(Left) Asylum Records / Fair Use / (Right) TheKinleysVEVO / YouTube
In 2021, The Judds became the eighth duo to join the Country Music Hall of Fame. Other duos in the CMHOF include The Everly Brothers, Brooks & Dunn, and Flatt & Scruggs.
Today, you’d have a had time finding a country fan who doesn’t know The Judds. But there are other country duos a majority of fans may not know as well…or at all.
These country duos have been “forgotten” mostly due to two factors. Number one being, the mere passage of time. Even if a duo was popular decades ago, modern audiences are likely less familiar with their work.
Number two, duos break up or end their run, sometimes after just a few years of performing. Because of this, they have less material for new fans to uncover.
All 15 of the “forgotten” duos featured in this list are no longer performing (with the exception of one, sort of…you’ll see). We wanted to shine a spotlight on them so you can rediscover their songs…or maybe encounter them for the first time.
Aaron Benward joined his friend, actor Scott Reeves, to form the duo Blue County in 2003. Benward previously performed in the contemporary Christian duo Aaron Jeoffrey.
Blue County released their debut single, “Good Little Girls,” in 2003. The song reached the 11th spot on the Hot Country Songs chart. It also crossed over to claim the 63rd spot on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100.
The duo followed up with the release of their debut, self-titled album in April 2004. That album produced two additional hit singles, “That’s Cool” and “Nothin’ but Cowboy Boots.”
Blue County released three more singles between 2005 and 2006, but never made another album. They recorded two songs featured on the soundtrack for the 2007 movie Evan Almighty before they stopped performing.
Sisters Lennon and Maisy Stella come from a musical family. Their parents are Brad and MaryLynne Stella of the country duo The Stellas.
Lennon & Maisy formed a duo of their own after they were cast in the ABC series Nashville. Before the show started, the girls’ YouTube channel took off when their cover of Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend” went viral. Many of their other cover performances have since earned millions of views as well.
The pair played sisters Maddie and Daphne Conrad across Nashville‘s entire run (from 2012-2018). Their version of The Lumineers’ “Ho Hey” from the Nashville soundtrack reached the 32nd spot on the Hot Country Songs chart.
Lennon & Maisy only released one album, which contained music from their famous YouTube sessions.
The last post the girls made on their duo’s Instagram page was in 2020, when Maisy celebrated Lennon’s 21st birthday. They still sing together from time to time, but not under the Lennon & Maisy name.
Michelle Branch and Jessica Harp were solo performers before they formed The Wreckers in 2005. They released their debut album, Stand Still, Look Pretty the following year. The album reached the fourth spot on the Top Country Albums chart.
Stand Still, Look Pretty contained the hit singles “Leave the Pieces,” “My, Oh My,” and “Tennessee.” The biggest hit was “Leave the Pieces,” which reached #1 on the Hot Country Songs chart and #34 on the all-genre Hot 100.
“Leave the Pieces” led The Wreckers to a Grammy nomination for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. They were also nominated for the CMA’s Vocal Duo of the Year award three times.
Much to fans’ shock, the Wreckers announced their split in 2008. Branch and Harp pursued their solo careers in the years that followed.
But in 2020, The Wreckers created an Instagram page, and seemed to be teasing a reunion. They finally performed together again at Bobby Bones’ charity benefit for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in February 2023.
Brothers Ricky Lee and Doug Phelps formed the country music duo Brother Phelps in 1992. Both brothers were previously members of the country-rock band The Kentucky Headhunters.
Brother Phelps released their debut album, Let Go, in 1993. Its title track was released as their debut single, and it reached the #6 position on the Hot Country Songs chart. Some of the duo’s other hits include “Were You Really Livin’,” “Eagle Over Angel,” and “Not So Different After All.”
Their second album, Any Way the Wind Blows, was released in 1995.
Over the course of their run, Brother Phelps was nominated for the CMA’s Vocal Duo of the Year Award two times. Their last nomination was in 1995, the same year they disbanded.
After going their separate ways, Doug rejoined The Kentucky Headhunters as their lead vocalist. He remains with the group to this day. Ricky Lee ended up pursuing a solo career.
Identical twin sisters Heather and Jennifer Kinley formed The Kinleys in 1997. They recorded three albums together: Just Between You and Me (released in 1997), II (released in 2000), and All in the Family (released in 2004).
