Portraits of Country Music's Top Stars

My Country: Portraits of Country Music's Top Stars
© My Country by Melanie Dunea / CPi / Rodale Books

Dwight Yoakam
Describe your ultimate musical performance.
Any that reminds me of the thrill and excitement of playing music in front of a live audience at 16 ... or feels as exciting as it was to watch a performance of many of my musical heroes on television when I was a kid.

What makes country music the heart and soul of America?
When it's done with instinctive purity, as with the other uniquely American musical forms — blues, rock 'n' roll, jazz — it can express universal emotional truths.

Favorite songs:
As soon as I think of five, I realize there are 25, and at that moment there are 50 more. On any given day there are just too many places to start that list.

Get the Latest Photos from Time.com
Get TIME photos and pictures of the week delivered directly to your inbox.