come from the land down under, but to begin with it looked as though she could hold her own in the American country music industry. That said, her songs “Lucky in Love” and “Never Been Kissed” never quite fulfilled their chart-topping potential in the 1990s. And the nearest Austin got to a smash hit was in 2003, when “Streets of Heaven” reached number 18.

24. James Bonamy

James Bonamy disappeared from the music business following the release of his second album Roots and Wings in 1997. Prior to that retirement, he’d had a number two hit with his single “I Don’t Think I Will,” which features on his first record What I Live to Do. And since leaving it all behind, Bonamy has turned to religion; he’s now a pastor living in Longview, Texas.

23. Lila McCann


Teenage singing sensation Lila McCann made her debut in the music industry aged just 16. And while her song “Down Came a Blackbird” reached number 28 on the Billboard country chart, her second track “I Wanna Fall in Love” did even better by shooting to number three. McCann’s first LP, Lila, also went platinum, becoming the best-selling album from a new country act in 1997.

22. Shenandoah

Shenandoah enjoyed a series of number one hits with tracks such as “Next to You, Next to Me” and “If Bubba Can Dance (I Can Too)” in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Their 1994 song “Somewhere in the Vicinity of the Heart” even won them a Grammy Award alongside Alison Krauss, who sang with them on the single. And while the Shenandoah line-up has changed over the years, the band are still together today.

21. The Wilkinsons


Brother and sister Amanda and Tyler Wilkinson teamed up with their father, Steve, to form a band in 1997. And just a year later, The Wilkinsons enjoyed success with their song “26 Cents,” which peaked at number five on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country chart and at number one in their native Canada. Amanda and Tyler have since ditched their dad, however, and formed new band Small Town Pistols in 2012.

20. Rick Trevino

In 1993 Rick Trevino’s debut single “Just Enough Rope” was the first ever popular country song to be recorded in both Spanish and English. The singer would go on to have 14 singles climb the Billboard Hot Country chart, too, with his biggest hit coming in 1996. That year, “Running Out of Reasons to Run” went to number one.

19. Lee Ann Womack


When Lee Ann Womack burst onto the music scene in 1997, her style was compared to Tammy Wynette and Dolly Parton. However, Womack’s mix of classic and contemporary country elements not only marked her out from the crowd, but it also earned her a pair of number two singles and the Favorite Country New Artist honor at 1999’s American Music Awards. The following year, Womack released her song “I Hope You Dance,” which remains her biggest hit to date.

18. Suzy Bogguss

With six top ten singles to her name as well as platinum- and gold-certified records, Suzy Bogguss was big news in the first half of the 1990s. But after she took a hiatus from music to focus on her family, she struggled to return to the dizzying heights she’d reached before. Even so, Bogguss continues to perform her music all over the country.

17. Toby Keith


After starting his music career as a busker in Nashville, Toby Keith went on to become one of the biggest country stars of the ’90s. In fact, he produced an impressive five gold-certified records during that decade, with some even going platinum, too. And yet while the ’00s brought a further eight hit albums for Keith, his popularity has since waned.

16. Tracy Lawrence

Tracy Lawrence began performing as a teenager in Arkansas before moving to Nashville to pursue a music career. He subsequently joined Atlantic Records and released his first record Sticks and Stones in 1991. His later records Alibis and Time Marches On also both went double platinum, making them Lawrence’s most lucrative releases. And the star continues to record, with his latest studio album making an appearance in August 2019.

15. Mary Chapin Carpenter


While Mary Chapin Carpenter began making country music in the late 1980s, she didn’t enjoy standout success until the 1992 release of her quadruple platinum album Come On Come On. Carpenter’s music continued to be popular for the remainder of the decade, too, although her work has since become less commercial.

14. Deana Carter

Probably best remembered for her 1996 number one song “Strawberry Wine,” Deanna Carter rose to prominence after her talent was spotted by country music great Willie Nelson. And her debut album proved to be a big hit with audiences, selling over five million copies and going multi-platinum. Carter continues to perform and has also diversified into acting.

13. David Lee Murphy


The year 1995 was a good one for David Lee Murphy, as it saw him release his gold-certified debut album Out with a Bang. The record also yielded three hit singles, including the chart-topping tunes “Dust on the Bottle” and “Party Crowd,” while two further top five hits followed later in the decade. But Murphy had to wait more than 20 years for another number one, which ultimately came with 2018’s “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright.”

