Minnesota, the state known for its abundant lakes and cold winters, has produced an impressive array of musical talent over the years. From the iconic pop star Prince to the indie rock band The Replacements, Minnesota has given rise to some of the most influential musicians of the past few decades. The state’s thriving music scene has paved the way for aspiring artists to achieve international success and has made it a hub for musical innovation.
Throughout the years, Minnesota has seen the emergence of various genres, including rock, pop, hip hop, folk, and country. This diversity in musical styles has created a rich tapestry of sound that continues to inspire and captivate audiences worldwide. In this article, we will take a closer look at 20 of the most famous singers from Minnesota who have left their mark on the music industry.
These singers range from legendary figures like Bob Dylan and Judy Garland to contemporary artists such as Lizzo and Jeremy Messersmith. We will delve into their musical journeys, examining the influences that shaped their sound, the challenges they faced along the way, and the milestones they achieved in their careers.
Whether you are a lifelong fan or a newcomer to the Minnesota music scene, this article will provide an in-depth look at the state’s musical heritage and showcase the talents of some of its most prominent artists.
Prince, born in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1958, was a legendary musician known for his innovative and eclectic style, which blended elements of funk, rock, pop, and R&B. With hits like “Purple Rain,” “When Doves Cry,” and “Kiss,” Prince dominated the 1980s music scene and became an iconic figure in popular culture. His flamboyant fashion choices and provocative lyrics challenged societal norms and pushed the boundaries of artistic expression. Prince’s music continues to influence artists around the world, and his legacy as a trailblazer in the music industry will always be remembered.
2. Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan, born in Duluth, Minnesota in 1941, is a singer-songwriter and one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. Known for his poetic lyrics and distinct voice, Dylan’s music spans a wide range of genres, including folk, rock, blues, and country. His songs, such as “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” became anthems for the civil rights movement and have inspired generations of activists. Dylan’s impact on music and culture is immeasurable, and he continues to create new music and tour today, cementing his place in history as a true musical icon.
3. Yung Gravy
Yung Gravy, born Matthew Hauri in 1996, is an American rapper, singer, and songwriter from Minnesota. He gained popularity in 2016 with his debut single “Mr. Clean,” which went viral on social media platforms. Yung Gravy is known for his unique blend of trap music and comedy, often incorporating humorous and nostalgic references into his lyrics. He has released several mixtapes and albums, including “Snow Cougar,” “Sensational,” and “Gasanova.” Yung Gravy’s music has been described as a mix of old-school rap, modern trap, and tongue-in-cheek humor. He has collaborated with artists such as bbno$ and Lil Baby, and continues to gain a devoted following among fans of alternative hip-hop.
4. Jane Russell
Jane Russell (1921-2011) was an American actress and model known for her roles in Hollywood films during the 1940s and 1950s. She started her career as a model, and in 1943, was discovered by Hollywood mogul Howard Hughes, who cast her in “The Outlaw,” a controversial film that propelled her to stardom. Russell went on to appear in a number of successful films, including “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” with Marilyn Monroe. She was also known for her work as a spokesperson for various causes, including adoption and cancer awareness. Russell was widely regarded as a sex symbol of her time and remains an icon of classic Hollywood glamour.
5. Ryan McCartan
Ryan McCartan is an American actor and singer known for his work in both television and stage productions. Born on June 14, 1993, in Minnesota, McCartan began his career in 2011 with a guest appearance on the show “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.” He gained wider recognition for his role as Diggie Smalls in the Disney Channel series “Liv and Maddie” (2013-2017). McCartan has also appeared in stage productions such as “Heathers: The Musical” and “Wicked.” In addition to his acting career, McCartan is also a singer and has released music as a solo artist and as part of the duo The Girl and the Dreamcatcher with his ex-fiancée, Dove Cameron.
6. Judy Garland
Judy Garland was an American actress, singer, and dancer, widely recognized as one of the greatest entertainers of the 20th century. Born Frances Ethel Gumm in 1922, Garland began her career at a young age performing with her sisters in vaudeville. She rose to fame with her role as Dorothy in the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz”, and went on to have a successful career in film, television, and on stage. Garland was known for her powerful vocals, emotional performances, and her ability to connect with audiences on a personal level. Despite struggles with addiction and personal issues, Garland remains an icon in the entertainment industry and a beloved figure in popular culture.
7. Tammy Faye Bakker
Tammy Faye Bakker was an American singer, evangelist, and television personality, best known for co-hosting the religious talk show, The PTL Club, with her husband, Jim Bakker. Born in 1942, Tammy Faye began her career as a gospel singer, and later became a televangelist with Jim Bakker. Together, they built a religious empire that included theme parks, a satellite network, and a Christian retreat. However, their success was short-lived as the Bakkers were embroiled in financial and personal scandals. Despite the controversies, Tammy Faye remained a beloved figure among many for her warm personality, kindness, and unwavering faith. She continued to perform and inspire others until her death in 2007.
8. Maxene Andrews
Maxene Andrews was an American singer and actress, best known as one-third of the Andrews Sisters, a popular vocal trio of the 1930s and 1940s. Born in 1916, Andrews began her career as a teenager singing with her sisters Patty and Laverne. The Andrews Sisters became one of the most successful female groups in history, with hits like “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” and “Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen”. Known for their close harmonies and energetic performances, the trio performed for soldiers during World War II and continued to tour and record for decades. Maxene Andrews passed away in 1995, leaving behind a legacy as a pioneering female musician and a symbol of the swing era.