Some of the duo’s biggest hits include the Top 10 single “Please,” and the Top 20 singles “Just Between You and Me” and “Somebody’s Out There Watching.” They earned a Grammy nomination for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for “Please.”
Additionally, The Kinleys were nominated for four CMA Awards and three ACM Awards. They won the ACM’s Top New Vocal Group or Duo Award in 1998.
The Kinleys disbanded after releasing All in the Family in 2004. A 2013 issue of Country Weekly praised them for “bravely” walking away after learning they didn’t love life on the road. They also wanted to start their families, and left music behind to do so.
Joy Williams and John Paul White formed The Civil Wars in 2009. Their first album, Barton Hallow, was released in 2011. The album later won the award for Best Folk Album at the 54th Grammy Awards. They also earned the Grammy for Best Country Duo/Group Performance for the album’s title track and lead single.
Other songs in the Civil Wars’ catalog include “Dust to Dust,” “The One That Got Away” “Kingdom Come” and “From This Valley” They won another Grammy in 2014 for the latter song.
The Civil Wars were also featured on Taylor Swift’s “Safe & Sound,” which she recorded for the soundtrack to the 2012 film The Hunger Games. That song has been certified 2× Platinum by the RIAA, and won the Grammy for Best Song Written for Visual Media.
While considered to be more folk rock in style, the Civil Wars often crossed over to country and were recognized at country awards ceremonies. They earned nominations from the CMA and CMT Music Awards.
The Civil Wars announced an indefinite hiatus in November 2012, shortly before they released their 2013 self-titled album. They officially split up in 2014, and released their version of “You Are My Sunshine” as their way of saying goodbye.
Sisters Brandon Jane and Leah Crutchfield formed the duo Coldwater Jane in 2010. The sisters released only one album, Marionette, in August 2011.
The album’s first and only single, “Bring on the Love,” reached the 47th spot on the Hot Country Songs chart. The song and Marionette received a lot of praise from reviewers, and fans were anxious to hear more.
But Coldwater Jane never released anything beyond that. They maintained an Instagram page for several years, but stopped posting to it in 2020.
Brandon and Leah remain active on their individual social media profiles. Brandon owns an interior design studio, and Leah is a real estate agent. They both have kids and still reside in Nashville.
Royce Kendall and his daughter Jeannie Kendall formed their country music duo The Kendalls in 1969. They released 16 albums over the course of the next three decades. Those albums produced 22 Top 40 hits, including three chart-toppers.
Those chart-toppers were “Heaven’s Just a Sin Away,” “Sweet Desire,” and “Thank God for the Radio.” The Kendalls won the 1978 Grammy Award for Best Country Vocal by a Duo or Group for “Heaven’s Just a Sin Away,” which was their breakthrough hit.
Sadly, Royce died on May 22, 1998 after suffering a stroke while on tour in Marquette, Iowa.
But unlike the other duos in this list, The Kendalls are still active…in some form at least. Jeannie still tours under The Kendalls name with Carl Acuff Jr.
The modern-day Kendalls also perform regularly in Branson, Missouri. They released a new CD, You Got Me, in 2022.
Ira and Charlie Louvin formed their duo The Louvin Brothers in 1940. They started off singing gospel music before they tested the waters with country and bluegrass songs.
Some of their greatest hits were “I Don’t Believe You’ve Met My Baby,” “Cash on the Barrelhead,” and “Hoping that You’re Hoping.” They were one of the top country acts of the 1950s and 1960s, and were regulars at the Grand Ole Opry.
But Ira struggled with addiction, and could have a hot temper. Charlie eventually had enough, and left The Louvin Brothers to pursue a solo career in 1963.
Ira was killed in a car accident just two years later, at the age of 41. Charlie lived until January 26, 2011, when he died at the age of 83. He lived long enough to see The Louvin Brothers’ induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001.
Brothers Jimmy and Donald “Butch” Myers formed the duo Seminole in 1997. They started off performing at the Cypress Lounge in Bunnell, Florida before moving on to Nashville.
They released their debut single, “She Knows Me by Heart,” in August 1997. It was a pleasant success, as it reached the 69th spot on the Hot Country Songs chart.
Seminole followed up with the release of two more singles, “Hillbilly Town” and “What Am I Gonna Do (With All This Love).”
The duo never ended up releasing an album. 1998’s “What Am I Gonna Do” was the last song they released before they stopped making music together.
Meghan Linsey and her then-fiancé Joshua Scott Jones formed the country duo Steel Magnolia. They competed on the second season of the CMT reality show Can You Duet, and won.
