When people think of country music, they might picture a boots and cowboy hat-wearing singer gracing the stage somewhere down south. But it would be wrong to exclude other country artists who come from other states, including Colorado. The rugged beauty of Colorado’s vast landscapes has inspired several artists in the country music universe. The following country singers were either born or spent a large part of their lives in Colorado.
John Denver’s 1972 hit “Rocky Mountain High” became one of Colorado’s two official state songs in 2007.
Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr., better known by his stage name John Denver, is probably the most famous country musician associated with the state of Colorado. Denver was born in Roswell, New Mexico, to Air Force pilot Captain Henry John Deutschendorf, Sr. He began playing guitar at the age of 11, when his grandmother bought him an acoustic guitar. After the success of his 1972 album Rocky Mountain High and its title track, which hit the Top Ten in 1973, Denver purchased a residence in Aspen, where he lived continuously until his death. On October 12, 1997, Denver died after the plane he was piloting crashed due to a malfunction with its fuel tanks.
Beau David was one of the men of color to change the face of country music, and he was a founding member of the Colorado Country Music Hall of Fame.
Newrise Battle, known by his stage name Beau David, was born in 1937 in Cincinnati, Ohio. He began singing early in his life, and he took his talent with him when he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1955. When he was stationed in Germany, his rendition of the song “16 Tons” won him the Air Force Tops in Blues Award. He formed his first band, The Intrigues, while he was stationed in Ellsworth AFB in South Dakota. He played with the band for four years until his retirement from the Air Force after serving 20 years in 1975. He moved to Colorado that same year, performing solo six nights a week while he studied at the University of Northern Colorado.
He later formed a new band, “The Day Drinkers,” that played in the Denver area, where the locals referred to him as Beau David. His work was influenced by folk, flamenco, country, and blues music, but his favorite was country music. In 2005, David was inducted into the Colorado Country Music Hall of Fame. Sadly, he passed away five years later at the age of 73. He is remembered for his legacy of being one of the men of color to change the face of country music, as well as his role as a founding member of the Colorado Country Music Hall of Fame.
Lannie Garrett is a singer/entertainer whose talents encompass singing, acting, and comedy.
Garrett is a high-profile entertainer, having worked with big names like B.B. King, Bill Cosby, and Jay Leno. She’s no stranger to Colorado, as she has performed with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra at Denver’s Boettcher Concert Hall and Red Rocks Amphitheater. Lannie’s connection to country music comes from her famous Patsy DeCline show, a performance that spoofs country music. On the show’s wide appeal, Annie explains: “If you really like country music, the band is a really good country band. And if you really don’t like country music, the show is funny enough and goofy enough that it doesn’t matter that it’s country.” Garrett won the title of Denver Post’s Favorite Female Vocalist several years running, and both the readers of 5280 Magazine and OutFront voted Garrett their favorite singer. She was inducted into the Colorado Country Hall of Fame in 2010.
“His love of country music is rooted in the broad range of places he has performed and all of the wonderful people he has met.” — Colorado Country Music Hall of Fame
Audy Baldridge was born in Okmulgee, Oklahoma. He entered the U.S. Navy at age 20 and later graduated from the Oklahoma State University of Technical Training in 1960. He has a wife, Joan, four children, and several grandchildren. Baldridge later moved to Colorado and is now a 34-year resident of the state. Baldridge, who has played country music his entire life, is a founding member of The Red River Band and has enjoyed playing in the group for over 17 years; even to this day, Baldridge continues to play with the group, not intending to slow down anytime soon. He was inducted into the Colorado Country Music Hall of Fame in 2008.