20 Famous Musicians From Kansas

Kansas is home to some of the most exceptional musicians the world has ever known. From pop to soul, R&B to rock, and everything in between, this state has produced some of the most talented singers, songwriters, and actors of our time.

Whether they’ve won numerous awards or just garnered a loyal following, these musicians have made their legacy on the music industry. 

So, let’s dive in and discover the 20 famous musicians that hail from the heartland of America:

1. Kansas

Kansas - Carry On Wayward Son (Live from Canada Jam)Kansas – Carry On Wayward Son (Live from Canada Jam)

Kansas is a rock band who became popular for their unique blend of progressive rock and hard rock, which resulted in a string of hit albums in the 1970s and early 1980s.

Some of their most famous songs include “Carry On Wayward Son,” “Dust in the Wind,” and “Point of Know Return.” Kansas has achieved numerous accolades throughout their career, including a platinum album for “Leftoverture” and “Point of Know Return.”

2. Stan Kenton

Stan Kenton-MalaguenaStan Kenton-Malaguena

Stan Kenton was an American jazz pianist, composer, and bandleader who became famous for his innovative arrangements and compositions. He formed his first big band and quickly gained popularity for his unique sound, which incorporated elements of classical music, swing, and progressive jazz.

Some of his most famous compositions include “Artistry in Rhythm,” “Intermission Riff,” and “Eager Beaver.”

3. The Embarrassment

The Embarrassment "Sex Drive 2008"The Embarrassment “Sex Drive 2008”

The Embarrassment was a punk rock band. They became famous for their energetic live performances and a unique blend of punk and power pop.

The band released several albums throughout their career, including “Sex Drive” and “God Help Us.” Despite their relatively short career, The Embarrassment had a lasting impact on the punk rock and power-pop scenes.

4. Janelle Monáe

Janelle Monáe - Come Alive [Live at The Oscars 2020]Janelle Monáe – Come Alive [Live at The Oscars 2020]

Janelle Monáe is an American singer, rapper, and actress who became famous for her unique blend of funk, soul, and R&B tunes. She rose to prominence with her debut album, “The ArchAndroid,” which received critical acclaim and earned her a Grammy nomination. 

Monáe has since released several more albums, including “Dirty Computer” and “The Electric Lady.” She has also acted in several films, including “Hidden Figures” and “Moonlight.” Monáe has been praised for her unique fashion sense and her advocacy for LGBTQ rights.

5. Charlie Parker

Charlie Parker - Summertime (Jazz Instrumental)Charlie Parker – Summertime (Jazz Instrumental)

Nicknamed as “Bird” for his exceptional talent in jazz, Charlie Parker was an American jazz saxophonist and composer who became famous for his innovative improvisational style and contributions to the development of bebop. He played with some of the most famous jazz musicians of his time, including Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis. 

Parker’s most famous compositions include “Ko-Ko,” “Ornithology,” and “Now’s the Time.” He was a recipient of the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and has been inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of  Fame.

6. Melissa Etheridge

Melissa Etheridge - Come To My Window (Live at The Kodak Theatre)Melissa Etheridge – Come To My Window (Live at The Kodak Theatre)

Melissa Etheridge is a singer-songwriter and guitarist who gained fame in the late 1980s and early 1990s with her powerful vocals and rock-infused folk sound.

She has released over 16 albums and won two Grammy Awards. Some of her other famous songs include “I’m the Only One,” “Bring Me Some Water,” and “I Want to Come Over.”

7. Get Smart!

Get Smart! (band) - Because Of GreenGet Smart! (band) – Because Of Green

Get Smart! is a musical group that blends various genres such as new wave, alternative rock, and punk rock. The band’s music is characterized by its high-energy performances and catchy melodies.

Get Smart! has released three albums and several EPs, including “Action Reaction” and “Swimming With Sharks.”

8. Andy McKee

Rylynn by Andy McKeeRylynn by Andy McKee

Andy McKee is a talented fingerstyle guitarist famed for his complex, percussive playing style. He gained fame through his YouTube videos and has since released several successful albums, including “Nocturne” and “The Gates of Gnomeria.”

9. Martina McBride

Martina McBride — "'Til I Can Make It on My Own" — LiveMartina McBride — “‘Til I Can Make It on My Own” — Live

Martina McBride is a country music producer and singer-songwriter who has released 14 studio albums and won several awards, including the Country Music Association’s Female Vocalist of the Year award four times.

Some of her most famous songs include “Independence Day,” “A Broken Wing,” and “Concrete Angel.”

10. Chris Mann

Chris Mann - Roads - National Memorial Day ConcertChris Mann – Roads – National Memorial Day Concert

Chris Mann is an American singer and songwriter from Wichita, Kansas, who gained fame after appearing on the second season of the television show “The Voice.”

He has released several albums, including “Roads” and “Constellation,” and has toured extensively throughout the United States. Mann is known for his powerful vocals and diverse musical style, which includes pop, classical, and operatic music.

