Top Musicians from the 50 States

Alabama: As if its name isn't enough, the band Alabama has banked 33 Country Songs No. 1s, the most among groups, including its first since 1993 last year, courtesy of its guest turn on Paisley's "Old Alabama.

Alaska: Jewel was born in Utah, but her family soon moved to Homer (and a home without indoor plumbing). When asked by Larry King in 2010 her opinion of Sarah Palin, Jewel responded, "I can't say we agree on everything (politically). But, Alaska women are can-do women. I love the state I'm from.

Peter Green founded Fleetwood Mac in London, but the 1974 addition of Americans Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, the latter from Phoenix, ushered in the band's commercial era that led to its enshrinement in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.


With all due respect to occasional saxman Bill Clinton, Johnny Cash wins this musical election. The Man in Black, born in aptly named Kingsland, won new audiences with new music in even his final years (i.e., his haunting cover of Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt") and topped the Billboard 200 as recently as 2006, three years after his passing.


California is home to several superstars, from Paula Abdul to Frank Zappa. While Santa Barbara-born Katy Perry self-congratulated "California Gurls" in 2010, American institution the Beach Boys wished they all could be California girls 45 years earlier.

Colorado: John Denver was born (as Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr.) in Roswell, New Mexico. Still, his name and smashes as "Rocky Mountain High" have made him as much a part of Colorado as Coors beer.


John Mayer takes a slight edge over New Haven native Michael Bolton, if only since "No Such Thing" so clearly evokes images of Mayer's alma mater, Fairfield High School.

Delaware: George Thorogood. The Wilmington-born guitar hero's "Greatest Hits: 30 Years of Rock" has spent the most weeks (57) of all entries on Billboard's Blues Albums chart.

We could pick Flo Rida, or Backstreet Boys or 'N Sync, but with 29 charted titles on the Hot 100 and 30, including 15 No. 1s, on Latin Songs, Gloria Estefan (born in Havana, Cuba) has gotten fans on their feet and in conga lines, moving to her Miami sounds, for more than a quarter century.


Home to famed alternative acts including R.E.M., the B-52s and Indigo Girls. Still, an easy choice to bestow the honor on the late Ray Charles. "Just an old sweet song keeps Georgia on my mind," the R&B titan sang on his 1960 Hot 100 No. 1. Since 1979, "Georgia on My Mind" has served as the state's official song.


The honor for the 50th state both chronologically and in this feature goes to Bruno Mars, born in the Waikiki neighborhood of Honolulu. With "Just the Way You Are" having wrapped 20 weeks atop Adult Contemporary, the song stands as the longest-reigning debut format hit in the chart's 50-year history.

Idaho: Paul Revere and the Raiders, formed in Boise, notched 21 Hot 100 hits between 1961 and 1973, including the 1971 No. 1 "Indian Reservation (The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian)," an ode to Native Americans forced to relocate in the 1830s

Illinois: Originally named Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago has sent 46 songs onto the Hot 100, 20 of which reached the top 10. Even after the defection of lead singer Peter Cetera, the band topped the tally, with "Look Away," sung by Bill Champlin (who departed Chicago in 2009), ranking as Billboard's top single of 1989.


John Mellencamp has incomparably made his home state a central theme in his music. The "Small Town" singer was even born in just that: Seymour, whose population is, as of the last census, 17,503. It's hard to beat a King, however, and Michael Jackson was born in Gary. (Coincidentally, Seymour is located in Jackson County).

Iowa: The Everly Brothers' harmonies influenced countless acts, including the Beatles and Beach Boys. Don was born in Kentucky and Phil, Illinois, but their family soon embraced the Shenandoah, Iowa, music scene, with their father Ike often bringing them on to sing on his radio shows on KMA and KFNF.

Kansas: Sharon-born Martina McBride has placed 55 songs on Country Songs dating to her first on the chart 20 years ago. Still, Kansas is right there in the name of the band, formed in Topeka, that enjoyed such hits as "Carry on Wayward Son" and "Dust in the Wind."


Coal miner's daughter and country icon Loretta Lynn was born in Butcher Holler. Runners-up in the state's musical derby: the Judds, as Naomi and Wynonna each hail from Ashland.


