If you’ve ever wondered what your favorite country singers looked like as kids, we’ve done the work for you and rounded up an impressive photo lineup that is sure to make you smile.
See pictures of 28 of your favorite country stars as kids!
This list covers classic country artists to modern hitmakers when they were knee-high to a grasshopper. You’ll see that some of these kiddos showed signs of stardom long before they made an impact on country music. Enjoy this peek into the childhoods of some of the biggest stars of country music.
1. TRISHA YEARWOOD
Trisha Yearwood was born in Monticello, Georgia, in 1964. The future star and daughter of Gwendolyn, a school teacher, and Jack, a banker, was passionate about music from an early age. She often showed off her talent through local school and community events such as musicals, church functions and talent shows.
2. GEORGE STRAIT
The future King of Country was born in Poteet, Texas, in 1952. He grew up in a nearby town where his father taught math and owned a cattle ranch. George Strait started singing publicly while attending Pearsall High School as part of a garage band that was anything but country. Strait once said that the band was mostly influenced by the Beatles. But, his passion turned to country music after hearing other local bands. George officially got his country music start when he joined the Army and was a part of an Army-sponsored band named “Rambling Country.”
3. MORGAN WALLEN
Morgan Wallen was born in Sneedville, Tennessee, in 1993, the son of a pastor and a teacher. Wallen was a standout baseball player throughout high school, but an injury sidelined any hopes of a college baseball career. After graduation Morgan worked as a landscaper and began learning guitar. He made his national stage debut on Season 6 of ‘The Voice’ after his mom signed him up for an audition.
4. WYNONNA JUDD
Wynonna Judd was born Christina Claire Ciminella in Ashland, Kentucky, in 1964. Inspired by the country music her mom enjoyed, the youngster taught herself to play guitar. When she was 15, her mom, then named Diana, moved the family to Nashville so they could pursue a career in country music. There Diana changed her name to Naomi, and Christina became Wynonna.
5. SHANIA TWAIN
Shania Twain was born Eilleen Regina Edwards in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, in 1965. She began singing in bars at the age of 8 to help pay the family’s bills. After graduating high school, Shania continued singing while raising her siblings upon her parents’ deaths in 1987. After her siblings were grown and moved out on their own, Shania sent a demo tape to several Nashville labels, eventually being offered her first record deal by Mercury Nashville.
6. LAINEY WILSON
Lainey Wilson was raised in the tiny Louisiana town of Basking. The daughter of a farmer and a teacher, Lainey’s passion for music was evident from an early age. She began writing songs in her teens and became a Hannah Montana impersonator in high school. Upon graduation, Wilson moved to Nashville where she survived several “difficult” years before earning a record deal.
7. REBA MCENTIRE
Reba McEntire was born in 1955 in McAlester, Oklahoma. The third of four kids, Reba and her siblings were taught to sing by their mom as a way to keep them entertained on car rides. Reba started performing in grade school with one of her first public performances being at a Christmas play where she sang “Away in a Manger.” Reba got her big break years later after someone heard her sing the national anthem at the National Finals Rodeo.
8. BLAKE SHELTON
Oklahoma native Blake Shelton was born in 1976. He began singing as a kid and had learned to play guitar by age 12. He graduated high school at 17 and immediately moved to Nashville to pursue his dream of being a country singer. He signed a record deal within a few years.
9. KANE BROWN
Kane Brown was raised near Chattanooga, Tennessee, in 1993. He grew up listening to R & B, but turned his affection toward country music after winning a high school talent contest singing Chris Young’s “Gettin’ You Home.” He went to school with Idol alum Lauren Alaina, and auditioned for the show himself after her success. He didn’t make the American Idol cut, but was chosen to compete on X Factor. Brown walked away from X Factor after producers wanted to make him part of a boy band. Kane instead started posting videos of himself singing cover songs on YouTube. He gained a massive following that eventually led to him earning a record deal.
10. ALAN JACKSON
Alan Jackson was born and raised in Newnan, Georgia. After graduating high school, Jackson joined a country band called Dixie Steel. At the age of 27, he and his wife of 6 years, Denise, moved to Nashville. Alan worked in the mailroom of The Nashville Network, while Denise worked as a flight attendant. Denise encountered Glen Campbell on a flight and asked for career advice for Alan. Campbell gave her his manager’s phone number and told her to give him a call. This chance meeting jumpstarted Alan Jackson’s country music career.
