100 Greatest Men: The Complete List One of the earliest members of both the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame, Ernest Tubb’s legacy stretches back to the 1940’s, when he became one of country music’s earliest national stars. Hailing from Texas, Tubb was the son of a sharecropper who passed the time listening to Jimmie Rodgers records, which inspired him to take up singing and yodeling. By age nineteen, he was singing on the radio in San Antonio, while digging ditches for the federal government to pay the bills. He wrote Rodgers’s widow, hoping for an autograph, and it started a friendship that motivated her to help Tubb land a recording contract.
100 Greatest Women #60 k.d. lang One of the most unconventional female country stars in history, right down to the all-lowercase name. lang was drawn to country music during college, primarily due to her infatuation with the work of Patsy Cline. She discovered Cline when she had to perform in a stage musical based on the legend’s life, and it led her to a professional music career. She put together a backing band called the Reclines in 1983, and started to play country bars across her native Canada. Two independent albums followed, and she garnered enough exposure to win the Juno award for Most Promising Female Vocalist, the Canadian equivalent of a Grammy. During her acceptance speech, she made a long list of promises for the future, so she could truly call herself the “most promising.”