Since its debut in 2002, 'American Idol' has become one of the most important vehicles for discovering new musical artists across all genres. First season winner Kelly Clarkson has flirted with country music, but season 4 winner Carrie Underwood is by far the biggest country star the show has launched, scoring 14 No. 1 hits and winning CMA, ACM and even Grammy awards for her work. Season 10 winner Scotty McCreery is also a fast-rising country star now, but in addition to the winners, a number of runners-up have gone on to successful country careers, including Bucky Covington, Kellie Pickler, Casey James and Lauren Alaina. Keith Urban joined the show as a judge in season 12, further cementing its connection to country music.
- Debut Air Date: June 11, 2002 on FOX
- Top Country Winners: Carrie Underwood, Scotty McCreery
- Did You Know? Lady Antebellum singer Hillary Scott auditioned for ‘Idol’ twice, and did not make it past the first round either time.
- Further Reading: Top 10 ‘American Idol’ Country Singers