One of our most popular posts from last year was our 20 to Watch in 2014, predicting new and upcoming artist/bands, as well as talent on the horizon in the Country Music industry. (Was actually 21 cause apparently I don’t know how to count – lol.) And, not to brag, but I think our collective opinions from CMchatLIVE.com and the #CMchat Community absolutely nailed our 2014 list some of the names included: The Cadillac Three, Brandy Clark, Ronnie Dunn, Sam Hunt, Meghan Linsey, Jon Pardi, Eric Paslay, Chase Rice, Dee Jay Silver (to name a few).
Like our Best of 2014 Country Music Albums, I reached out to nearly 100 various community members, friends, family, CMchatLIVE.com contributors, Country Music Tastemakers, Publicists, Artist Relations professionals, Country Music Radio friends and other Music journalists to get a diversified list. Let us know who you are looking out for in 2015 to make big waves in Country Music! You can also check our weekly “One to Watch” feature on Wednesdays, and if there is someone you think we should feature let us know!
In alphabetical order here are the Country Music #CMchat 15 to Watch in 2015:
Hailing from Knoxville, TN, singer/songwriter Kelsea Ballerini moved to Nashville, TN at age 15 to chase the dream of becoming a songwriter. At age 19, Ballerini signed a publishing deal with Black River Publishing (2013). Later that year, Ballerini signed a record deal with Black River Entertainment and had the most added debut song in 2014 by a female “Love Me Like You Mean It” from her debut self-titled EP. Ballerini secured her spot on radars everywhere, acting as an American Country Countdown Awards correspondent for Radio Disney and earning a coveted spot on the CMT Next Women of Country list. Check out the wrap-up from our Country Music #CMchat Twitterview with Kelsea.
Dynamic and charismatic, Craig Wayne Boyd’s sound is rooted in the southern tradition of country music and is topped with a rebellious flair. Growing up in the Dallas, Texas suburb of Mesquite, Boyd was born under the influence of gospel and country music. Boyd catapulted to fame as a member of Team Blake on NBC’s The Voice, resulting as the Season 7 winner of the highly acclaimed show. In his very young career, Boyd already broke a record, becoming the only artist to debut at Number 1 on the Hot Country Songs chart, other than Garth Brooks in 2007. Boyd’s first album will be released later this year under his label Dot Records/Big Machine Label Group.
For a decade, Kristian Bush built his reputation as one half of the multi-platinum, Grammy-winning country duo Sugarland. Now a solo artist making his way in the world of country music as a verifiable one-man band, songwriter, and vocalist, Bush is setting the stage for a stellar 2015. His current single, “Trailer Hitch,” shows off his comedic and thought-provoking sides, and is shaping up to be one of the most added songs to kick off the year. Check out the wrap-up from our Country Music #CMchat Twitterview with Kristian Bush.
Brooke Eden was born to hardworking blue collar parents in Loxahatchee, FL. Her father was a carpenter and drummer in a country band. She started singing in his group at the age of 5 and has been rocking to the rhythm of country music and wowing audiences with her powerhouse vocals ever since. With her first single “American Dreamin'” (co-written by Eden, Will Rambeaux, and Sherrie Austin) grabbing the attention of labels, Eden was signed to Broken Bow Records at the end of 2014 and is high on the label’s lists of priorities for 2015 … and with good reason. Check out the wrap-up from our Country Music #CMchat Twitterview with Brooke Eden.
Coming from a family with deep musical roots, Stoney Creek Records’ artist Lindsay Ell started playing piano and guitar at a very early age. “I learned how to play guitar traveling to country-bluegrass camps with my dad, and knew right from the beginning of my strong passion for country music.” Ell caught the attention of many of today’s most renowned artists and was selected to open for acts such as The Band Perry, Keith Urban, Buddy Guy, Big & Rich, Gretchen Wilson, Ronnie Dunn, Paul Brandt, and Chris Isaak. With a career that is just about to take off, CMT named Ell to their Next Women of Country list.
Born in Arlington, Texas, Mickey Guyton moved around the Lone Star state as her father’s engineering job took them to Waco, Tyler, Dallas and Fort Worth. Music was a constant in her nomadic life. She began singing gospel in church when she was only five and grew up listening to a variety of artists, including Dolly Parton, LeAnn Rimes, Whitney Houston and gospel innovators BeBe and CeCe Winans. Guyton ultimately moved to California where she was discovered by those who connected her to Nashville. Fast forward a couple of years and Guyton signed with Capitol Records Nashville, became a BMI songwriter, and has one of the most anticipated singles in early 2015, “Better Than You Left Me.”
It is that drive, paired with raw talent and business savvy, that took John King out of a little mountain town in Georgia’s Habersham County and into the spotlight opening for award-winning artists, playing over 150 dates per year, prior to having a booking agent. Now, with the backing of record label Black River Entertainment, King is further on his way, as made evident by his debut single “Tonight Tonight.” Check out our Country Music #CMchat exclusive interview with John King.
