Country music in the USA is something that every American has listened to at least once in their life. Whether it was a parent playing it on a car radio, heard over the speakers at a store, or the only radio station available on a long road trip, you’ve heard a country song!
It’s so engrossed in Americana, most people have a very straight-forward view of the genre of music and the people that sing it but if you think all country singers are conservative, republican singers, you’d be dead wrong and in this article, I’ll list out some of the most well-known, liberal country singers.
Let’s get started!
Here’s a singer that admittedly, I didn’t know too much about but was surprised to learn that I’ve hummed along to some of her songs on a drive or two!
With six grammy awards, seven CMA awards, and three academy of country music awards, it would be hard not to call her an established and notable country music singer.
While she’s certainly talented, some of her music has ruffled feathers in the country music fandom, like Follow Your Arrow.
While some have dubbed it a gay anthem and others discuss the song’s “cultural impact”
All I heard was a song telling me, to “follow my arrow” or be whoever I am, my authentic self.
Which sounds like a great message, for people of all ages, but with lyrics like, “Make lots of noise, kiss lots of boys or kiss lots of girls, if that’s something you’re into…”
It’s easy to see how the older generation of country music fans would be upset.
Still, it doesn’t seem to bother Kacey too much, saying in an interview, “More than anything, even if they don’t agree with the girls kissing girls thing or even the drug reference, I would hope that they would agree that no matter what, we all should be able to love who we want to love and live how we want to live.”
With interviews like that, tweets saying, “that voting for Trump is an act of violence against LGBTQ+ people“, and songs with carefree lyrics, it isn’t hard to imagine on what side of the aisle Ms. Musgraves falls.
The “man in black himself”, even if you’re not one for country music, I’d find it hard to believe you’ve never heard Ring of Fire.
Personally, A boy named Sue is my favorite Johnny Cash song, it just makes me chuckle every time I hear it.
While Mr. Cash said, “he never voted a day in his life”, his music certainly spoke about controversial subjects. Specifically, the plight of Native Americans. Certainly, his performing in prisons and speaking on the subjects that he did, wouldn’t have made him any friends in the Republican party that we know today.
Still, I wouldn’t put him in the Democratic wing either. He was an enigma, to say the least, but with such a push for people that were persecuted and downtrodden, like Native Americans.
It’s easy to call him some sort of firebrand “liberal”.
Of course, Willie Nelson would make this list! The “On the Road Again” singer has been never been ashamed to show where his politics land.
He’s been vocal on many subjects like the legalization of marijuana and same-sex marriage but for the purposes of this post, if those two subjects weren’t enough, he’s shown support for democratic hopeful nominees like Dennis Kucinich and Beto O’ Rourke. In their various bids for office.
Finally, Mr. Nelson has been a vocal advocate for ethical and humane treatment of animals, specifically horses but he also calves raised for the dairy industry.
LeeAnn Rimes is a country singer, turned crossover artist, that’s been in the spotlight since she was 13 years old.
Aside from singing my favorite version of “How do I live” the singer has always been outspokenly vocal about her support for the LGBTQ+ community.
Stating in an interview with PrideSource, when asked when her passion for LGBTQ+ issues began, “Well, first off, my uncle was gay and he passed away from AIDS when I was 11, so that propelled me, especially (living) in the South and (it) being such an aversion, like, this is a disease. I just wanted to run the other direction, and I just never quite understood it.
I remember meeting a lot of my fans who were young – my age – and I knew that they were gay, obviously. So, when I’d have fans come back and they were these young gay guys and girls, it was just something I related to.
I just understood, especially being so young and being in the spotlight, because I was always judged and it was very intense in that way. So, in some ways, I understand some of that judgment from a different point of view, but it was just that they related to my music and I related to them – something just clicked.”
In the same interview, she later states that while she supports the movement, she “draws the line” at making political statements. Which, given her likely conservative fanbase, is probably a smart move.
Regardless of that fact, I think we can make the argument that she’s most likely “socially liberal” as far as other policies. Well, that’s anyone’s guess!
To this day, “Don’t take the girl” will get me crying like a baby. Sure, there are plenty of other songs to list and if you’re a fan, I’m sure you have your favorites but this is the first one that comes to my mind every time.
And if you’re a true fan of McGraw, then you know he’s called himself a “Blue Dog Democrat”. He’s spoken about running for governor in his home state of Tennessee on a democratic ticket.
In that 2006 Esquire article, where he called himself a democrat, he also spoke fondly of former president Bill Clinton. He’s also been supportive of former president Barack Obama and he performed for a primetime virtual event celebrating President Biden’s inauguration.
Despite him not running for any political office as of yet, let’s take him on his word on which side of the aisle he prefers.