9. Patty Andrews
Patty Andrews was an American singer and actress, best known as one-third of the Andrews Sisters, a popular vocal trio of the 1930s and 1940s. Born in 1918, Andrews began singing with her sisters Maxene and Laverne at a young age. The Andrews Sisters became one of the most successful female groups in history, with hits like “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” and “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree”. Known for their close harmonies and energetic performances, the trio performed for soldiers during World War II and continued to tour and record for decades. Patty Andrews passed away in 2013, leaving behind a legacy as a trailblazing female musician and an icon of the swing era.
10. Mod Sun
Mod Sun (stylized as MOD SUN) is an American musician, rapper, singer, and songwriter known for his unique blend of hip-hop, pop-punk, and alternative rock. Born Derek Ryan Smith in 1987, Mod Sun began his music career as a drummer for several bands before pursuing a solo career in 2008. He has released several albums, mixtapes, and EPs, including his most recent album, “Internet Killed the Rockstar”. Mod Sun is also known for his collaborations with other artists, including Machine Gun Kelly, Travis Barker, and Avril Lavigne. He has gained a dedicated following for his positive and uplifting lyrics, and his message of self-expression and individuality.
11. Bernie Leadon
Bernie Leadon is an American musician, songwriter, and founding member of the Eagles, one of the most successful rock bands of all time. He played guitar, banjo, mandolin, and various other instruments during his tenure with the band, which lasted from 1971 to 1975. Leadon contributed to many of the Eagles’ most memorable songs, including “Take It Easy,” “Witchy Woman,” and “Peaceful Easy Feeling.” After leaving the Eagles, he pursued a successful career as a session musician and solo artist, releasing several albums and collaborating with numerous other musicians.
12. Lexii Alijai
Lexii Alijai was an American rapper and singer from Minnesota. She first gained attention for her remixes of popular songs on YouTube, and went on to release several mixtapes and EPs, including “Joseph’s Coat” and “Growing Pains.” Her music often addressed themes of mental health, relationships, and social justice. Alijai collaborated with several notable artists, including Kehlani, K Camp, and Lil Durk. Tragically, she passed away in 2020 at the age of 21, leaving behind a promising career and a legacy as a talented and influential artist.
13. Cedric Yarbrough
Cedric Yarbrough is an American actor and comedian, best known for his roles in television shows such as “Reno 911!” and “Speechless,” as well as films like “Meet the Fockers” and “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.” Yarbrough has also lent his voice to several animated series, including “The Boondocks,” “The Cleveland Show,” and “Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness.” He has been praised for his versatility and comedic timing, and has received numerous award nominations for his work in the entertainment industry.
14. Tay Zonday
Tay Zonday is an American singer, songwriter, and YouTube personality, best known for his viral hit “Chocolate Rain.” The song, which features Zonday’s deep, resonant voice and socially conscious lyrics, has been viewed over 130 million times on YouTube since its release in 2007. Zonday has since released several albums and singles, and has continued to produce content for his YouTube channel, which has over 1 million subscribers. In addition to his music career, Zonday has also appeared in films and television shows, and has done voiceover work for several video games.
15. Tyka Nelson
Tyka Nelson is an American singer and songwriter, best known for her work in the R&B and pop genres. She is also the younger sister of the late music icon, Prince. Nelson released her debut album, “Royal Blue,” in 1988, which was produced by her brother. She has since released several more albums, including “Cool Keith’s Salvation Symphony” and “A Brand New Me.” Nelson has also written and performed music for films and television shows, including the theme song for the sitcom “Family Matters.”
16. Dave Pirner
Dave Pirner is an American singer, songwriter, and founding member of the alternative rock band, Soul Asylum. The band achieved mainstream success in the 1990s with hits like “Runaway Train” and “Somebody to Shove,” which featured Pirner’s distinctive voice and poetic lyrics. In addition to his work with Soul Asylum, Pirner has also released several solo albums and collaborated with other musicians, including the Afghan Whigs and Victoria Williams. He is known for his powerful and emotionally charged performances, and has been praised for his contributions to the alternative rock genre.
17. Don Moen
Don Moen is an American singer, songwriter, and worship leader in the Christian music genre. He has released over a dozen albums and written numerous songs, many of which have become popular hymns in churches around the world. Moen has won multiple Dove Awards, which honor excellence in Christian music, and has been recognized for his contributions to the genre through his work as a producer and music executive. He is also known for his philanthropic work, including founding a non-profit organization that supports clean water initiatives in developing countries.
18. Paul Westerberg
Paul Westerberg is an American singer, songwriter, and guitarist, best known as the frontman of the alternative rock band, The Replacements. The band gained a cult following in the 1980s with their raw, punk-influenced sound and Westerberg’s confessional lyrics. After The Replacements disbanded in 1991, Westerberg pursued a successful solo career, releasing several critically acclaimed albums and collaborating with other musicians, including Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. He has been praised for his songwriting ability and his influence on the alternative rock genre, and continues to perform and record music to this day.
19. Caitlyn Smith
Caitlyn Smith is an American singer and songwriter, known for her powerful voice and emotive lyrics. She has written songs for several notable musicians, including Meghan Trainor, John Legend, and Dolly Parton, and has released several albums and EPs of her own. Smith’s music blends elements of pop, country, and folk, and often explores themes of love, loss, and self-discovery. She has been praised for her songwriting ability and her ability to connect with audiences through her music.
20. Jonah Marais
Jonah Marais is an American singer and songwriter, best known as a member of the boy band, Why Don’t We. The band gained a following on social media before releasing their debut album, “8 Letters,” in 2018. Marais has also released several solo singles, showcasing his soulful voice and R&B-inspired sound. He has been praised for his musical talent and his ability to connect with fans through his honest and vulnerable lyrics. In addition to his music career, Marais has also acted in several television shows and films.
Macey West is a frequent contributor to Singers Room. Since 2005, Singersroom has been the voice of R&B around the world. Connect with us via social media below.