Toby Keith

Toby Keith spent the '90s as a solid, workmanlike country star who met with considerable chart success, yet never quite broke free of the neo-traditionalist pack to become a household name like Garth Brooks or Alan Jackson. That all changed in 2002 when he recorded "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)," a response to September 11 that became one of country's most highly charged political statements since Merle Haggard's "Okie from Muskogee." The media furor ensured that even people with no knowledge of country music still knew him as "the guy with the 'boot in the ass' song," and helped make Keith a genuine phenomenon. Yet he'd been recording for nearly a decade prior and already had several chart-topping country singles to his credit.