11. Joyce DiDonato

Joyce DiDonato sings 'Lascia ch’io pianga' from Handel’s Rinaldo,Joyce DiDonato sings ‘Lascia ch’io pianga’ from Handel’s Rinaldo,

Joyce DiDonato is an operatic mezzo-soprano from Prairie Village, Kansas. She has won multiple awards, including three Grammy Awards.

DiDonato has performed in some of the world’s most prestigious opera houses and is known for her stunning vocal range and emotive performances. Some of her recordings are “Don Giovanni,” “Floridante,” and “Little Women.”

12. Rory Feek

Joey+Rory - Are You Washed In The Blood (Live)Joey+Rory – Are You Washed In The Blood (Live)

Rory Feek is a country singer-songwriter who is known for his collaboration with his late wife, Joey Feek, as the duo Joey + Rory.

Together, they released several albums, including “Hymns” which won the Grammy Award for Best Roots Gospel Album. Some of his tracks are “The Chain of Love,” “Some Beech,” and “The Truth About Men.”

13. Jerrod Niemann

Jerrod Niemann - Lover, Lover - Guitar Center Sessions on DIRECTVJerrod Niemann – Lover, Lover – Guitar Center Sessions on DIRECTV

Jerrod Niemann is a country music singer-songwriter. He has released seven studio albums, which includes “Long Hard Road,” “Free The Music,” and “High Noon” and has written songs for Garth Brooks. Some of his most famous songs include “Lover, Lover,” “What Do You Want,” and “Drink to That All Night.”

14. Kendall Schmidt

Kendall Schmidt - Blame it on the mistletoe LIVEKendall Schmidt – Blame it on the mistletoe LIVE

Kendall Schmidt is an American singer, songwriter, producer and actor from Wichita, Kansas. He gained fame as a member of the boy band Big Time Rush, which released several successful albums and had its own television show on Nickelodeon. Some of the band’s best songs are “Big Time,” “Confetti Feeling,” “Cover Girl.”

15. XV

XV - Awesome (Live AOL sessions)XV – Awesome (Live AOL sessions)

XV, real name Donavan LaMond Johnson, is a rapper and songwriter who is known for his unique style and intricate rhymes. He gained popularity with his mixtapes, such as “Everybody’s Nobody” and “Vizzy Zone,” which featured collaborations with artists such as Sez Betters and Pusha-T.

XV has released several albums, including “The Kid with the Green Backpack” and “Zero Heroes.”

16. The Appleseed Cast

The Appleseed Cast - Steps and Numbers (Live in Vancouver)The Appleseed Cast – Steps and Numbers (Live in Vancouver)

The Appleseed Cast is a  rock band from Lawrence, Kansas, known for their atmospheric sound and intricate guitar work.

They have released over 9 albums, including “Low Level Owl,” which is considered one of the best emo albums of all time. The Appleseed Cast has toured extensively and has been praised for their live performances.

17. Mates of State

Mates of State - Beautiful DreamerMates of State – Beautiful Dreamer

Mates of State is an indie pop duo composed of married couple Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel. They have released several albums, including “Bring It Back” and “Re-Arrange Us,” and are known for their catchy melodies and vocal harmonies. 

18. Grace VanderWaal

Grace VanderWaal - Riptide (Live on the Honda Stage at Brooklyn Art Library)Grace VanderWaal – Riptide (Live on the Honda Stage at Brooklyn Art Library)

Grace VanderWaal is a singer-songwriter and ukulele player from Lenexa, Kansas. She gained fame after winning the eleventh season of “America’s Got Talent” in 2016, where she performed her original songs.

VanderWaal has covered songs and released several successful albums, including “Just the Beginning” and “Stargirl Soundtrack.” They have been praised for her unique voice and songwriting skills.

19. Hattie McDaniel

Hattie McDaniel - I Thought I'd Do ItHattie McDaniel – I Thought I’d Do It

Hattie McDaniel was an American actress, singer, and comedian. She was the first black artist to win an Oscar and Academy Award, which she won for her role in “Gone with the Wind.”

Being inducted in the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame, McDaniel was also a talented singer and performed on radio and in clubs throughout her career.

20. Logan Mize

Logan Mize - "Grew Apart" (Live Performance)Logan Mize – “Grew Apart” (Live Performance)

Logan Mize is a country music singer-songwriter who has released several successful albums, including “Nobody in Nashville” and “Come Back Road,” and has written songs for artists such as Dierks Bentley and Blake Shelton.

Mize is known for his soulful voice and heartfelt lyrics, which have earned him a devoted fan base and over 20 million Spotify music streams.


Looking back on the achievements of these musical legends from Kansas, we can’t help but feel grateful for the gifts of music that these musicians have given us.

The diversity of their sound, songwriting skills, and unique voices have not only entertained us but also moved fellow artists. So, if you’re searching for a state filled with exceptional musicians, Kansas got you covered.

Kansas Featured Image (Top-Left) by: DanielleCannova, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Melissa Etheridge Featured Image (Top-Right) by: Angela George, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Martina McBride Featured Image (Bottom-Left) by: Salva1745, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Grace VanderWaal Featured Image (Bottom-Right) by: UPROXX, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons