During the 2018 CMT Artists of the Year, Karen Fairchild of Little Big Town made an impactful statement 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 to watch this month, as each woman provides a unique and compelling voice worthy of the spotlight.
These five artists all offer something important, demonstrating bravery in sharing their stories. There's a sense of diversity among them, as 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 from their point of views.
Here are five rising country acts to watch in November 2018.
Songwriter Nicolle Galyon was right when she said “Happy Birthday” is a grown woman’s story. Bannen put her relentless work ethic to use during her decade in Nashville writing and recording songs, but could very well find her breakthrough with “Happy Birthday,” defining raw vulnerability in the song 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, where she eloquently expresses her unwavering attitude, whether capturing the feeling of being burned by an ex-lover on “John Who” while simultaneously giving the middle finger to others’ opinions with the title track. Bannen is an artist who’s always equipped with a determined story to tell, ones that demand Nashville’s attention.
Stovall was placed on a national platform with her run on Season 13 of The Voice in 2017, but she’s been pounding the pavement in Nashville long before that. She's spent years as the lead singer of her band Natalie Stovall and the Drive, yet her voice is one of Nashville’s best kept secrets. She uniquely blends grit and strength with serenity, as demonstrated on songs like “Can’t Love You No More” and “Wine or Whiskey,” which are made for country radio. In addition to her admirable 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. Her commanding voice 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 even farther 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.” She has a gift for turning her sharp, intelligent perspective into equally compelling music, something country music will always benefit from.
When Jack White throws his support behind an artist, you know there’s something truly exceptional about them. This rings true for bluegrass goddess Lillie Mae. Her latest album Forever and Then Some paints an intricate tapestry of a multi-layered artist, one who’s not afraid to admit her wrongdoings on “Wash Me Clean” while owning her individuality on “Dance to the Beat of My Own Drum.” Her talent alone has landed her esteemed gigs on 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 her life into engaging 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, showcasing how much creativity she has to offer. She carries this gift for storytelling into her voice, blending her angelic tone with 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 poignant music.