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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

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  • Weird country crossover stars

    Country music is the most popular radio format in the United States. It also has the largest and most loyal fan base, making it a lucrative arena for any pop or rock star looking to expand their fan base, and their bank account.

    Plenty of popular musical artists have Southern or country-influenced pasts, but it takes guts and confidence — and some country cred — to make a move from a pop/rock genre into country and its legions of loyal fans. Our friends at Snakkle.com take a look at some of the most unexpected, yet highly successful, country cross-overs from pop and rock.

    See the entire gallery music stars who crossed over to country at Snakkle.com

    Lionel Richie and Shania Twain Cover “Endless Love”

    One of the most recent and most unexpected singers to get countrified is Lionel Richie. Turns out this pop crooner, who got his star with The Commodores, is a Tuskegee, Alabama, native, and brought his Southern roots to his daring 2012 country album “Tuskegee.”

    With friends in high places (and the right music places) like Kenny Chesney, Richie didn’t have to change his tune too much to find inspiration for his hit album. Richie’s melting-pot background of musical influences helped bring a new sound to country on “Tuskegee”, which includes duets with country crooners like Kenny Rogers, Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Willie Nelson, and Shania Twain …  just to name a few.

    Seen here, Richie and Twain sing the now-country duet “Endless Love,” a ballad written by Richie and originally recorded as a duet between himself and fellow soul singer Diana Ross.

    See the entire gallery music stars who crossed over to country at Snakkle.com.

    Aaron Lewis at the 2012 Jamboree in the Hills in Morristown, Ohio

    Another rocker turned country star is Aaron Lewis, lead singer of the group Staind, the rock band formed in 1995. Fifteen years later, in 2010, Lewis released his first country music EP, “Town Line,” a bold move for a new solo artist from the land of hard rock. Lewis has said that his grandfather first introduced him to country as a young boy but that touring with Kid Rock,who also crossed over to country, rekindled his interest.

    His hit single “Country Boy” features country legends George Jones and Charlie Daniels, as well as the popular country artist Chris Young. Lewis said in an interview that the move to country was aided by his acoustic guitar playing. Fans seem to agree, as this “country boy” was well received by the country world.

    Jason Merritt/Getty Images

    Toby Keith and Darius Rucker Perform Onstage at the 2012 CMT Music Awards in Nashville

    Hootie & the Blowfish do country? Maybe not the entire band, but Hootie lead singer Darius Rucker was in rock before he successfully went solo in R&B, and then in 2008 released his “Learn to Live” country album. The album has three No. 1 singles and made Rucker the first African American to top the Hot Country Songs charts since Charley Pride in 1983.

    In 2009, he won the New Artist Award from the Country Music Association and continued his streak of success with a second country album, titled “Charleston, SC 1966”. The album gave way to even more hit singles, and on December 4, 2011, it was confirmed that Rucker was working on a third country album and would tour with the country music trio Lady Antebellum in 2012.

    In this photo, country legend Willie Nelson leads an onstage super group to sing “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die” at the 2012 CMT awards.

    See the entire gallery music stars who crossed over to country at Snakkle.com.

    Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Stagecoach

    Martina McBride and Sheryl Crow

    Her record label rejected her very first album in 1992, and then Sheryl Crow spent much of the early nineties as a faceless songwriter for big stars like Celine Dion and Tina Turner. But after her worldwide success starting in 1994, maybe it was only a matter of time before Sheryl Crow dipped her toes into country music.

    After her battle with cancer, Crow recorded her sixth studio album “Detours” at her farm in Nashville. Her seventh album, “100 Miles from Memphis,” helped pave the way to her 2012 announcement that she would be recording a country album with Brad Paisley. To cement the announcement, Crow and Martina McBride sang a duet of Linda Ronstadt’s “You’re No Good” at the 2012 Stagecoach Festival, paying homage to the Southern singer who inspired both stars. Their performance proves that Crow might totally rock her country crossover this year! Stay tuned.

    See the rest of the gallery stars who crossed over to country at Snakkle.com.

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