As New Orleans = jazz, who else but Louis Armstrong? Satchmo not only crossed over to mainstream audiences as early as the 1920s, but stands as a pioneer in breaking racial barriers, as well, through the power of his beloved music.

Maine: Stephen Hague. A producer, not a known performer, Hague (born in Portland) has, perhaps surprisingly, produced hits most notably recorded by British bands, including Pet Shop Boys ("West End Girls"), New Order ("True Faith") and Erasure ("A Little Respect").


From Severn, Toni Braxton has enjoyed four No. 1s on R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and 11 top 10s, including two No. 1s, on R&B/Hip-Hop Songs between 1992 and 2010. Just last week, she scored her first No. 1 on Dance/Club Play Songs since 1997.


Aerosmith. The "Bad Boys from Boston" bests such worthy fellow Bay Staters as James Taylor, New Kids on the Block, the Cars, Boston, Dropkick Murphys and Mighty Mighty Bosstones.


Heartland rock (i.e., the state's Bob Seger) perhaps best defines the Midwest, but Madonna was born in Bay City, graduated from Rochester Adams High School and attended the University of Michigan before dropping out to move to New York City and create the material that would make her musical royalty.


As with Jackson and Mellencamp in Indiana, you couldn't go wrong with either a pop/R&B cornerstone - Prince - or rock icon - Bob Dylan - representing Minnesota. We'll give the nod to Prince, as "Purple Rain" vividly transported '80s music fans to Minneapolis, where the movie was filmed almost exclusively.


As Elvis Presley served as perhaps the most important figure in the popularization of early rock, his Billboard chart legacy is equally astounding. He's scored the most hits among soloists in the Hot 100's 54-year history and the most albums in the 56-year archives of the Billboard 200 albums chart. Simply, he's still the King of Rock & Roll.


Eminem was born (Marshall Bruce Mathers III) in Saint Joseph, not moving to Michigan until age 12. Eminem is the best-selling rap album artist of all-time, with U.S. sales of 41.5 million, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Among males, he trails only the next two artists on our tour of American music.

Montana: For such a big state, relatively few mainstream recording acts hail from Montana. Helena's Nicolette Larson reached the Hot 100's top 10 on her first try with 1979's No. 8-peaking "Lotta Love."

Nebraska: Another band that epitomizes the heartland rock sound, the Eagles, was co-founded by Randy Meisner, who also helped form Poco. Meisner sings lead on the Eagles' No. 4 1976 smash "Take It to the Limit."

Nevada: While Las Vegas has long been the performing home of Wayne Newton and, more recently, Celine Dion and Garth Brooks, the Killers formed there in 2001. The alternative/dance band, with a stylistic flare in line with that of Sin City, has earned three Billboard 200 top 10s.

New Hampshire: Ray Lamontagne. The Nashua folk/rocker has reached No. 3 on the Billboard 200 with 2008's "Gossip in the Grain" and 2010's "God Willin' & the Creek Don't Rise."

New Jersey:

If from almost any other state, Bon Jovi would surely (shore-ly?) make this list in bold print. Bruce Springsteen, however, seems like the most apt choice if only for career longevity as a tie-breaker. A bittersweet honorary mention, as well, to Whitney Houston.

New Mexico: "You gotta hear this one song. It'll change your life," Zach Braff predicted about the Shins' "New Slang" in the 2004 film "Garden State." The Albuquerque band roared to a No. 1 peak on Rock Albums and a No. 2 rank on the Billboard 200 with 2007's "Wincing the Night Away.

New York:

Some states were almost impossible to symbolize via only one act. Such New York-born superstars include Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey, Lady Gaga and, of course, Jay-Z and Alicia Keys. Before "Empire State of Mind," however, the Bronx's Billy Joel was often in a New York state of mind, from 52nd Street to his Uptown girl.

North Carolina:

Bucking the trend of country/rock artists best representing Southern states, Jermaine Dupri has produced 11 Billboard Hot 100 No. 1s for such R&B acts as Nelly, Usher and Monica. All 11 leaders have spent multiple weeks at No. 1, led by Mariah Carey's 14-week topper "We Belong Together" in 2005.

North Dakota: Lawrence Welk, Bobby Vee ("Take Good Care of My Baby," 1961) and Wiz Khalifa are the only artists born in the state to top the Hot 100. Based on longevity - and, despite "Black and Yellow" having served as the postseason theme to two championship teams last year - acting/singing favorite Welk takes the title.

