Oklahoma is home to some of the greatest singers, songwriters and performers in country, rock and other genres of music. After re-discovering some notable bands that also call Oklahoma home, I decided to delve into how the greats got their start.

Reba McEntire

In many cases with "making it music," success greatly depends being at the right place at the right time. The same can be said for Reba, who was discovered while singing the National Anthem at the National Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma. Although her career at the time was singing with her siblings as the "Singing McEntires," a special someone was in the crowd while she sang alone for the anthem. Country artist Red Steagall heard her, got her a recording session and the rest is history.

Garth Brooks

When you're competing with hundreds of thousands of other artists, persistence can pay off - like it did for Garth Brooks. According to the Nashville Songwriters Foundation, Garth was discovered by "auditioning for Capitol Records, both at the label's office and at the Bluebird Café." To this day, the Bluebird Cafe is still widely known for having "the greats" grace its stage - the greatest of songwriters, to be exact.

Toby Kieth

In the music industry, who you know plays a key role in where you go and how far. Clinton, Oklahoma native Toby Kieth worked in the oil field and played football while performing with his band. He recorded a tape that he handed out during his time in Nashville, performing constantly. He was striving, without success at first, to get in front of the right people. It wasn't until one of his tapes found its way to Harold Shedd, thanks to one of Kieth's fans who happened to be one of the flight attendants on Shedd's flight.

Joe Diffie

You can't fake talent. For Joe Diffie, his talent drew eyes, ears and, eventually, bodies to his shows. But it all started with a song he co-wrote and was recorded by another artist. According to joediffie.com, "his first break came when Holly Dunn recorded “There Goes My Heart Again” and asked him to sing harmony."

Vince Gill

Good music very often runs in the family. For Vince Gill, his parents both played (and played well), but had full-time careers that only allowed music to be their escape. He said in an interview:

"It’s how I started: playing with my dad when I was a little boy and he sat down and showed me chords. And my grandmother played piano in church. And whether it was the church house, or jam sessions at people’s houses, or back porch pickings, it all seems to stem from family."

He, on the other hand, chased the dream from the start, moving to Louisville and playing for several bluegrass bands. After years of playing, he took to the studio and wrote and recorded with numerous famous artists. After working with MCA Records in 1989 and producer Tony Brown, he released the classic When I Call Your Name, which kicked off his real success in music.

Cross Canadian Ragweed

The band of Okies and Texans formed in Yukon, Oklahoma got their start in Stillwater, Oklahoma, also known as "West Nashville" by some. While working hard in the oilfield, lead singer Cody Canada would visit Stillwater to grab some grub and just play music, money being no concern. After almost becoming a hired hand for the Great Divide, Canada drew Mike McClure's attention, eventually becoming Cross Canadian Ragweed's in-studio producer.

Although it is closed now, The Wormy Dog Saloon was one of the kick-off bars that gave Cross Canadian Ragweed a chance to shine. And since then, they've made Red Dirt Music history.

Blake Shelton

Once again, we've got a case of the "who knows who" working in someone's benefit: namely Blake Shelton. In his early high school years, Shelton happened to perform in front of songwriter Mae Boren Axton, who encouraged his growth and eventually helped him break into the Nashville music scene after graduation. He worked painting houses by day and learning the trade while performing at night.

According to Britannica, Shelton received his "big break" when he played a private song or two in front of Bobby Braddock at Braddock's house. This break came after Shelton met a few men who believed in him enough to get him a publishing deal and get Braddock on the phone. After Braddock took Shelton under his wing, he joined Giant Records, who distributed the classic country song "Austin."

Everyone starts from somewhere, including the greats. When they first started, they faced a lot of doubt, struggle and trials. But, the timing was just right and luck was on their side. And now Oklahoma is on the musical map thanks to artists like these.

Who is your favorite artist from Oklahoma? Who do you think we will see as one of the greats? Tell us on the app.

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