The Joe Kelly List: Top 7 Country Music Singers From New Jersey
Granted, when most people think of country music singers, they probably don't think of New Jersey.
Wait! We actually have had some pretty good ones that have either been born in New Jersey or grew up here.
(This list is my opinion.)
Before we begin, let me stress that I'm usually the term "from New Jersey" pretty liberally. I'm including folks that have been born here - even if they didn't spend much time here AND performers that weren't born here, but did spend some years growing up here.
1. Clint Black. Hits include "Killin' Time", "A Better Man", "Put Yourself in My Shoes" and "Like the Rain."
Black was born in Long Branch and lived the first year of his life in Red Bank, before moving to Texas, where he grew up.
2. Eddie Rabbitt. Hits include "I Love a Rainy Night", "Every Which Way But Loose", "Suspicions", and the duet "You and I" with Crystal Gayle.
Rabbitt was born in Brooklyn, New York but was raised in East Orange, New Jersey. His big break was actually writing "Kentucky Rain", a song that became a hit for Elvis Presley.
3. Richard Sterban, member of The Oak Ridge Boys. Hits include "Elvira", Bobbie Sue", "Y'all Come Back Saloon", and "(I'm Settin') Fancy Free."
Sterban was born in Camden and grew up in Collingswood.
4. Mary Chapin Carpenter. Hits include "Down at the Twist and Shout", "I Feel Lucky", "Passionate Kisses" and "Shut Up and Kiss Me."
Carpenter was born in Princeton. She went to Princeton Day School for a time but spent much of her childhood in the Washington DC area.
5. Juice Newton. Hits include "Queen of Hearts", "Angel of the Morning", and "The Sweetest Thing (I've Ever Known)."
Newton was born in Lakehurst but apparently grew up in Virginia.
6. Debby Boone. Hit: "You Light Up My Life."
The daughter of singer Pat Boone, she was born in Hackensack.
7. Ricky Nelson. Hit: "Garden Party."
Born in Teaneck to entertainers Ozzie and Harriet Nelson. His family soon moved to California.
8. Dierks Bentley. Hits include "What Was I Thinkin'", "Come a Little Closer", "Sideways" and "Drunk on a Plane."
Although Bentley was born and raised in Phoenix, he did spend at least some time during his teenage years in New Jersey. in 2011, Bentley spoke to the Press of Atlantic City about graduating from The Lawrenceville School: "I grew up in Phoenix, and lived there for the first 14 years of my life. I had troubles in my younger adolescence, and my parents decided to send me away to boarding school. If I hadn't gone there, I would never have discovered country music. I made some great friends - and had a love of Jersey girls - but country reminded me of home and Arizona."
9. Emily Strayer and Martie Macguire of The Dixie Chicks. (Now known as simply The Chicks.) Hits include "There's Your Trouble", "Wide Open Spaces", "Ready to Run" and "Cowboy Take Me Away."
Sisters Emily and Martie (born Emily Erwin and Martie Erwin) grew up mostly in Texas. I actually can't find anything "official", but there are some relatives of the sisters living in South Jersey. I have heard rumors that long before stardom, Emily and Martie did perform in the Somers Point area, at least once. (If you can provide some insight into this, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.)