12. Tracy Byrd

Tracy Byrd’s breakthrough came in 1993 with the release of his number one single “Holdin’ Heaven.” However, that was just the start of a string of hits throughout the rest of the ’90s, including “Watermelon Crawl” and the popular wedding song “The Keeper of the Stars.” And Byrd closed the decade by releasing his greatest hits, which ultimately went gold.

11. Joe Diffie


Between 1990 and 2004, Joe Diffie had 35 songs scale the Billboard Hot Country chart. Five of these were number ones, including his debut single “Home,” “Third Rock from the Sun” and “Pickup Man.” Behind the scenes, moreover, Diffie has also helped to write songs for fellow country stars Holly Dunn, Jo Dee Messina and Tim McGraw.

10. Kenny Chesney

Throughout the ’90s, Kenny Chesney released five albums – four of which were certified as either gold or platinum. His most successful record of the decade, however, was Everywhere We Go, which dropped in 1999 and featured the catchy tune “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy.” And Chesney continues to release music and tour – although he plays smaller venues rather than stadiums these days.

9. John Michael Montgomery


John Michael Montgomery started performing alongside his sibling Eddie in Montgomery Gentry. However, much to the delight of country fans, he launched a solo career in 1992. And it turned out that Montgomery made the right move, as his songs “I Swear” and “Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident)” became Billboard’s most popular country tunes of ’94 and ’95, respectively. He enjoyed crossover success, too, with several of his songs appearing on the Billboard Hot 100.

8. Trace Adkins

Trace Adkins made his debut on the country music scene in 1996 with his first album Dreamin’ Out Loud. The following year, he also had a number one hit with his song “(This Ain’t) No Thinkin’ Thing” – although this was to be his only chart-topper of the decade. Adkins continues to make music, and you may also have seen him on Hollywood Squares and Celebrity Apprentice.

7. Daryle Singletary


From 1995 to 1998 Daryle Singletary saw five of his tracks scale the Billboard Hot Country chart, with “Amen Kind of Love” and “I Let Her Lie” both peaking at number two. Yet while Singletary continued to release music in the subsequent decades, he failed to replicate the success he’d experienced in the ’90s. And, sadly, the star passed away in 2018 after reportedly suffering from a blood clot.

6. Travis Tritt

The 1990s were a busy time for Travis Tritt, who released six studio albums in that period. During the decade, Tritt also had four Billboard Hot Country number one singles, including “Can I Trust You with My Heart,” “Anymore” and “Help Me Hold On.” And the musician continues to record and gig around the U.S. In recent years, he has even claimed to have experienced paranormal activity at his vacation home.

5. Lee Roy Parnell


Throughout the ’90s, country and blues star Lee Roy Parnell dominated the airwaves with his hits “What Kind of Fool Do You Think I Am,” “Tender Moment” and “On the Road.” The talented musician has also played on a number of tracks by a variety of artists, and in 2019 he was honored with his own line of guitars by instrument makers Gibson.

4. Carlene Carter

As the daughter and stepdaughter of country idols June Carter and Johnny Cash, it was almost inevitable that Carlene Carter would choose music as her calling. And in the 1990s, the singer-songwriter proved herself to be talented in her own right, seeing success with Grammy-nominated song “I Fell in Love” and subsequent hit “Every Little Thing.” Carter continues to write and perform to this day.

3. Lonestar


Country group Lonestar were founded in 1992 and went on to have four chart-topping country singles during the rest of the decade. They included the 1999 hit “Amazed,” which became a crossover success and the first country tune to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart since 1983. And while the Lonestar line-up has varied since bassist John Rich left in 1998, the band have been releasing new music as recently as 2016.

2. Patty Loveless

Patty Loveless topped the country chart three times during the 1990s. We may never have gotten to know her powerful ballads, though, if it hadn’t been for the throat surgery she underwent in 1992. You see, not only did the procedure save her career, but it also improved her voice. Yet despite having sold 15 million records globally, Loveless hasn’t released any solo material since 2009, and she only rarely performs today.

1. Doug Supernaw


In 2017 website Wide Open Country described Doug Supernaw as “one of the most underrated voices in early ’90s country.” And if that name sounds familiar, it’s perhaps because you know the star’s 1993 chart-topper “I Don’t Call Him Daddy” or his top-five single “Reno.” And after taking some time out from music, Supernaw started gigging once more in his native Texas in 2016. Sadly, though, in 2019 he announced to fans that he had cancer in his bladder and lungs.