It wouldn’t be right to put Faith Hill too far away from her husband, Tim Mcgraw. However, don’t get it twisted, Faith Hill is arguably one of the most successful country music stars in her own right.
“There you’ll be“, recorded for the 2001 movie, Pearl Harbor soundtrack is the song that comes to my mind almost instantly. Probably because the song was a huge hit! Even if the movie itself wasn’t the best.
Moving on to her political views, while perhaps not as outspoken as her husband, she’s been more than willing to open her checkbook, reportedly donating to Barack Obama’s campaign in 2008 and to the DNC in 2007.
Finally, both she and her husband reportedly donated to President Joe Biden’s campaign during his election cycle.
It’s pretty easy to see, that if there’s a democratic candidate in need of a donation, there she’ll be.
Is it odd to just suddenly bust out in your own personal rendition of “Does He Love You” randomly in the kitchen? Asking for a friend of course!
To say that I’m not a Reba McEntire fan would be a flat-out lie. This woman is a staple in country music and is an icon in every sense of the word.
While she’s been very pointed about her talking about politics at her shows or in general, most notably her outright denial that she would be performing at an event for South Dakota governor Kristi Noem.
She believes that she should stay an entertainer, saying, “It’s not her place to issue statements regarding her political views”.
With that being said, she’s been more than happy to speak her mind on same-sex marriage and other gay rights, saying to Out magazine in 2009, “I have gay friends who have partners, and I see where they would want to get married. I understand why. So, I can’t judge that.”
While she may never come out for a particular party or candidate, she’s likely lending her support to those that support those same views.
One of my all-time favorite songs is “Friends in Low Places“, I have no problem blasting that song in the car and singing my head off! It’s just a great song.
But when talking about Mr. Brooks and politics, I took some time to pause and think about whether or not to put him on this list. After all, he’s said himself, he is a Republican.
However, there’s more to this than just Democrat v. Republican and one-size-fits-all politics. While Garth made that statement, he did sing at President Biden’s inauguration. He even joked about him likely being the only Republican singing on that day.
And that’s not the only inauguration that he’s performed at, he was invited to the Obama inauguration and he’s sung at others as well.
He’s said himself, that it’s about “reaching across and loving one another”, so it’s safe to say that’s he definitely bipartisan but the reason I feel comfortable listing him here is his support for gay rights and same-sex marriage.
In 1993, he released the song, “We Shall Be Free“, in it, there’s a specific line, “When we’re free to love anyone we choose” depending on how you look at that, he could be talking about interracial relationships or same-sex relationships or perhaps both.
Either way, it captured the attention of the gay community and he would end up winning a GLAAD Media Award for the song that year.
In 1999, in an interview with the now-defunct magazine George, he was a little more on the nose with his thoughts on the subject saying, “But if you’re in love, you’ve got to follow your heart and trust that God will explain to us why we sometimes fall in love with people of the same sex.”
And for me, it’s that support of the LGBTQ+ community, plus his willingness to sing for Presidents, regardless of their political affiliation, that is why I’m willing to put him on this list.
He’s socially liberal, it would seem, and that’s alright by me!
The eldest daughter of country music legend, Johnny Cash, Roseanne Cash has been pumping out hits since the late 80s! Arguably, one of her biggest and most well-known hits is “Tennessee Flat Top Box“.
Unlike her father, she’s been more vocal with her political beliefs, not just showing her left-leaning beliefs in music but by flat out saying it out loud and with her pocketbook.
She spoke out about subjects like the 2016 Presidential election, her disdain for now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh as well as the #metoo movement.
In a recent article for the Monterey County Weekly, she said, “An artist is like any other citizen. We all have a right to speak up. I hate when people think or say, ‘Shut up and sing.”
Finally, as I said a little earlier, unlike her father, Roseanne has been very open with her money, she’s donated to several political campaigns like donating to Senator Elizabeth Warren’s presidential bids, as well as Amy Mcgrath when she ran for the Senate.
She once said that she’s “very liberal” and I’m inclined to agree.
Steve Earle has had a long career that started in 1974 when he moved to Nashville at the tender age of 19. However, his career wouldn’t really take off until the release of his first full-length album Guitar Town, in 1986.
As his career progressed, he had no problem singing about the politics of the day from a very liberal perspective.
He’s described himself as a socialist that votes for Democrats, even though he doesn’t agree with all of their policies. He expressed support for Senator Bernie Sanders when he sought the White House back in 2016.
But if you really want to get an idea of his political leanings and his acumen, then take some time and read his 2017 interview with Rolling Stone magazine.
