A Little Bit of Country Music Goes a Long Way for Nontraditional Artists

Kid Rock

Kid Rock has never been shy about flirting with other music genres. He may have entered music on Detroit's hip-hop scene, but after gaining national attention, he became uber-successful marrying hip-hop and rock.

Then, he and singer Sheryl Crow released a huge pop country hit in 2001 called "Picture." Sure, it featured the common staples of cheating, beer, whiskey and some drug use, but, man, did it sound good.

It also laid the groundwork for his most recent album, "Rock N Roll Jesus," which clearly takes some cues from the country music community. Singles like "Roll On" show how much twang has influenced Kid Rock's music.



Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash was a country music star with so many memorable songs and performances, it would take tons of print to list them all. But one of his most engaging songs and moments came not from a Cash original but rather a cover of a Nine Inch Nails song. The video for "Hurt" has become a sort of epitaph for Cash, whose deep, moody and pensive take on the single made it unforgettable. An aged Cash, whose poor health was apparent, singing about regrets and past mistakes was so moving it brought him an even younger generation of fans.

Watching "The Man in Black" sit solemnly in a chair strumming a guitar and softly belting out lyrics like "I hurt myself today to see if I still feel," gave a glimpse into the soul of a man whose lifetime was filled with difficult moments.

He turned rock into country. In the song he sings, "What have I become? My sweetest friend, everyone I know goes away in the end." But with performances like this one Cash ensured he and country music would never fade away. What did he become? An icon with a permanent place among Nashville's elite.



Ray Charles

Ray Charles may be remembered as a soul man, but his love for country was fierce. So much so that the musical genius recorded a country album.

"Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music" became a rapid success and pushed Charles further into the stratosphere. The 1962 album had songs like "Born to Lose" and "I Can't Stop Loving You."

The record's theme is often found in country music: one of heartache and love.



Pat Boone

Pat Boone switched to country music as his hit-making proficiency began to wane, thanks in part to the British invasion. But what really surprised fans was his making a heavy metal album.

"In a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy" was a collection of covers and Boone's leather-clad appearance on the American Music Awards in 1997 shocked just about everyone but Boone himself.



Shania Twain

In the late '90s, country music and pop were synonymous, thanks to singers like Shania Twain who manufactured hit after hit. Need proof? You surely know at least one baby named Shania from that period.

The singer from the Great White North proved Canadians could croon country as well as Americans.

Her smash album "Come on Over," which featured songs like "You're Still the One," "From This Moment On" and "That Don't Impress Me Much" became top pop staples and some people probably didn't even realize they were jamming to country music. The other thing Shania did for country music was to make it sexy. The songer was known for teeny tiny tops and supershort shorts, looking more like a pop star than a country queen.



Faith Hill

Like Shania Twain, Faith Hill became a huge crossover sensation. The "Mississippi Girl" has the picture-perfect country music family, which she shares with superstar spouse Tim McGraw.

Her pop culture success began with "This Kiss" and continued with "Breathe" and "The Way You Love Me."

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