Their debut single, “Keep On Lovin’ You,” was released shortly after their big win in 2009. It reached the fourth spot on the Hot Country Songs chart and crossed over to claim the 68th spot on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100.
Steel Magnolia followed up with the Top 50 singles “Just By Being You (Halo and Wings),”Last Night Again,” and “Bulletproof.” Their debut, self-titled album was released in 2011, and reached the third spot on the Top Country Albums chart.
On September 29, 2011, Jones announced he had “entered a rehabilitation and treatment facility to address issues related to alcohol and substance abuse.” James Otto stepped up to perform alongside Linsey on tour as Steel Magnolia while Jones received treatment.
Linsey and Jones eventually ended their engagement. In March 2014, they shared a statement on their Facebook page announcing the end of Steel Magnolia.
Linsey later competed on Season 8 of The Voice and came in second place as a member of Team Blake. Both she and Jones maintain active solo careers.
Carl Roberts Butler and his wife, Pearl Dee Jones, formed the country duo Carl Butler and Pearl. They released their first song together, “Don’t Let Me Cross Over,” in 1962.
The song was a smash success. It remained at the #1 spot on the Hot Country Songs chart for nearly three months. They were also invited to join the Grand Ole Opry, which added to their success.
Carl Butler and Pearl were one of the most popular country duos throughout the 1960s-1980s. They scored a number of other hits, including “Too Late to Try Again,” “Loving Arms,” and “Punish Me Tomorrow.”
The couple mostly retired by the early 1980s, though they still performed at the Opry from time to time. Pearl passed away at the age of 60 on March 1, 1988 and Carl died just a few years later, on September 4, 1992, at the age of 65.
Brothers Johnny and Donnie Van Zant come from a rock and roll background. Their big brother, Ronnie Van Zant, was the original lead singer and founding member of Lynyrd Skynyrd.
A plane carrying the members of Skynyrd crashed on October 20, 1977, killing Ronnie, guitarist Steve Gaines, and background vocalist Cassie Gaines. Skynyrd went on hiatus for ten years after that, before reuniting with Johnny at the helm as lead vocalist. The band has remained active ever since.
Donnie went on to form another popular Southern rock group, 38 Special.
Because the worlds of country and Southern rock are so closely connected, it was easy for Johnny and Donnie to make the jump to country music through their duo, Van Zant. The duo originally formed in the 80s as a Southern rock band, then took a break for some time.
Van Zant came back as a country duo in 2005, and released two records, Get Right with the Man and My Kind of Country. The former album contained the Top 10 hit “Help Somebody” and the Top 20 hit “Nobody Gonna Tell Me What to Do.”
Donnie sadly had to retire from performing in 2013 due to his health. But Van Zant did release a live album, Red White & Blue, in 2016.
Jamie O’Hara and Kieran Kane started off writing songs together. O’Hara previously penned “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Old Days,” which The Judds recorded. Together, O’Hara and Kane wrote “Bluegrass Blues,” which The Judds also recorded.
After that, the pair formed their own duo, The O’Kanes. They released their first album in 1986. It produced the #1 hit “Can’t Stop My Heart from Loving You.” The album also contained the Top 10 hits “Oh Darlin’ (Why Don’t You Care for Me No More),” “Daddies Need to Grow Up Too,” and “Just Lovin’ You.”
More hits followed off of subsequent albums, including “One True Love,” “Blue Love,” and “Rocky Road.”
The duo released their last album, Imagine That, in 1990, and disbanded not long after. Both O’Hara and Kane pursued solo careers in the years that followed.
O’Hara passed away at the age of 70 on January 7, 2021 following a battle with cancer.
Loretta Lynn’s twin daughters Peggy and Patsy Lynn followed in her musical footsteps and formed their own duo, The Lynns, in 1997. Their self-titled, debut album contained two hit singles, “Nights Like These” and “Woman to Woman.”
The Lynns received two nominations for the CMA’s Vocal Duo of the Year Award. They were also nominated for the ACM Award for Top New Vocal Group or Duo in 1998.
The Lynns disbanded in 1999, just two years after they started. Patsy went on to work with her mother Loretta as her frequent producer and songwriting partner. Peggy now takes care of her own farm. Both she and Patsy have their own families.
We hope y’all enjoyed revisiting the songs and stories from these former country duos. Who do you have the fondest memories of listening to?