JIMMIE DAVIS (1899 – 2000) was a two-term Louisiana governor and acclaimed country and gospel music artist. His greatest hit, You Are My Sunshine, received a Grammy Hall of Fame Award and was recognized as a “Song of the Century” by the Recording Industry Association of America.
ELLEN MURIEL DEASON (1919), known professionally as KITTY WELLS, had the hit 1952 recording It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels. She was the first female country singer to top U.S. country charts. She continued producing Top 10 hits through the mid-1960s, inspiring a many of female country singers who came to prominence on Wells’ heels.
HANK WILLIAMS (1923 – 1953) is considered to be one of the most influential country artists of all time. He had 11 Number One hits between 1948 and 1953, and his songs have been covered by artists in all music genres. Williams played the guitar but he was unable to read or notate music to any significant degree.
SLIM WHITMAN (1924) is an American country singer known for his yodeling ability. He has sold more than 120 million records worldwide, particularly in the United Kingdom where he was immensely popular in the 1950s. One 1955 single, Rose Marie, made the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest time at No. 1 on UK charts, and that record held more than 30 years.
ELVIS PRESLEY (1935 – 1977) was of the most popular musicians and cultural icons of the 20th century. He began charting No. 1 albums and singles in 1956 and the trend continued and even after his death. He also appeared in 27 movies during the 1960s.
JOHNNY CASH (1932 – 2003) was a singer-songwriter who is revered as one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. While remembered as a country music icon, Cash also delved into rockabilly, rock 'n' roll, blues, folk and gospel. Cash is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Fame and the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.
WEBB PIERCE (1921 – 1991) was one of the most popular honkytonk artists in the 1950s, charting more big hits than anyone in the genre that decade. The West Monroe native’s biggest hit, In The Jailhouse Now, charted for 37 weeks in 1955 and 21 of them were at Number One.
FARON YOUNG (1932 – 1966) was a popular singer and songwriter whose honky tonk songs charted reliably for three decades. Known as the “Hillbilly Heartthrob,” the Shreveport native’s live performance video of It’s Four in the Morning was the first music video to air on Country Music Television when it launched in 1983.
JERRY LEE LEWIS (1935) was one of the pioneers of American rock and roll. Nicknamed “The Killer,” the Ferriday native was known for putting on a flamboyant stage show, often playing his piano with his elbows and his feet. His most well-known hits are Great Balls of Fire and Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.
JIMMY SWAGGART (1935) is a pastor and televangelist who is cousins with fellow Ferriday natives Jerry Lee Lewis and Mickey Gilley. While known for his preaching, Swaggart was offered the opportunity to become a gospel artist with Sun Records when a young Jerry Lee Lewis was very popular and selling many records. Swaggart turned down the offer and began full-time evangelistic work shortly thereafter.
MICKEY GILLEY (1936) started out singing traditional country and western music in the 1970s but he moved to a more pop-friendly sound in the 1980s, which resulted in success on both country and pop charts. The Ferriday native is also known for the former Gilley’s honky tonk nightclub in Pasadena, Texas, which was made world famous by the 1980s Hollywood blockbuster Urban Cowboy.
JOE STAMPLEY (1943) has had more than 60 records to chart in the country genre. The Springhill native charted eight singles in 1976, leading Billboard to name him its “Single Artist of the Year.”
BUZZ BUSBY (1933-2003) was an Eros native who relocated to Washington, D.C., and would eventually be known as the “Father of D.C. Bluegrass.” His bands were highly regarded and played throughout the East Coast, but Busby and his Bayou Boys would return to play the Louisiana Hayride.
COX FAMILY are a bluegrass group hailing from Cotton Valley. Their career got a big boost in the early 1990s when they met Alison Krauss, who was so impressed that she brought them to the attention of Rounder Records. Massive exposure followed when they got the attention of Adam Duritz, the front man for the then-multi-platinum selling Counting Crows. Duritz was so impressed with the group he got them to open for his band on their North American tour. The band has two Grammys among its accolades.
KIX BROOKS (1955) was half of the immensely popular country duet Brooks and Dunn for two decades. The pair sold more than 30 million records and won more Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music awards than any act in history. Brooks is a Shreveport native.
TIM McGRAW (1967) has sold more than 40 million records, making him one of the best selling artists in all genres in history. The Start native had 11 consecutive albums debut at Number One and 21 of his singles reached Number One. He has three Grammys.
TRACE ADKINS (1962) has had more than 20 songs on the country music charts since 1996. Prior to making it in the music industry, the Sarepta native lost his left pinky in an accident working in the oil field. When doctors reattached the severed finger, they did so at an angle at Adkins’ request so he could still use the pinky to play guitar.