While 2016 saw several new Country acts from last year’s Artists to Watch list break through the genre like Maren Morris, Tucker Beathard and Kane Brown, 2017 also shows much promise. Here are 14 acts to keep on your radar in 2017 (in alphabetical order).
Drew Baldridge released his debut album Dirt On Us in mid-2016 and gave country fans a taste of what’s to come with his upbeat single “Dance With Ya” and the seductive follow-up, “Rebound.” With dance moves that rival Luke Bryan and a voice as smooth as Tennessee whiskey, Baldridge is one artist to seek out in 2017.
Bailey Bryan is making waves with her debut single “Own It,” which urges us to not dwell on our imperfections and instead, live life to the fullest. Bryan is a name you’re bound to hear more often as Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott recently nominated her as an Artist of Tomorrow, a new CBS web series which shines a light on up-and-coming artists. Additionally, Bryan will have the chance to perform during GRAMMY Live leading up to the 59th Annual GRAMMY Awards.
This North Carolina native calls Eric Church an inspiration and it was hearing The Chief that restored his faith in country music and prompted the decision to make the move to Nashville. Since his relocation in 2014, Luke Combs has focused on songwriting and the success of his latest single “Hurricane” is a testament to his ability as a songwriter and performer.
Adam Craig’s five-song self-titled EP was released in 2016 and is just a glimpse of this singer/songwriter’s talent. Having had success as a songwriter with Parmalee’s “Close Your Eyes,” Love and Theft’s “Whiskey On My Breath” and additional cuts by Jason Aldean and Dustin Lynch, among others, now it’s Craig’s time in the spotlight. Luke Bryan has even tapped the singer as a performer for his Crash My Playa festival next year, no doubt a great way to kickoff 2017.
Jacob Davis has the stage presence that rivals many country mainstay artists. The Louisiana native has been in Nashville for five years now and is signed to Black River Entertainment. This year he acted as opener for Eli Young Band and Kelsea Ballerini but with a set as strong as his, Davis will find his name on the marquee in no time.
Clare Dunn is the singer girls want to befriend and guys want to shred guitars with. The best of both worlds, Dunn’s music is catchy but also has depth. The singer made her Opry debut in early 2016 where she performed her sultry single “Tuxedo” followed by the poignant “Old Hat” which was written for her father, both from her well-rounded EP released late last year.
Like many artists before him, Seth Ennis got his start in Nashville as a songwriter. Hustling when he first got to town, he wrote with everyone he could and networked as much as possible while touring on the weekends for himself or other acts that needed a player. The hard work paid off this year as he is now signed to Arista Nashville and currently has two songs at radio including Tyler Farr’s new single “Our Town,” which he co-wrote, and his debut single, “Woke Up In Nashville.”
Ryan Hurd has also seen much success as a songwriter, penning Blake Shelton’s No. 1 song “Lonely Tonight” as well as tracks for Dierks Bentley, Jake Owen, Florida Georgia Line and Tim McGraw. He recently released his sexy new single “City Girl” and will find himself on tour with Maren Morris and Thomas Rhett in 2017 as well as a debut performance at Stagecoach Festival.
Cody Johnson is as traditional country as they come. For those pining for authentic storytelling and country music reminiscent to that of George Strait and Alan Jackson, this Texas artist needs to be added to your playlist. His beautiful new single “With You I Am” is the perfect wedding song and with just one listen it’s easy to see why Johnson will be the name on everyone’s lips next year.
Runaway June enticed country fans with their catchy debut single “Lipstick” earlier this year where they advise a girl that she “better love somebody who ruins your lipstick, not your mascara.” An anthem for women everywhere, it’s a welcomed song that showcases the trio’s flawless three-part harmonies.
Chances are, you’re already familiar with Carly Pearce’s beautiful and velvety voice. The singer is featured on Josh Abbott Band’s previous single “Wasn’t That Drunk” and finds herself on the road this winter with Kelsea Ballerini. Her powerful new single “Every Little Thing” has her ethereal voice soar with light piano accompaniment and drum loops. It’s also a song that begs to be played on repeat.
Well known in Nashville songwriter circles, Caitlyn Smith has seen success in both the country and pop genres. Smith helped co-write Meghan Trainor’s No. 1 duet with John Legend, “Like I’m Gonna Lose You,” as well as Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton’s “You Can’t Make Old Friends.” While she released her excellent Starfire EP earlier this year (take a listen to the powerful “Before You Called Me Baby”), 2017 promises a full-length from the powerhouse singer/songwriter.
Texas country fans will recognize the name of Mike Ryan and with good reason as the singer has had three singles hit No. 1 on the Texas Music Chart from his 2014 album Bad Reputation. His latest single, “New Hometown,” is poised to do the same with his yearning vocals and the heartbreaking storyline.
Brett Young recently celebrated his first No. 1 song with “Sleep Without You.” This success will only continue with the release of his debut album due out in February. Young co-wrote 11 of the 12 tracks on the release, including his debut No. 1 single, and with tour dates lined up with Justin Moore and Lee Brice in 2017, he will continue to introduce his music to the masses.
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