Chris Janson Inspires, Brothers Osborne Impress at CRS New Faces Showcase
Chris Janson closed out Country Radio Seminar 2016 at the New Faces showcase Wednesday night (Feb. 10) at the Omni Hotel's Broadway Ballroom in Nashville with one of those most inspiring country radio success stories. As the last act of the evening — which included performances by Cam, Brothers Osborne, Kelsea Ballerini and Old Dominion — Janson began his set with a video broadcast on the ballroom's two giant television screens that told the story of his journey to Nashville.
Janson moved from Missouri to Nashville 10 years ago with the dream of being a star. He had two goals in mind: be on country radio and play the Opry, but he soon found himself sleeping in his car and living off a tip jar. He eventually got a gig playing four shows a day at Tootsie's on Broadway seven days a week, just steps away from his dream of playing the Opry at Ryman Auditorium.
"It truly is only 10 steps to the Ryman but it took 10 years to get there," he remarked in the video. "I'm grateful for 'Buy Me a Boat' and what it did for my family. Country music radio has done everything for me and my family."
That gratitude and excitement to be in the spotlight was evident from the moment Janson ran out on stage — literally, he ran — with his harmonica in hand at CRS New Faces. After a memorable harmonica introduction, he launched into "Back in My Drinkin' Days," which segued into the autobiographical "White Trash" about his time growing up in Missouri in a double-wide trailer. Then came his upbeat new single "Power of Positive Drinkin'" and the heartfelt "Holdin' Her." Janson had the crowd singing along for set closer, and his first No. 1 single, "Buy Me a Boat."
"I am so grateful to everybody. Thank you for giving me a shot and for giving me a job," he said. "Thank you so much for giving me a career, country radio. Thank you for making my dreams come true."
Each artist throughout the evening shared their gratitude for being showcased at the New Faces show. After Old Dominion powered through an energetic set of new single "Snapback," tongue-in-cheek "Said Nobody," nostalgic "Nowhere Fast" and the heartfelt "Song for Another Time," frontman Matthew Ramsey confessed that it was unexpected that their band was finally working and commented on how many friends they've made through country radio.
"I wish I could tell you how amazing this year has been. This is the one that kicked the doors in. We want to hear your best, 'Hey girl,'" he said before the band launched into their first No. 1 hit as a band with "Break Up With Him."
Ballerini also shared a heartfelt video before her four-song performance. A photo collage showed her at meet and greets with some of her favorite country artists, including Lady Antebellum, Taylor Swift and Rascal Flatts, long before she would come to share the stage with each.
Her performance included new single "Dibs," "XO" — during which she took a break from singing to pound on the drums behind her — the poignant "Peter Pan" and the single that she says changed her life, "Love Me Like You Mean It." As she closed her set she thanked country radio for "the most incredible year. I can't even believe it."
Brothers Osborne shared similar sentiments, admitting that last night's showcase was one of the most nerve-wracking shows they've ever been a part of. The duo kicked off their guitar slinging set with the bass-heavy "It Ain't My Fault" where T.J.'s deep baritone complimented John's guitar riffs. The soaring "21 Summer" showcased a more sensitive side of the band, while T.J. said "Loving Me Back" — a song off their debut album Pawn Shop which features Lee Ann Womack — made the record because they wanted "something really country" on the album.
They closed out their New Faces performance with their recent No. 1 single "Stay a Little Longer," which included a much welcomed extended guitar solo from John, but not before thanking radio for their support. "Radio was this huge, scary beast for so long, and you embraced us, so thank you," T.J. said.
Cam began the New Faces showcase with the first performance of the night. After a video introduction which showed her sleeping in a burning house, sleepwalking and being awoken by Brad Paisley — both alluding to her hit "Burning House" — she began her set with the banjo-driven "Untamed" before what she called the "angry" and rollicking "Runaway Train." She prefaced new single "Mayday" by dedicating it to "anybody whoever got stuck in a relationship" before closing with the memorable "Burning House," urging the audience to sing along with their "arms around each other like you love one another."
"I'm so proud to be a part of this lineup," she said as she closed her set.
Every artist who took the New Faces stage will head to Las Vegas in April where they are all nominated in at least one category at the ACM Awards.