20 Country Artists Who Are Fam & Belong On Your Playlist
Queer stars are killing the country music game!
While some country musicians try to make LGBTQ+ people feel like we don't belong, the reality couldn't be further from te truth. Sure there are some singers like "small town minded" Jason Aldean and his transphobic wife there are plenty of of other artists in the genre like Maren Morris, who clapped back, saying there's no room for homophobia and transphobia in country music and that those clinging onto it need to change or get out of the way.
"I hate feeling like I need to be the hall monitor of treating people like human beings in country music. It's exhausting," Morris said of her message to Aldean. "But there's a very insidious culture of people feeling very comfortable being transphobic and homophobic and racist, and that they can wrap it in a joke and no one will ever call them out for it. It just becomes normal for people to behave like that."
But Morris isn't alone. In fact, while she's a proud ally, there are plenty of LGBTQ+ country singers and artists out there who aren't only opening doors and breaking barriers, but also putting out some of the best country music today.
Here are 20 of our favorites to add to your playlist today!
Bandi Carlile is, simply put, one of the greatest Americana and country artists of all time. In her career, the lesbian singer has released seven studio albums and been nominated for 18 Grammys, including for solo work, producing and writing for country legend Tanya Tucker, and in the country supergroup The Highwomen with Amanda Shires, Maren Morris, and Natalie Hemby.
One half of country duo The Brothers Osborne, T.J. came out as gay in 2021 and continues to release hits with his band. Since T.J. came out, the band has won its first Grammy for Best Country Duo/Group Performance, and won an Academy of Country Music Award for Vocal Duo of the Year.
Lesbian singer Brandy Clark is a songwriter and artist who was nominated for a Best New Artist Grammy in 2015. Aside from recording her own country songs, she's also written for Miranda Lambert, the Band Perry, Reba McEntire, LeAnn Rimes, Darius Rucker, and Kacey Musgraves.
In 2022, Lily Rose became the first country singer to win the GLAAD Media Award for Breakthrough Music Artist. She's also part of CMT's 2022 class of Next Women of Country.
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One of country music's greatest songwriters and producers is gay. He's produced records like Kacey Musgraves' Same Trailer Different Park and Pageant Material, as well as music for artists like Kelly Clarkson, Kelsea Ballerini, Sam Hunt, Walker Hayes, Old Dominion, and Midland
With his fringed mask and deep voice, Orville Peck delivers slow-burning country ballads that will make any cowboy shed a tear. He's released two albums, Pony and Bronco.
Wright began her country career in the closet, but as her career grew, she decided to come out publicly in 2010 with a memoir and album entitled Lifted Off the Ground. The album dives deep into her coming out process and is one of the most beautiful country albums of the 2010s.
One of the original out country artists was Lavender Country, who was formed in 1972. Their 1973 self-titled album is considered the first known gay-themed country music album. Throughout the years, Patrick Haggerty has been the one constant member of the band, with others like Michael Carr, Eve Morris, and Robert Hammerstrom making up the band's original lineup. They've been releasing new music in recent years.
Paisley Fields (he/him and she/her) had performed under that name for years before adopting it as his own more recently. "I feel like I've grown a lot in the last 10 years performing as Paisley Fields. I feel like I identify more as non-binary and I feel like Paisley is a better name for me. It just feels like it fits more naturally." He's released two albums, Glitter and Sawdust and Electric Park Ballroom.
Payne is the son of guitarist Jody Payne and country singer Sammi Smith. When he came out as gay, and also revealed that when he had been sexually abused by an uncle, he was disowned from his family. He released the album The Drifter in 2004 and has worked on songs with Miranda Lambert, Lee Ann Womack, and more.
RuPaul's Drag Race royalty Trixie Mattel might use over-the-top camp and comedy in her drag, but her country music is also genuinely great. She's released a song with Lavender Country, and did a cover of the Johnny Cash and June Carter hit "Jackson" with Orville Peck.
After trying out for American Idol, Brooke Eden began a career in country music. She's released two EPs, Brooke Eden and Welcome to the Weekend, and released two new songs in 2021 when she also came out as queer and announced her engagment to Hilary Hoover.
Canadian artist Russell has been a member of music groups Po' Girl, Birds of Chicago, and Our Native Daughters before releasing her first solo album Outside Child in 2021. The album was nominated for a Grammy for Best Americana Album and the song "Nightflyer" was nominated for two more Grammys.
Herndon is considered by most to be the first mainstream male country artist to come out as gay when he did so in 2014. Before that, he released ten studio albums from 1995-2022 and has had three number one songs on the Billboard Hot Country Chart: "What Mattered Most," "Living in a Moment," and "It Must Be Love."
In 2000, Gilman became the youngest artist ever to have a top 40 country hit when the then 11-year-old singer's "One Voice" charted in the top twenty. He was also nominated for a Grammy for Best Male Country Vocal Performance for the song. Gilman came out as a young man after he saw country singer Ty Herndon come out in 2014. He then competed on The Voice in 2016, where he was the runner-up.
Grae was on the reality show The Glee Project before breaking into the country music business. She released her first album Break Your Crowns in 2017, and after releasing several singles, put out her second album Confessions of a Good Southern Lady in 2022.
In 2018, Rolling Stone named Pruit as one of "10 New Country Artists You Need to Know." She released her debut album Expectations in 2020. The album explored the intersection of being gay and religious and her song "Loving You" is a self-acceptance anthem about loving who you love no matter what.
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Kiah, who plays the guitar and banjo, has released two solo albums and one EP. She was also a member of Our Native Daughters with Allison Russell. In 2020, she was nominated for a Grammy for Best American Roots Song for "Black Myself."
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Folk, Americana, R&B, and pop come together in singer-songwriter Joy Oladokun's music, which sounds like a modern Joan Armatrading or Tracy Chapman. She's released three studio albums: Carry, In Defense of My Own Happiness (The Beginnings), and In Defense of My Own Happiness.