Each week, the next honoree is revealed on CMT Hot 20 Countdown .
Their first single, “Brand New Man,” shot to the top of Billboard’s country songs chart, ultimately to be followed by 19 more No. 1 hits like “Boot Scootin’ Boogie,” “My Maria,” “Ain’t Nothing ’Bout You” and “Red Dirt Road.”
Featuring Dunn’s distinctive vocal styling and Brooks’ natural onstage charisma, the duo’s contrasting personalities endeared them to fans, creating a dominant force in country music that lasted 20 years.
In 2010, Brooks & Dunn performed their final concert and now continue to pursue individual careers.
For most, it all begins with a singular voice.
“I never will forget the first time I heard Ronnie Dunn’s voice,” Bryan said. “It really, really changed my life, in my opinion. … I rode around as a teenager listening to Ronnie Dunn and trying to sing exactly like Ronnie Dunn. … He’s always had one of the biggest and most powerful voices, and together they just wrote unbelievable songs that made magic happen.
“Watch how him and Kix link yin and yang,” Bryan continued. “Ronnie was about standing up there singing, and Kix was about putting on a show and creating so much energy.”
Eldredge couldn’t agree more.
“One of the best duos of all time, easily,” he began. “For my money, I think Ronnie Dunn’s one of the best voices country music has ever seen. And just the charisma that Kix brought and the songs that they wrote, he and Kix were just incredible. That was, like, the reason that I got into country music.”
As country’s current hot duo, Florida Georgia Line say they owe a lot to Brooks & Dunn.
“Not only is Ronnie an amazing singer, but Kix is an amazing songwriter, performer and guitarist,” says Brian Kelley. “He just brings so much energy to the live show. He’s always running around, getting the crowd going and basically having a party and feeling the music, and that’s something we’ve always tried to do. That’s what they’ve always done a good job of — allowing everybody else to have a good time because they are. They’ve always put on a heck of a show and they are true entertainers.”
And for Owen, that reverence goes one step further.
“I love Ronnie Dunn, and Kix Brooks is one of the nicest human being you’ll ever meet,” he says. “[Two] of the great ambassadors of our format. They’re just guys you want to model your career after. They had a career that spanned a long period of time, and it’s because they put out great music, they’re good people and they had great people around them. I would like to model my career after people like that. That’s why I would say I’m a fan.”
Tune in to CMT Hot 20 Countdown each Saturday at 11 a.m. ET/PT to check out the next artist on CMT All-Time Top 40: Artists Choice .