The Richest Country Singers Might Surprise You

It seems like every celebrity is a multi-hyphenate these days, and country singers are no exception. Along with their original careers in music, there are many who also have acting or broadcasting roles, passion projects, and business ventures. These side jobs not only expose them to the public who may not be country music fans, but also generate additional income.

However, music remains the biggest moneymaker for country superstars, especially from live concerts, tours, or a lucrative Las Vegas residency. As 30-year veteran Tim McGraw told Forbes, "[W]hen I first started out, it was about selling records and you sold a lot of records. That was on the same playing field as touring ... Now, it's not about selling records anymore because nobody really sells records, and when you do, it's not that much money involved in it. So, it's about touring where money is made."

This business model is indicative of an ever-changing music industry that's currently in the era of digital streaming and post-pandemic concerts. To have a long career, McGraw says singers are "constantly shifting, you're constantly looking at the landscape, and trying to figure out the best way to go about it." Read on for some country singers who have not only survived, but thrived in the cutthroat music business to become some of the richest celebrities in the world.

Carrie Underwood built a side career in the health and fitness industry

With a net worth of $140 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth, Carrie Underwood is the richest "American Idol" winner. Since winning the show in 2005, she has gone on to set many records, including being the female artist with the most studio albums (nine) debuting at No. 1 on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart. She is also the top-winning artist at the CMT Awards with 25 awards, and is the No. 1 female artist in country music history for digital singles with over 70 million certifications (per Underwood's official website).

After a year of holding virtual performances due to the pandemic, Underwood returned to the stage in her sold-out, 18-date "REFLECTION: The Las Vegas Residency" in December 2021. She was the first artist to perform at the 5,000-capacity Resorts World Theatre, which is the largest and tallest stage in Las Vegas (per CMT). She plans on returning to Las Vegas in 2023 after her 43-city "Denim and Rhinestones" tour ends in March.

In 2015, Underwood partnered with Dick's Sporting Goods to launch the top-selling CALIA, an activewear brand for women; she announced her last collection on her Instagram in November of 2021. She is also the author of The New York Times bestseller "FIND YOUR PATH: Honor Your Body, Fuel Your Soul, and Get Strong with the Fit52 Life," which she also launched with the Fit52 fitness app.

Alan Jackson is still touring despite a nerve disorder

Alan Jackson's net worth is $150 million according to Celebrity Net Worth, and a majority of that amount comes from his over 75 million records sold worldwide and 35 songs that hit No. 1 on the charts (per The Tennessean). His many honors include being inducted into both the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame, winning CMA Awards entertainer of the year three times, and being named CMT's 2022 "Artist of a Lifetime."

In June 2022, Jackson embarked on his 16-city "Last Call: One More for the Road" tour. This was the first time he had gone on tour since revealing the year before that he had been suffering from a nerve condition called Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease for the past 10 years. "I know I'm stumbling around on stage and now I'm having a little trouble balancing even in front of the microphone," the singer told "Today" (via The Tennessean).

Despite his health issues and the name of the tour, Jackson said in his tour announcement, "I've always admired my heroes ... who just played as much as they wanted to, as long as they could. I've always thought I'd like to do that, and I'd like to as long as my health will allow. I'll try to do as much as I can" (via Billboard). A dollar from every ticket sale goes toward the CMT Research Foundation's fund for Charcot-Marie-Tooth drug development.

Luke Bryan doesn't want to know how much his family spends

Pre-pandemic, Luke Bryan was one of the highest-earning celebrities, placing No. 62 on Forbes' 2020 Celebrity 100 with earnings of $45.5 million. From concerts, his average gross per city exceeded $1 million, and his salary as an "American Idol" judge is reportedly $12 million per season. According to Celebrity Net Worth, his current net worth is $160 million.

In February 2022, with his "Luke Bryan: Vegas" residency (per Country Living), Bryan became the third resident at the Resorts World Theatre after his fellow country star Carrie Underwood and "American Idol" co-judge Katy Perry. After his "Raised up Right Tour" ends, he'll be back in Vegas for more shows until April 2023 (per Bryan's website).

With his packed schedule — which also includes owning Luke's 32 Bridge Food + Drink in Nashville — Bryan was asked by PopCulture if there is any other area he'd like to conquer. "People ask me, 'Would you act?' ... I mean if the right little movie role were to come along, maybe, probably not though," the singer said, adding that "[i]t's really important for me to focus on music and focus on it first." 