Ohio:While the Pretenders formed in England in 1978, frontwoman Chrissie Hynde hails from Akron. In 2005, the band joined the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (in Cleveland). Fictitious runners-up: the "Glee" cast. Lima's McKinley High School singers own the record for most Hot 100 hits (203) in the chart's history.


Garth Brooks. With U.S. sales of 68.6 million, the Tulsa native and Oklahoma State University grad (advertising major, FYI) is the best-selling album artist in SoundScan's 21-year history.

Oregon: 2011 Best New artist Grammy Award winner Esperanza Spalding was born in Portland. The acclaimed jazz instrumentalist/singer famously won the honor over presumed favorite (and Canada native) Justin Bieber. Also from the Portlandia region: the Decemberists, Everclear and Courtney Love.


Wyomissing's Taylor Swift proves that you don't need to hail from the South to make great country music. She is also the only woman to pull five Country Songs top 10s from each of her first two albums. Runners-up: with their blue-eyed Philly soul, Daryl Hall & John Oates.

Rhode Island: Jeffrey Osborne. The Providence-born R&B singer fronted L.T.D. before launching a solo career that yielded such hits as 1984's "Stay With Me Tonight" (a Rhody radio favorite).

South Carolina:

The late, legendary "Living in America" singer himself, James Brown. The Godfather of Soul sent 91 songs onto the Hot 100, the third-best sum among solo acts after Elvis Presley's 108 and Lil Wayne's 102.

South Dakota: While not a hotbed of Hot 100 activity, the state gave us author L. Frank Baum, who wrote the children's novel "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz." Adapted for the silver screen, Kansas/Oz-based "The Wizard of Oz" helped popularize such timeless songs as "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."


As with Springsteen in New Jersey, it's hard to imagine anyone other than Dolly Parton representing Tennessee, especially since her "Dollywood" theme park welcomes approximately 2.5 million visitors annually. The Nashville queen, born in Sevierville, boasts the most No. 1s (25) of any female artist in the 68-year history of Country Songs.


Even if all his exes reportedly live there, George Strait can't hide from the fact that he's sent more songs to No. 1 on Country Songs (44) than any act on any Billboard chart. With top 10s annually on Country Songs since 1981, Strait, born in Poteet, is the only artist to score a top 10 on the same survey for as many as 32 "Strait" years.


Stars of songs and stage the Osmonds are synonymous with the Salt Lake region, having collected 13 Hot 100 hits, while Donny has scored 16 as a soloist. He and sister Marie debuted at No. 30 on the Billboard 200 just last year with "Donny & Marie," the pair's highest-peak duets set.

Vermont: Who else but Phish? The jam band formed at the University of Vermont in Burlington in 1983. Ben & Jerry's, headquartered in nearby Waterbury, famously concocted its "Phish Food" ice cream flavor as a tasty tribute.

Virginia: Bruce Hornsby. Not only has the singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist serenaded his home state in such descriptive songs as "The Red Plains," "The Valley Road" and "The Road Not Taken" (in which he sings of falling in love "with an Appalachian girl").


As such states as Tennessee and Texas symbolize country music, Seattle is likewise the birthplace of grunge, with no act perhaps better representing the genre than Nirvana, who defeats Pearl Jam in a tight race if only because "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (No. 6, 1992) marked the sound's first crossover to the Hot 100's top 10.

West Virginia: Brad Paisley. Since his arrival, by way of Glen Dale, Paisley has tallied 18 No. 1s - including a streak of 10 in-a-row - on Billboard's Country Songs chart and six No. 1s on Country Albums

Wisconsin: Les Paul, whom the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has deemed an "architect" of the genre, originated the solid-body electric guitar and perfected multi-track recording technology. "I've never let anybody know exactly how I get my sound," said Paul, who passed away in 2009. "That big, fat, round, ballsy sound ... nobody else has it."

Wyoming: Although born in Biloxi, Mississippi, Chris LeDoux became a Wyoming rodeo legend. After Garth Brooks sang of listening to a "worn-out tape of Chris LeDoux" in his debut single "Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)," the singer tallied 21 appearances on Country Songs until his death in 2005