Karen Fairchild of Little Big Town made a big statement at the 2018 CMT Artists of the Year event when she name-checked 35 up-and-coming female artists who deserve an opportunity on country radio. Taste of Country has selected a handful of these acts as ones to watch this month.
These five artists all offer something fresh and important. While all women, they're unique and diverse; Natalie Stovall brings energy to her songs, while Kelleigh Bannen tells an intricate, emotional story with her latest, "Happy Birthday." You'll find a student of Jack White on this list, along with an artist who adapted her songs into a short film. Each of these artists create the kind of music you want to spend your time with, soaking in the lyrics to see the world in new ways.
Here are five rising country acts to watch in November 2018.
Songwriter Nicolle Galyon said it best when she described "Happy Birthday" as a grown woman’s story. Bannen put her relentless work ethic to use during a decade in Nashville spent writing and recording songs, but she should finally break through with "Happy Birthday." It's a raw, vulnerable track that details the pain of missing someone on their special day. Her gift for crafting powerful stories is also demonstrated on "Church Clothes" and 2018 EP The Joneses, on which she her attitude is unwavering while capturing the feeling of being burned by an ex-lover on "John Who," to giving the middle finger to others' opinions with the title track. Bannen is an artist who is always equipped with a determined story to tell.
Stovall was placed on a national platform when she appeared on Season 13 of The Voice in 2017, but she was pounding the pavement in Nashville long before that. She's spent years as the lead singer of the band Natalie Stovall and the Drive, but her voice remains one of Nashville's best kept secrets. She uniquely blends grit and strength with serenity on songs like "Can’t Love You No More" and "Wine or Whiskey," which are made for country radio. In addition to her vocal ability, her talent on the fiddle is nothing short of exquisite and adds a striking dynamic to her artistry — one so undeniable that fiddle master Charlie Daniels has invited her to perform with him. Stovall is not to be ignored.
The most refreshing aspect of Hackett’s 2018 EP By the Sun? No two songs sound the same. While she planted her stake as a songwriter with the moving "Take My hand" in 2014, she advances with her latest project. She just as brilliantly combines her view of the world with her time working in the restaurant industry on "Waitress" as she does offering valuable words of wisdom to young women on the endearing "Josie." Hackett has a gift for turning sharp, intelligent thoughts into compelling lyrics — something country music would forever benefit from.
When Jack White throws his support behind an artist, you know there's something truly exceptional about them. This is true of bluegrass goddess Lillie Mae. Her latest album Forever and Then Some paints an intricate tapestry of a multi-layered artist who’s not afraid to admit her wrongdoings on songs like "Wash Me Clean." Her talent has landed her esteemed gigs like The Late Show With Stephen Colbert and Conan, with a voice that is not only intriguing, but inspiring.
Collins proved she knows how to transform real life into art when she took her debut album Get Drunk and Cry to the next level by co-writing and starring in her own short film based on the album's lyrics. She carries this gift for storytelling into her voice, blending an angelic tone and universal emotion, whether feeling the pain of watching an ex moving on in "Get Drunk and Cry" or conveying the purity of a love from a parent on "Mockingbird." Expect to be taken by her whimsical nature as she continues to make perfectly poignant music.
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