And perhaps Bryant's biggest flex is that he lets his family spend his money without his interference. "Me and my business manager, we have an agreement," he said in an interview for CMT Hot 20 Countdown. "He's never allowed to tell me what my family members cost me annually."

Kenny Chesney sold a majority of his music catalog for an undisclosed amount

While Celebrity Net Worth reports that Kenny Chesney's net worth is $180 million, it is probably a lot more in light of the news in January 2022 of the singer selling 80% of his recorded music royalties to Hipgnosis Song Management. The catalog includes 22 albums, from Chesney's 1994 debut "In My Wildest Dreams" to 2017's "Live in No Shoes Nation" (per Variety). The financial terms were not disclosed, but for reference, singer Neil Young sold 50% of the rights to his song catalog to Hipgnosis for $150 million in 2021 (per MarketWatch).

Along with Chesney's 30 million albums sold and nine No. 1s on the Billboard 200 albums chart for all genres, he is a touring powerhouse. According to Billboard, his post-pandemic "Here and Now" tour of 41 shows grossed $135 million and sold 1.3 million tickets. It's his highest-grossing tour in his three-decades-long career and his second-highest in terms of ticket sales. It also became his 13th tour to cross the million mark as well as his third $100 million tour. Cumulatively, Chesney's tours have grossed a whopping $1.2 billion and sold 17.9 million tickets.

Much of Chesney's success can also be attributed to his attitude of being as hands-on as possible with the business part of his career. He once said in an interview with The New York Times, "I'm so hands-on ... It's exhausting, but that's me."

Tim McGraw and Faith Hill have become even more successful from working together

Tim McGraw and Faith Hill each have made their individual marks on country music, and together they have a combined net worth of $200 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. According to E! News, the couple first co-headlined their "Soul2Soul" tour in 2000 out of a desire to only be separated from each other for a few days. It grossed over $50 million, and their subsequent tours together — "Soul2Soul II" from 2006-2007 and "Soul2Soul: The World Tour" from 2017-2018 — are in the top 10 highest-grossing country music tours of all time at $1.41 million and $79 million, respectively (per Wide Open Country). Their first duet album together, 2017's "The Rest of Our Life," topped Billboard's Top Country Albums chart, which marked McGraw's 16th No. 1 on the chart and Hill's 4th (per Sounds Like Nashville).

Both country superstars are also actors, and 2021's "1883" marked the second time the couple acted together after filming a flashback scene in "Yellowstone." In a Forbes interview, McGraw talked about how he didn't want to play "just some singing cowboy," and how he and Hill were very conscious of their identities as a couple and as singers. "[T]here's a fine line of carrying the chemistry that we have together as a married couple and erasing who we are as famous people to become these characters," he said.

George Strait holds several chart and touring records

Known as the "King of Country," George Strait owns several records for platinum album certifications, song charting, and single concert attendance, all of which have contributed to his net worth of $300 million (per Celebrity Net Worth). The singer has 33 platinum or multi-platinum albums, which places him third in this category behind The Beatles and Elvis. As for his songs, Strait has 60 No. 1 singles — the most of any artist in any genre — and is also the only "the only act in history to have a top 10 hit every year for over three decades" (per Strait's official site).

On the last day of his 44-city, two-year "The Cowboy Rides Away" farewell tour, Strait set a single concert attendance record that he still holds as of this writing. On June 7, 2014, a total of 104,793 fans packed AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, the largest attendance at a North American indoor venue. At the time, Strait actually broke his own record of 80,020 attendees at Houston's Reliant Stadium in 2013 (per Billboard).

And while Strait has stopped touring, he hasn't stopped performing or reaching more milestones. Since 2016, the singer has had his "Strait to Vegas" residency at the T-Mobile Arena. After his two shows in 2020, his career total for concert ticket sales passed 10 million, making him the eighth soloist in history and the second country artist after Kenny Chesney to reach that number (per Billboard).