Most remember this article because he called Donald Trump an “Orangutan”. Which is fine, it’s funny, and depending on the circles you run with, it’s perfectly okay to insult the former President in this manner but what impressed me was his predictions concerning the Supreme Court and Roe v Wade.
He said, “While we’re paying attention to all the stupid shit he’s doing, they’re methodically seeing to their agenda and they’re getting a lot of shit done under the radar. They’re hoping for one more Supreme Court justice and Roe v. Wade is done.”
Most people probably rolled their eyes out at how ridiculous that sounded at the time but look at where we are now.
Again, I’m a little ashamed to admit that I really didn’t know who Brandy Clark was but her name was definitely circulating around online and it’s not hard to see why!
She is quite the talented songwriter, she’s written and co-written songs for artists like Reba McEntire, LeAnn Rimes, and most famously for Kacey Musgraves with Follow Your Arrow.
The song list is a lot longer than that and there’s just not enough time in the day to list them all!
However, her long list of wildly popular songs isn’t really the reason why she’s on this list. She’s an openly gay singer-songwriter in a very conservative genre of music and her career hasn’t seemed to stall as a result.
She was even proclaimed the “great lesbian hope” by some! Still, with all of that attention, she admits that she isn’t “too political”, saying in an interview with Pride Source, “I’m not a real political person, and I’m not even necessarily that proud to say that. I’m just not. I mean, I vote.
The way I lean would not shock anyone (laughs). But I just … I never get into it. Maybe I should more. Maybe that’s something I should do more of.”
While she might not be as political as some would like her to be, her penning music like she does and just being out and proud as she is in this genre of music is enough to be on any list like this!
Another prolific singer-songwriter, this list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Emmylou Harris. She’s been on the music scene since the early 70s and paved out one heck of a career having won 14 Grammy Awards!
Still, I really had to think hard about adding her on here, until I did a little more digging. She’s actively promoted causes like ending racism and ridding the world of land mines, and she’s also a fierce feminist as well as a veteran advocate.
And while her song, “My name is Emmit Till” will give you chills, she’s stayed “quiet” as far as her views are concerned but she has “dipped her toe in” from time to time. She finally jumped in 2018, when she openly endorsed Karl Dean, the former Mayor of Nashville, for Governor that year.
Looking at her career, it’s one of those “yeah, we kinda suspected” sort of things, regarding her potential political affiliations.
Jennifer is a singer-songwriter and has been in the “music game” since the late 90s when she was at Agnes State College, which I guess could be enough to show her political leanings but I’ll keep on with it!
While she was active in other bands throughout the 90s, it wouldn’t be until she formed Sugarland with two other female artists that things really took off.
It was in 2019, that her “politics” really came out when she advocated for “equal play”, a movement that saw female country music singers decrying the discrepancy with the amount of time given to their male counterparts on the radio, with regard to air time or “play time”.
However, while she’s never been shy about her leanings, in a 2016 Billboard article she bluntly said, “I’m a registered Democrat.” and spoke openly and enthusiastically about her support of Hillary Clinton in her failed Presidential bid that year.
If that doesn’t make her a Liberal-Country Singer then I don’t what would!
I wanted to end this article with Kriss Kristofferson, he’s a storied singer who “famously” landed a helicopter on Johhny Cash’s lawn with a beer in one hand and tape in the other. (This is untrue by the way, the beer and tape part) but it’s a great image, no?
His politics have always been left of center, a fact that he attributes to his mother and his time being raised in Brownsville, Texas.
A poor border-town area, not too far from where I was born. He said it was his time there, witnessing racial injustices that kept him on a left-leaning path.
He would sing about such political wrongdoings well into his career and while some weren’t too happy with it, his career progressed just fine and he was inducted into the country music hall of fame in 2014.
It’s statements like this that made me want to put him on this list; “There are a whole lot of people who don’t read enough news, or know what’s going on in the world“.
“I find it hard to believe the same people that were so outraged by Pearl Harbor can feel it’s all right to make pre-emptive war on another country that hasn’t even attacked us. Now that has become accepted behavior. (Speaking on the invasion of Iraq in 2003)
“I can’t imagine the America I grew up believing in behaving like that.”
Despite statements like this making him “unmarketable”, he was never afraid or ashamed to make his feelings known, especially when injustices were going on unnoticed or underreported.
Rounding This out
See, it isn’t hard to find a list of liberal country singers! Heck, depending on who you talk to, there are probably some that I missed but I think I rounded up a list of the most well-known and influential voices in country music past and present and if some of the interviews I read researching this topic are true, Country Music is only going to become more and more socially liberal as time marches on.
But what do you think? Are there any artists or singers that you think I should’ve included on this list? Let me know in the comments below!