Joey Martin of Joey & Rory may be a "Southern Girl" now, but she was raised in Indiana
30. Michigan Michigan is an overachieving state in terms of country music. Few would expect to have it there, but what else would you expect in a region full of transplanted southerners. you've got the Downtown Hoedown in Detroit, a classic song about "Saginaw, Michigan" by Lefty Frizzell and a contemporary country star in Josh Gracin. Way to surprise 'em, Michigan.
29. Massachusetts It was in Massachusetts where I became a country music fan 13 years ago, but it's also a state where it took 16 years to become exposed to it. It is there, but you've got to look for it. To me, it seems like the genre has become more popular since I left. And it did something few small northeastern states have done - produced a country star in JoDee Messina. There was also the drummer from Alabama from Springfield, Mass. (the only non-Alabaman in the band). So until this year, there hadn't been an ACM Artist of the Decade from Texas, but a band had a member from Massachusetts. That's wicked surprising.
28. Connecticut Connecticut is surprisingly rural in certain parts, and I don't recall any country stars coming from there. But I always felt like there was a high demand for country music whenever I visited its borders. Perhaps, it's because I traveled to Hartford to see an All-Day Country Music festival and had a great time there. You can't forget about all the country shows that they have at Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods. Before Mohegan Sun built its current arena, I traveled to free concerts by Suzy Bogguss and Chely Wright in the Wolf's Den.
27. Nebraska Sawyer Brown wrote "The Nebraska Song" about a Kansas-raised football player (Brooks Berringer) who starred at quarterback for the Cornhuskers before tragically dying in a small plane crash. The State Fair and County Fairs have all kinds of country artists performing there, but you'd think more artists would hail from Nebraska. I can't think of one, and that's why the Cornhusker State is surprisingly low on this list.
26. New York Country music isn't the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about New York City. But it's very popular in certain circles there, and the city has several country-themed nightclubs. Country stars also visit NYC to go on shows like Good Morning America or to participate in PR events. You can't do publicity without visiting the publicity capital of the world. And that's not even mentioning relatively rural New York State - the home region of Hal Ketchum. The western portion of New York State has more in common culturally with the Midwest, than the Northeast.
25. Montana The sparsely populated Western state doesn't have much in terms in producing country stars, but it's been the inspiration for several country songs, most famously, "Meet Me In Montana" by Marie Osmond and the late Dan Seals. Hank Williams Jr. also considers Montana one of his favorite spots and has written many songs about it as well.
24. Indiana I've only visited Indiana once (and that was just passing through), but I picture the state to be a major center of independent country music. They have the Little Nashville Opry in Nashville, Indiana. And Joey Martin - half of the traditional-based duo Joey+Rory - hails from the Hoosier State. That's enough of a reason to move them up the list.
23. Illinois Illinois now claims not only Suzy Bogguss and David Lee Murphy, but Gretchen Wilson as well. Indiana has more of a reputation as a country music state, but the central and southern portions of the state are as big of country music regions as anywhere. And Chicago - the nation's third largest city - is also a major market in which country music has great popularity and one of the most popular country stations (US 99) in the nation.
22. Ohio From legends like Connie Smith, David Allen Coe and the late Johnny Paycheck to contemporary artists like Danielle Peck and two-thirds of Rascal Flatts, Ohio has always been an important state in terms of country music. Stretching from midwestern influence in the north to the border of the American South, Ohio is an interesting case study of a state. But all in all, it's one where country music is performed and appreciated.
21. Wyoming Wyoming is a state with few people, but picturesque scenery and big skies. Country music stars aren't many there, because there aren't many folks living in its borders. But the late, great Chris LeDoux single-handidly moves the state up on this list thanks to his recording career that began as a hobby on the side of being a World Champion rodeo cowboy to more of a Nashville-influenced sound later in his career. LeDoux played a big role in keeping the legacy of the singing cowboy. And Wyoming is rightfully proud of his accomplishments.