The Artist Willie Nelson Thinks Did the Most for Country Music

Many artists have shaped country music: Waylon Jennings, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, and Willie Nelson. But, according to the latter artist, there is one musician that has done more for the genre than anyone else–and it may not be who you’d expect. Find out which artist Nelson is praising, below.

Videos by American Songwriter

[RELATED: The Story Behind “Just to Satisfy You” by Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson and How It Became a No. 1 Hit Almost 20 Years After It Was Written]

The Artist Willie Nelson Thinks Did the Most for Country Music

The artist Nelson thinks has shaped country music the most isn’t really a country artist at all. Though he has done many country covers, Ray Charles would likely sooner be put in the soul or blues categories. Nevertheless, Nelson once heralded him as a great influence on the world of country music.

Nelson wrote in his book Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die: Musings From the Road, “Ray Charles did more for country music than anyone else. When he recorded the album Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, with all the great country classics, millions of Ray Charles fans were introduced to country music. I had been a Ray Charles fan all the way back to ‘What’d I Say.’ To be able to record and sing with him was a dream come true.”

Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music was released in 1962. It quickly became one of the best-selling albums by a black musician at the time. He defied expectations by charting in a genre that was almost exclusively white men and women.

Nelson and Charles delivered many duets. Perhaps the most famous is “Seven Spanish Angels,” but they have many stellar live performances that are worth revisiting. Among our favorites is their duet of “Georgia on My Mind” and “A Song For You” alongside Leon Russell.

(Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Leave a Reply

Ashley Judd and Wynonna Judd seen backstage for CMT Coal Miner's Daughter: A Celebration of the Life & Music of Loretta Lynn at Grand Ole Opry on October 30, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Ashley Judd Gives Fans a Different Perspective on Wynonna with Heartfelt Birthday Message

Recording King Dirty 30s Banjo

Recording King Dirty 30s Banjo Review: Bang-Up Budget Banjos (For Bluegrass & More)