11. KELLIE PICKLER
Kellie Pickler was born June 28, 1986, in Albemarle, North Carolina. She was raised by her grandparents after her mother abandoned her at 2 years old. At 19, Kellie auditioned for American Idol, ultimately placing 6th on the show’s fifth season.
12. LORETTA LYNN
Loretta Lynn was born in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky, in 1932. She was named after movie star Loretta Young. Loretta got married at age 15, just one month after meeting Oliver “Doolittle” Lynn. Doo bought Loretta her first guitar and she taught herself to play. He encouraged her to start her own band, so Loretta and the Trailblazers began performing at local clubs. She was signed to a record deal shortly after and went on to become one of country music’s most iconic and treasured female artists.
13. HANK WILLIAMS JR.
Randall Hank Williams was born in 1949 in Shreveport, Louisiana. His father, Hank Williams, nicknamed him Bocephus, a name that fans still call him today. His father died when he was only 4, so Hank Jr. was raised by his mother, Audrey. After his father’s death, numerous stars visited him family home and heavily influenced him by teaching him instruments and different musical styles. Some of those who invested in Hank Jr. were Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Earl Scruggs and Jerry Lee Lewis. Hank Jr. first performed on stage at the age of 8.
14. JOHNNY CASH
Arkansas native J.R. Cash was born in 1932, the middle child of seven born to Carrie and Ray Cash. Carrie wanted to name him John, but his father wanted to call him Ray. They compromised and named him J.R. But, when Cash joined the Air Force he wasn’t allowed to use initials, so he went by John R. Cash. He changed his name to Johnny Cash when he signed with Sun Records in 1955.
Johnny grew up working in the Arkansas cotton fields with his family, singing while they worked. Cash was taught to play guitar by his mother and began playing and writing songs before he was 12. He performed on a local radio station in high school. Several years later, after he had married and moved to Memphis, Johnny auditioned for Sun Records who eventually gave him a record deal.
15. LUKE COMBS
Luke Combs, an only child, was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1990. He performed in choirs and school musicals, even joining his church choir to perform at Carnegie Hall. After high school graduation, Combs attended college and worked as a bouncer before getting an opportunity to perform on stage. He dropped out of college after 5 years and moved to Nashville to pursue a music career.
16. DOLLY PARTON
The fourth of twelve children, Dolly Parton was born in a one-room cabin near the Little Pigeon River in east Tennessee. Some of Dolly’s first musical performances were in church as early as age six. She started playing a homemade guitar at 7 and was gifted a real guitar by her uncle a year later. She began singing for local radio and television stations and recorded her first single, “Puppy Love,” for a small label when she was only 13. She met Johnny Cash at the Grand Ole Opry around that time and he encouraged her to pursue a career in music.
17. FAITH HILL
Audrey Faith Perry was adopted as an infant after being born in Mississippi in 1967. Her talent was evident at a young age, having her first public performance at age 7 when she sang at a 4-H luncheon. She sang regularly at churches throughout her childhood and formed a band that performed at rodeos when she was 17. She briefly attended college and occasionally sang for prisoners at the Hinds County Jail. At 19, Faith quit college and moved to Nashville to pursue a career in country music. She became Faith Hill after marrying her first husband, Daniel Hill
18. TIM MCGRAW
Tim McGraw was born in 1967, the result of a brief relationship between his mom, Betty, and Tug McGraw, a then-minor league baseball player. Betty was just a teen when she got pregnant with Tim and didn’t tell him that his father was Tug until Tim was 11 and Tug was a major league baseball star. Tim grew up playing baseball, even before knowing that his birth father was a career athlete. An injury kept Tim from pursuing his own professional baseball career, instead choosing to pursue music. Tim attended college briefly, but dropped out the day Keith Whitley died and moved to Nashville.
19. CARRIE UNDERWOOD
Born in 1983, Carrie Underwood grew up in the rural town of Checotah, Oklahoma. As a child, Carrie performed at talent shows, church and other local events. When she was only 14, a local fan arranged for Carrie to audition with Capitol Records. But, that meeting got canceled due to management changes. While she continued to sing, she opted to prepare for the “real world” by attending college. While attending college, Carrie waited tables, worked at a veterinary clinic and at a zoo. In 2004, her mom drove her to St. Louis to audition for American Idol. And, as they say, the rest is history.
