Taste of Country continues to roll out its 2018 RISERS program, and there are still several up-and-coming artists that have the potential to claim the spotlight in country music. 2018 may be the year we see a wider variety of artists break through.
So, who's rising this month? These five country acts to watch contribute a unique sound to an ever-changing genre.
UMG's Kassi Ashton is poised to become one of these breakthrough stars. She scored a guest slot on Keith Urban's Graffiti U album as a featured vocalist on a track titled "Drop Top" that's bound to put her on the map, not to mention her original songs, which exude strength and confidence. Country fans may already be familiar with Delta Rae and their stellar harmonies, along with CJ Solar, who has been making his way around Nashville and has a major cut on the radio with Morgan Wallen. The noteworthy duo of Haley & Michaels also make the list, as does newcomer Lainey Wilson, who has the songwriting skills to back up her voice.
Here are five acts not to miss this spring — be sure to listen!
Ashton may be a newcomer, but she’s a force to be reckoned with. Her voice is packed with soul, power and all of the other facets that make for a striking vocalist, and paired with her songwriting gift, her talent is undeniable. You hear her ability to turn her sorrow into powerful art on “The Straw,” yet can’t help but be enamored by her confidence on the sassy “Taxidermy.” But she best demonstrates her fearless spirit on her strong debut single “California, Missouri,” which goes against the tide of standard country songs. Hello, her voice is so noteworthy that it caught Keith Urban's attention! Ashton is a gamechanger.
Hit play on any one of CJ Solar’s songs and you've met the merging of soul and Southern rock. His 2018 EP, Get Away With It, shows his sharp songwriting skills and polished sound. In addition to his own quality compositions — like the EP’s title track and lead single “Airplane” — fans can hear his songwriting talent on country radio already in the form of Morgan Wallen’s debut hit with Florida Georgia Line, “Up Down,” which he co-wrote. He's also had cuts by Jerrod Niemann and Justin Moore! Though his name has been buzzing around Nashville for some time, 2018 is Solar’s breakthrough year as an artist.
Since making their official debut in 2017, Delta Rae have left an impression on the genre. They have a heavy folk influence and powerful lyrics. The six-member band is made up of siblings Brittany, Ian and Eric Holljes and longtime friends Elizabeth Hopkins, Grant Emerson and Mike McKee, who put out raw harmonies so poignant they’ll haunt you. This group offers the rare ability to master a range of emotions across their diverse songs, using their vibrant spirits to infuse a positive message into the hopeful “A Long and Happy Life” before gripping your heart with the despondent “No Peace in Quiet." Keep your ears open for Delta Rae's stunning harmonies in 2018.
Haley & Michaels are an example of an act who have exhibited true perseverance while trying to make a name for themselves in music. The husband and wife team of Shannon Haley and Ryan Michaels impressed the industry and fans alike with their debut single “Giving It All (To You),” which blends their sweet voices and saw more than 10 million streams on Spotify. Though still establishing themselves in the genre, the duo truly proved their place by contributing their voices to the powerful #MeToo movement with the empowering song “Me Too,” shining a spotlight on #MeToo founder Tarana Burke and several other sexual assault survivors. Their pure voices and awareness of the world make Haley & Michaels an important act to keep an eye on this year.
When Lainey Wilson describes herself as a “do it my way kind of girl” in her fiery new single “Workin’ Overtime," she's telling the truth. As a member of the all-female singer-songwriter troupe Song Suffragettes, Wilson draws you in with her haunting tone and convincing lyrics. “Workin’ Overtime” reflects this, as does the beautiful “Dreamcatcher” and honest, raw “Tougher.” Wilson's voice is reminiscent of Lee Ann Womack and filled with pop-country appeal — a combination that proves her power as a vocalist and potential to be a rising star in 2018.
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