Chris Lane hails from Kernersville, North Carolina where he began to play live shows after his college baseball career ended. Over the last few years, Lane has played over 500 shows, opening up for Florida Georgia Line, The Band Perry, Eli Young Band, Chris Young and Brantley Gilbert among others. His debut hit “Broken Windshield View” was released under record label Big Loud Mountain out of Nashville and continues to receive notable radio play across the country. Check out our Country Music #CMchat exclusive interview with Chris Lane.
Maddie Marlow and Taylor Dye (Maddie & Tae) never intended to hit a nerve when they sat down on St. Patricks Day and wrote “Girl in a Country Song.” Merely expressing their own reaction to the reductive tilt of today’s BroCountry, the pair and co-writer Aaron Schwerz shamelessly skewered its Xeroxed stereotypes; “Girl” was as much a lark as it was ever “meaningful social commentary.” Much to their surprise, the girls’ accidental hit songwriting helped them surge to success, becoming Dot Records’ first signees, CMT Next Women of Country, and 2015 CRS New Faces. Check out the wrap-up from our Country Music #CMchat Twitterview with Maddie & Tae.
Pegging Show Dog-Universal Music country duo Native Run is tougher than it might seem. “Very instrument-driven with acoustic guitar, banjo and mandolin,” suggests the pair’s Rachel Beauregard. “Country themes and very sing-able choruses.” Bryan Dawley, her partner in music, appends, “We value songs that take common experiences and translate them in new and interesting ways. Things like love, heartache and life, but with our fingerprint on them.” The Showdog Universal signed duo is fresh off the road with David Nail and is immediately turning back around and heading out with the exploding Sam Hunt. Check out our Country Music #CMchat exclusive interview with Native Run.
Old Dominion may not yet be a household name, but its members are behind many of the songs you hear in country music today. During the past 10 years of writing and honing their sound as a band, a number of their songs have been recorded and released by an impressive list that includes The Band Perry, Keith Urban, Luke Bryan, Dierks Bentley, Chris Young, and Craig Morgan. And while it has been nice to experience radio success as song writers, the band has their scope unwaveringly aimed at delivering their music personally to the people.
RaeLynn came to the public’s attention when she finished third on the second season of the television show The Voice in 2012. Born into a musical family (her brother Jake is a member of the Grammy-nominated band Leeland), RaeLynn first sang at church, but she discovered country music when she was 11 years old. She auditioned for The Voice for the second season, ending up on Blake Shelton’s team, and eventually finished third in the overall results. The exposure did her well, and she signed a publishing deal with Dr. Luke’s Prescription Songs and a recording deal with Republic Nashville. A single, “Boyfriend,” was released that same year, and it climbed as high as number 32 on the Billboard Country Chart in 2012. Another single, “God Made Girls,” was released at the start of summer in 2014, while RaeLynn was working on a full-length debut album. RaeLynn was recently named to the CMT Next Women of Country list and will be joining Miranda Lambert on her Platinum Tour for select dates in 2015.
Warner Music Nashville Artist Michael Ray, a country singer-songwriter from Eustis, Florida appeared on and won CW Network’s reality competition show The Next. On the show he was mentored by John Rich (of Big & Rich) and has maintained a mentor/mentee relationship with Rich since the end of the show. Ray released his EP Tour Bootleg recently, which helped him solidify his spots on Chase Rice’s Ignite the Night Tour and Sam Hunt’s upcoming Lipstick Graffiti Tour. There is also a bit of buzz surrounding the possibility that Ray will be launching his own record label early this year.
There’s nothing like life on the road to transform a promising young talent into a superstar in the making. Case in point: Canaan Smith. Since bursting on the scene with the compelling single “We Got Us,” the young singer/songwriter has been touring with Darius Rucker, Dierks Bentley and Florida Georgia Line, and now his latest single, “Love You Like That” is fast becoming a sizzling summer hit. A Mercury Records/Universal Music Group recording artist, Smith shows no signs of slowing down in 2015 when he will be on the road in with Kip Moore and Dan + Shay. Check out the wrap-up from our Country Music #CMchat Twitterview with Canaan Smith.
There really must be something in the water in Oklahoma. The state has produced more country greats per capita than probably anywhere else on earth – Reba, Blake, Vince, Garth, and Toby all hail from the same state where The Swon Brothers spent their formative years. In fact, Muskogee, OK, natives Zach and Colton Swon grew up right down the street from American Idol champ-turned-country-superstar Carrie Underwood, and the three shared a stage many times throughout their childhood years. After placing third on Season 4 of The Voice, the brothers Swon went on to sign a deal with Arista Nashville, ultimately releasing their critically acclaimed self-titled debut LP. Their current single “Pray For You” is a a sweet-natured tune that adequately fits the siblings’ endearing and lovable personalities.
Notables who also showed up on a few lists from the people I surveyed: A Thousand Horses, Brothers Osborne, Chase Bryant, Clare Dunn, Haley & Michaels, Olivia Lane, Sonia Leigh, Mo Pitney, Adam Sanders, Mary Sarah and Two Story Road.
Thanks a bazillion to Jen Swirsky for helping organize this monster post! It truly takes an army.
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