Minnesota may be known for its lakes, cold weather, and friendly people, but it also has a rich musical heritage that has produced some of the most influential musicians, rappers, and bands of our time. From Bob Dylan to Prince, Minnesota has given birth to some of the most iconic and innovative artists in the world of music.
You may have heard that there’s a lot of great musicians from Minnesota…and that’s what today’s article is all about. Legendary musicians, rappers and bands from the Land of 10,000 Lakes! These are the most famous musicians from Minnesota.
Hey guys, it’s Jack from Travel with Jack and Kitty.
I’ve been really looking forward to writing today’s article. I’ve been a musician all my life. My wife Kitty is also a composer and musician. She actually is the niece of reggae legend Bunny Wailer…the band leader of Bob Marley and the Wailers. And yes, Kitty had an uncle named Bunny! But we’re not here today to talk about our music…although if you wanna listen to us on Spotify, at the bottom of this post I’ll include a few links. LOL.
But we’re not here to chat about us, hehe, we’re here to talk Minnesota and the crazy amount of cool musicians that call Minnie home!
Do you ever find yourself wondering…is Minnesota a good place to live? Read our pros and cons post from a local and find out now: https://jackandkitty.com/2023/04/is-minnesota-a-good-place-to-live-2023-pros-and-cons-honest-opinion-from-local
Famous Musicians from Minnesota
Minnesota has a vibrant music scene with many famous musicians, rappers, and bands that have made an impact on the industry. Some of the most notable names include:
A legendary musician, singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist who was born in Minneapolis. He is regarded as one of the greatest musicians of all time, and his music has influenced many genres, including funk, R&B, and pop.
2. Bob Dylan
Another iconic musician and songwriter who was born in Duluth, Minnesota. He is known for his poetic lyrics, distinctive voice, and contributions to the folk and rock music genres.
A singer, rapper, and flutist who was born in Detroit but raised in Houston and Minneapolis. She gained mainstream popularity in the 2010s with her empowering and body-positive pop and hip-hop music.
4. Yung Gravy
Yung Gravy is an American rapper, singer, and songwriter. He was born in Rochester, Minnesota, and gained popularity in 2016 with his song “Mr. Clean,” which went viral on the internet. Since then, he has released several successful singles and mixtapes, such as “1 Thot 2 Thot Red Thot Blue Thot” and “Betty (Get Money).”
5. Owl City
Owl City is the stage name of Adam Young, an American singer, songwriter, and electronic music producer. He was born on July 5, 1986, in Owatonna, Minnesota, and began making music in his parents’ basement as a teenager. Owl City gained worldwide recognition in 2009 with his hit single “Fireflies,” which topped the charts in several countries and earned him a Grammy nomination.
Other famous musicians and bands from Minneapolis include rockers Hüsker Dü, Soul Asylum, and the Replacements as well as bluegrass/folk band Trampled by Turtles.
The rap and hip-hop scene here is pretty crazy too. Some names you may have heard of are: Atmosphere, Doomtree and Brother Ali. Here’s a picture of Brother Ali and me shopping for snacks at the Wedge Community Co-op in Minneapolis.
Do You Love Minnesota Music?!
Here’s a few recommendations for the Minnesota music fan in your life. Vinyl, books, merch…these make great gifts for family, friends…or yourself!
Earlier Famous Musicians from Minnesota: Another Era…
Minnesota has a rich musical history, and many musicians from the state became famous in the olden days. Here are some notable musicians from Minnesota who achieved fame in the past:
1. Judy Garland
A singer and actress born in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, who became a Hollywood icon in the 1930s and 1940s. She is best known for her role as Dorothy in the movie “The Wizard of Oz.”
2. The Andrews Sisters
A vocal group from Minneapolis consisting of three sisters: LaVerne, Maxene, and Patty. They rose to fame in the 1930s and 1940s with their close harmonies and swing music. My grandma actually went to high school with the Andrews Sisters…which was kinda neat to hear about.
3. Eddie Cochran
A rock and roll musician born in Albert Lea, Minnesota in 1938. He became famous in the late 1950s with hits like “Summertime Blues” and “C’mon Everybody.”
Obscure but important musicians from Minnesota?
Minnesota has a rich musical history, and there are many obscure but important musicians from the state who have made significant contributions to various genres. Here are some notable examples:
1. Leo Kottke
A virtuoso acoustic guitarist who was born in Athens, Georgia, but grew up in Minnesota. He is known for his intricate fingerpicking style and has released over 20 albums since his debut in 1969.
2. Spider John Koerner
A blues and folk musician who was part of the 1960s Greenwich Village folk scene. He was born in Rochester, Minnesota and has released numerous albums since his debut in 1963. He played with Tony Glover and Dave Ray in a group creatively named Koerner, Ray & Glover. They were mentors to Bob Dylan in his early days in Minneapolis. I’ve played a few shows with Spider John, and even recorded with Tony Glover – and that was a lot of fun.
3. Charlie Parr
Speaking of folks I’ve worked with, Charlie is a good friend. He’s a folk musician from Duluth who has been active since the early 2000s. He is known for his fingerpicked guitar style and his raw, honest songwriting. I was lucky enough to include Charlie in “Jug Band Hokum”, the 2015 film that I co-directed with my wife Kitty. We ended up doing a song together for the soundtrack. A few years later, Kitty and I re-released the movie as a web-series which you can watch on YouTube.
Well there you have it…there’s hundreds of other musicians I could (and probably should) mention…but I just wanted to chat with you about some of the biggest names from Minnesota.
Minnesota’s musical legacy is rich and diverse, with artists from a wide range of genres and styles. Whether you’re a fan of folk music, hip-hop, punk rock, or anything in between, there’s a good chance that some of your favorite artists have roots in Minnesota.
Thanks for visiting with us today and before you go – be sure to comment who you’re favorite Minnesota musician is? Am I missing any? Lemme know below. Thanks again for reading.
Have a super day!
LISTEN TO JACK AND KITTY ON SPOTIFY
Kitty Norton (experimental/electro/pop)
Jack Norton (vintage/folk)
Jack & Kitty (folk)
The Zinghoppers (soundtrack to our old PBS Kids series)
About the Authors
Jack and Kitty Norton are Emmy Award winning travel experts. They have spent a lifetime on the road: as traveling musicians, documentary filmmakers and television producers. They now focus on writing for their travel blog (JackAndKitty.com) and making fun videos for their YouTube channel. Jack and Kitty offer travelers fun and quirky things to do in Minnesota, the Midwest and beyond. High school sweethearts turned married soulmates, the couple lives in the small college town of Winona, Minnesota and would love to have you over for some hotdish.