Photo: BBR Records / Alex Berger
Newcomer Lainey Wilson is proving she is not afraid to speak her truth in country music, and she has some stories to tell. With her debut album Sayin’ What I’m Thinkin’, the Louisiana native brings us right back to ‘90s country with her signature “Bell Bottom” sound. Her vulnerable lyrics and southern twang will pull you in right from the first track “Neon Diamonds”.
Wilson even channels our country queen Dolly Parton on the sassy “WWDD”, where she simply asks herself: “What would Dolly do?” (A question we should all ask ourselves). We can’t forget her new single and fan-favourite “Things A Man Oughta Know”, where she proves she doesn’t need a man to shoot a shotgun, catch a fish, and change a tire for her.
photo: Universal Music Group
2020 was a huge year for Priscilla Block, whose TikTok fame led her to signing a record deal with Universal Music Group.
Like many of us, the singer decided to get on the app at the beginning of quarantine and quickly started to grow a fanbase with “Thick Highs”, an unapologetic anthem about women embracing their bodies (a topic not often covered in country music). But it wasn’t until fans rallied behind her heartbreak anthem “Just About Over You”, which really put her on the map. Within 12 hours of independently releasing it, the track shot to the top of the iTunes all-genre chart, passing Dan + Shay and Billie Eilish. It was also named one of The New York Times' Best Songs of 2020.
photo: Pigasus Records / Big Loud Records / Songs & Daughters.
Hailey Whitters is "living the dream" as one of country music’s most promising new female artists. In 2020, the release of her debut album The Dream put her on the map but by the end of last year, she saw herself landing on several “best of” lists, including earning the No. 6 spot on Rolling Stone’s “30 Best Country & Americana Albums of 2020”.
Now comes the release of the deluxe version, aptly titled Living the Dream, which is a tribute to everyone who helped her make music a full-time gig. Teaming up with her close friends Jordan Davis, Hillary Lindsey, Little Big Town, Trisha Yearwood and more, the new release gives listeners a fresh take on some of her hits.
Speaking with ET Canada about the project, Whitters credits Little Big Town for her success. After the group recorded her song “Happy People” she used those royalties to be able to go on and make her record.
We definitely can’t ignore her similarities to a young Dolly Parton and we can’t wait to see what’s to come.
photo: Getty Images
Mickey Guyton is definitely one to watch in the genre. Speaking her truth as a woman of colour in a traditionally white genre, she released the powerful “Black Like Me” in the midst of the Black Lives Matter protests. Guyton encouraged country fans - and the industry - to see the world through her eyes when she sings: “If you think we live in the land of the free / You should try to be black like me.”
But Guyton’s rise to fame didn’t exactly happen overnight. After signing a record deal in Nashville nearly a decade ago, she was ignored by country radio and as a Black woman, she fell into a demographic underrepresented in the genre. Guyton finally began to gain attention with “Black Like Me” and continues to break barriers by calling out the industry for its lack of diversity while leading a new generation of changemakers. Guyton also addresses systemic sexism in “What Are You Gonna Tell Her?”
In 2021, at 36-years-old, country music is finally accepting and ready for a powerhouse like Mickey Guyton.
She recently earned her first-ever Grammy nomination for “Black Like Me”, making her the first Black female solo artist to earn a nod in a country music category. The Texas-native is no stranger to making history. At last year’s ACM Awards, she became the first Black female artist to perform her song at the show. This year, Guyton is up for New Female Artist of the Year, making this the first time four Black artists have been nominated by the Academy of Country Music in the same year. Jimmie Allen, Kane Brown, and John Legend are also among the group of Black nominees.
photo: Getty Images
Gabby Barrett has quickly become a force to reckon with since placing third on “American Idol” back in 2018. After her time on the show, her fiery debut single “I Hope” landed her a record deal with Warner Music and her success only went up from there.
At just 21-years-old, Barrett continues to break record after record, as she became the first-ever female country artist to top 10 million single week streams with the 3x platinum “I Hope”. In addition, her debut album Goldmine claimed the most first-week debut album streams for any country act in history. Barrett’s also up for New Female Artist of the Year at the 2021 ACM Awards and we’re sure she’ll break even more records in 2021.
If you’re a fan of Carrie Underwood and her powerhouse vocals, you’re definitely going to want to have this rising star on your radar.
On a more personal side, the singer welcomed her baby girl Baylah May with husband, and fellow “American Idol” alum, Cade Foehner at the beginning of 2021.
Nominated for New Female Artist of the Year at the upcoming ACM Awards, Caylee Hammack is making her mark in country music after the release of her major label debut If It Wasn’t For You. Having co-wrote and co-produced every song on the 13-track project, the Georgia-native proves she can do it all. Hammock made her debut in the country music community with the nostalgic “Family Tree” in 2019, which became the most-added single at Country radio by a female artist in over three years.
If you’re a fan of Reba, you’re definitely going to want to check out the pair’s aptly titled feisty duet “Redhead”.
photo: getty images
Ingrid Andress is one we can’t ignore. Growing up in Denver, Colo., she started her career with an appearance on NBC’s “The Sing-Off" before going on to pursue a degree in music composition from the Berklee College of Music. She later moved to Nashville where, like many newcomers, started off as a songwriter and collaborator before making the transition to a solo performer.
With the release of her powerful debut single “More Hearts Than Mine” in 2019, Andress became the only solo female artist in 2019 to reach the Top 20 on the Billboard Country Airplay Chart. The genre-transcending ballad showcases her ability to cover some of the toughest subjects as she sings about the fear of beginning a relationship with someone and knowing that if it doesn’t work out, your family may be just as hurt and affected by the breakup.
In addition, Andress co-wrote and co-produced her debut album Lady Like, available now. She is also up for New Female Artist of the Year at the 2021 ACM Awards.
photo: David McClister
Morgan Wade brings a refreshing, raw take to country music. From her scratchy vocals to brutally honest and vulnerable lyrics, the “Don’t Cry” singer should definitely be on your radar.
With influences ranging from Miley Cyrus to Halsey, Wade brings freedom to the country music genre, which many artists are afraid to do. Her upcoming 10-track debut album further showcases her ability to tell widely relatable stories while providing comfort to the listener.
Reckless arrives March 19.
photo: Getty Images
There’s lots to celebrate for Canada’s own Tenille Arts, who was just recognized by the Academy of Country Music as one of this year’s New Female Artist of the Year nominees. The 26-year-old’s career really took off after her frequent performances on “The Bachelor”, which eventually turned into a record deal in Nashville.
Arts’ sophomore album Love, Heartbreak, & Everything in Between is available now and includes her smash hit “Somebody Like That”. You’ll be hooked as soon as you hear her sweet voice filled with raw emotion as she sings about looking for that kind of love that lasts a lifetime.
photo: getty images
Ashland Craft first caught our attention on season 13 of “The Voice”, where she turned three chairs with a flawless cover of “You Are My Sunshine”. While her time on the show was short lived, she didn’t let that stop her from pursuing her dreams and moved to Nashville where she later signed a record deal with Big Loud Records in 2020. More recently, Craft’s edgy vocals shine through on HARDY’s “So Close”, featured on his debut album A Rock.