CMT All-Time Top 40: Taylor Swift

Country Stars Count Down Their Favorite Artists

Taylor Swift makes the list of CMT All-Time Top 40: Artists Choice at No. 16.

A list of the most influential artists in history chosen by country stars themselves, another honoree is revealed each week on CMT Hot 20 Countdown .

George Strait, Hunter Hayes, Cole Swindell, the Oak Ridge Boys and Big & Rich were just some of the artists who cited Swift as an iconic singer, songwriter and role model.

Many of the country stars praised Swift for her abilities as a live performer.

“My God, she’s huge now,” said Strait, who had Swift on his tour as an opening act in 2007. “Nobody really knew who Taylor was at that time, and it was me and her and Ronnie Milsap. It was a great package. I don’t know how many people she played for before then, but it was a little different for her, especially going with the round stage because it’s a little different anyway. But, man, she took to it like a duck to water. I mean, it was just a couple of nights before she had it down, and she’s a great entertainer. I love Taylor.”

“She always has such an intense production,” Hayes agreed. “Just an emotional, moving sort of extension of the music. The songs already mean so much. She’s a writer from such a real place, things you can really relate to … the kind of songs you can flip on and immediately connect with. But it’s where she takes it live that’s another step beyond. It’s one of the most entertaining shows I’ve ever seen. She always gives 110 percent, you know? One hundred percent is not enough.”

Swindell said Swift is an inspiration for musicians who are just starting out.

“I respect her as an artist,” he said. “She writes most of her music, and she deals with the critics and everybody. She’s just a sweet person, and the way she treats her fans is really an inspiration to me and how I want to treat my fans. She’s very involved and, I mean, look at her shows. … I just think she’s a great role model for kids. I think girls that look up to her are looking up to a good girl, and she’s an amazing artist.”

Speaking from a slightly more experienced point of view, the Oak Ridge Boys’ Joe Bonsall had this to say:

“You’ve got to love Taylor Swift and what she has done,” he began. “I equate her with Bruce Springsteen. I wrote a piece about her in Country Weekly magazine a while back, about an older guy’s feelings for Taylor Swift. I can’t identify too much with some of the songs she sings — I’m 65 years old, for crying out loud — but do I love her? Yes, I do. I think she’s a great example for kids these days. Do I think she’s gonna get bigger and bigger and bigger? I’d say the sky is the limit for Taylor.”

“Let me tell you what Taylor Swift is,” said Big & Rich’s John Rich. “She’s a kickass songwriter. That girl knows what she’s doing. And whatever she does for the rest of her life, she will always be a great songwriter and have my respect.”

“We’ve always watched her career, and it’s been absolutely amazing,” Big Kenny continued. “From such a young age, the talent she’s possessed and the forthrightness she’s gone about her whole career with, I think she’s just exceptional and has been an amazing role model in our industry and in our genre. Just across the board, a total class act.”

Check out the rest of the CMT All-Time Top 40: Artists Choice list, and find out who will be announced each Saturday at 11 a.m. ET/PT on CMT Hot 20 Countdown.