Toby Keith has slowed his career down after years of hard work

Toby Keith's 2021 "Peso in My Pocket" was the first album he had released in six years. After selling 40 million albums and producing 32 No. 1 hits, Keith said that at some point before the pandemic, he realized that "busting my ass every year to put an album out like I'd been doing for a couple of decades didn't make as much sense ... so I decided to enjoy my time more and cut my shows back" (per Keith's official site). In June 2022, the singer also revealed that he had been diagnosed with stomach cancer and had been receiving treatment for the past six months. Consequently, all the concerts he had planned for 2022 were canceled.

Despite slowing down from the grind, Keith's net value is $365 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. His wealth comes from his nearly 30-year musical career and also his many business ventures. He is the owner of the I Love This Bar & Grill restaurant chain, which at one point had restaurants in over 20 cities across the U.S. and was estimated to be bringing in $12 million a year, per Forbes. Keith launched his premium mezcal called Wild Shot in 2011, and by the end of the year, it was No. 1 in its category in the U.S. He also co-founded Big Machine Records in 2005, and received a percentage of what its artists made.

Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood hold multiple touring records together

Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood have a combined net worth of $400 million, with an estimated $300 to $350 million of that amount attributed to Brooks (per Celebrity Net Worth). Brooks holds the U.S. record for the most albums sold by a soloist across all genres (157 million) and is the first artist to have singles in the top five of the country charts for five consecutive decades since the '80s (per Brooks' official site). Together, the couple holds several North American touring records with "The Garth Brooks World Tour with Trisha Yearwood." The three-year tour, which ended in 2017, sold 6.7 million tickets and is the highest-grossing country music tour at $364.3 million (per Wide Open Country).

While Brooks is one of the most accomplished singers of all time, he credits Yearwood as "the busiest person on this planet" and proudly admits that "[i]t's pretty good to be the queen's husband" (via CultureMap Houston). Along with her own successful music career, Yearwood has her Emmy-winning "Trisha's Southern Kitchen" on the Food Network, has written three New York Times-bestselling cookbooks, and has her own cookware and furniture lines. "I was looking for some way to be creative and I wrote this cookbook with my mom and my sister, and I never dreamed it would turn into anything," she told CultureMap. "I think for me, things just come along organically and I follow the path."

Shania Twain became one of the best-selling artists despite heartbreak

Often called the "Queen of Country Pop," as she was one of the first country artists to successfully cross over to pop music, Shania Twain has a net worth of $400 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. She has sold over 100 million albums throughout her career, with nearly half of the sales coming from 1997's "Come on Over." At 40 million albums sold, it's the world's best-selling album by a female soloist and the highest-selling country music album (per the Guinness World Records).

Twain's road to enormous wealth wasn't without pain and tragedy. Growing up, her mother and stepfather couldn't afford to pay the bills or buy food, and when they both died in a tragic car crash, she took care of her siblings. "Coming from where I came from, it was unimaginable to ever be wealthy," she told Oprah Winfrey in 2011. Later, Twain nearly lost her voice to Lyme disease and her first husband committed adultery with her former friend and assistant.

However, with her voice back and in a happy second marriage, Twain looks forward to a future that includes more music and a possible biopic. After releasing her first single in five years with "Waking Up Dreaming" in 2022 and releasing her biographical Netflix documentary, "Not Just a Girl," the singer told The Sun in 2022, "All sorts of things are in the pipeline ... I've got a very busy few years ahead of me."

Dolly Parton believes the more she gives, the more she gets back

Dolly Parton's enormous resume of accomplishments, roles, and business ventures has resulted in a net worth of $650 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth, but her philanthropic efforts are even more impressive. The $1 million she donated through her Dolly Parton COVID-19 Research Fund went to the development of the Moderna vaccine (per Forbes). Meanwhile, Imagination Library fights illiteracy by providing books for children all over the world between birth and school age (per Money).

Parton grew up poor, watching her parents "stretch a dollar farther than you could begin to imagine," she told Money. It made her thankful for her success and shaped her financial philosophy. "It seems like the more I give, the more I get," she added. "Money is like the tide: It rolls in and it rolls out. If you clutch it, you are not going to keep it."

With her natural business sense, Parton is always on the lookout for new projects and business opportunities — including the possibility of selling the rights to her back catalog of over 3,000 songs. "I would not be above doing that. All I would do then is to take that money and do whatever for my family or other businesses," she said to BBC (via NME). "Then I would start a whole new publishing company, start over in a few years, sell that too if I wanted to. Never say never, as they say."