20. MIRANDA LAMBERT
Miranda Leigh Lambert was born in East Texas in 1983 to Rick and Bev Lambert, private investigators. Lambert joined her first band, “The Texas Pride Band,” in high school and was lead singer for the Reo Palm Isle house band, a venue where Brooks & Dunn allegedly got their start. When she was 16, Lambert appeared on a talent show, Johnnie High Country Music Revue, in Arlington, Texas, earning herself a recording session in Nashville. When she returned to Texas, Miranda asked her dad to teach her to play guitar so she could write her own music. Shortly after, Miranda competed on the reality singing competition, “Nashville Star.” She didn’t win, but that appearance led to her first record deal.
21. BRETT ELDREDGE
Illinois native Brett Eldredge was born in 1986 and grew up listening to artists such as Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin and Ray Charles. He became intrigued by country music after hearing Brooks & Dunn when he was 16. During a visit to Nashville, Brett heard his cousin Terry, a member of the Grascals and former member of Dolly Parton’s band, and was inspired to attend college at Middle Tennessee State University. He began writing songs and studying the vocal stylings of country singers such as Vince Gill, George Jones and Ray Price. He eventually started performing at songwriters nights where he met Byron Gallimore, a producer and publisher who signed Eldredge to his publishing company.
22. KEITH URBAN
Keith Urban was born in New Zealand in 1967. At the age of four he was given a ukulele, and started playing guitar at six. His father hired a guitar teacher for Keith who started entering local contests. Throughout high school, Keith made regular appearances on television and performed at various competitions. He moved to Nashville in 1992, landing his first “gig” appearing in the music video for Alan Jackson’s “Mercury Blues.” He wrote a number of songs for other artists and served as a studio musician before gaining solo success.
23. LEANN RIMES
LeAnn Rimes was born in Jackson, Mississippi, the only child of Wilbur and Belinda Rimes. Her parents enrolled her in vocal and dance classes before she entered kindergarten and she was participating in local talent shows by age 5. After the family moved to the Dallas, Texas, area, Rimes joined the musical theater and nearly landed the lead part in the Broadway production of Annie. LeAnn competed on reality singing competition, Star Search, at age 8 and toured the country singing the national anthem for NFL games. Her talent caught the eye of Dallas disc jockey and promoter Bill Mack who helped her get a recording contract when she was only 14.
24. SCOTTY MCCREERY
Scotty McCreery was born in North Carolina in 1993. His grandmother gave him a book about Elvis Presley when he was only 5 and sparked his musical interest. Scotty sang in choir all throughout his school years. As a freshman, Scotty surprisingly sang tenor before switching to bass his sophomore year. After a great deal of local success, McCreery decided to audition for American Idol when he was 16. He went on to win and became the youngest male winner ever and second youngest overall winner.
25. RANDY TRAVIS
In 1959, Randy Bruce Traywick was born.Travis began playing guitar and singing in the church choir at age 8. Two years later, Randy and his brother, Ricky, started performing at local clubs and talent contests as The Traywick Brothers. In 1975, Randy won a talent contest at a nightclub and the venue’s owner hired him as a cook and allowed him to sing regularly at the club. In 1982, Travis moved to Nashville, landing a record deal with Warner Bros. Records. As part of his deal he had to change his name to Randy Travis.
26. LUKE BRYAN
Luke Bryan was born in Leesburg, Georgia, in 1976. He has lifelong dreams of becoming a country star but put them on hold when his older brother Chris died in a car accident. Luke chose to go to college instead and earned a degree in business administration. Two year later, Luke’s dad told him it was time for him to move to Nashville. He initially found success as a songwriter before signing his own recording deal in 2007.
27. CODY JOHNSON
Cody Johnson was Texas-born and raised and learned to play the guitar when he was 12. The “‘Til You Can’t” singer played gigs at local schools and bars while becoming a professional bull rider. While working alongside his dad in a local prison, a warden convinced Cody to pursue music full-time. CoJo spent a decade building his music career as an independent artist and made history in 2018 as they only unsigned country artist to play to a sold-out crowd at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. Johnson signed with Warner Bros. Records the following year and has seen significant career success in the years since.
28. JOHN RICH
John Rich/InstagramJohn Rich is a former member of country band Lonestar and one half of the country duo Big & Rich. A multi-talented star, Rich has hosted numerous television shows won the 2011 season of Celebrity Apprentice where he earned roughly $1.5 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Rich is perhaps best known for being an outspoken conservative and American patriot.