Being selected for the New Faces of Country Music show is one of the most significant honors an up and coming artist can receive from the country music industry, as radio personnel from across the country vote for five breakout acts of the year. Jimmie Allen, Lindsay Ell, Russell Dickerson, LANCO and Dylan Scott have been appointed to the 2019 class, and the esteemed group displayed their varying talents at the New Faces showcase during Country Radio Seminar in Nashville.
From the moment the curtain opened, Dickerson was full of high energy that he maintained throughout his four-song set. He treated his showcase more like a concert, demonstrating his free-spirited personality by making his way through the room, singing directly to the hundreds of people who helped him achieve two No. 1 singles, “Yours” and “Blue Tacoma.” In between his hits and a medley of female-centric songs that included “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” he profusely thanked country radio while reflecting on his first time attending CRS in 2010, hoping every year since that he’d grace the New Faces stage. “I’ve been dreaming of this day from the first day I came here,” he said gratefully. “Country radio, you have changed my life.”
As the lone female amongst 13 nominees, Ell proved to be a strong, defining voice in the 2019 class and genre at large. The fierce guitarist let the music take the spotlight, introducing herself by shredding on guitar to “Criminal” before she made the bold move of singing a brand new track, the poignant, ballad-esque “Heaven You Want to Go To,” which showed off her dynamic voice as she intertwined U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name.” Ell has clearly come into her own, exuding soulfulness and passion as she ended her performance with the haunting “Space,” a number that demonstrates her unwavering voice and ability to immerse herself in a fervent song – so much so that she captivates the room around her.
After an introductory video that featured Allen’s adorable son Aidyn sharing the many special memories Allen experienced in 2018, from his Grand Ole Opry debut to a family trip to Disney World, Allen established a charming presence when he opened his set with “County Lines” and romantic single “Make Me Want To.” Allen brought sentimentality to the show, whether he was honoring his late grandmother’s memory, “I do this for her,” he said, or making his way to the back of the ballroom, shaking hands and high-fiving the many radio programmers who believed in his chart-topping debut single “Best Shot.” He made a defining statement with his closing number “All Tractors Ain’t Green,” written from his perspective of being one of the few black artists in country music and extended the song’s message to those who’ve felt suppressed, proving that his humility and desire to write meaningful music is what makes him one of the genre’s important new artists.
While fans know them for their breakthrough love ballad “Greatest Love Story,” LANCO proved they’re well-rounded sonically and lyrically between “Born to Love You” and the upbeat rocker “Ride On.” In an introspective set where they expressed how music has the ability to heal and tell impactful stories, the five-member band unveiled a new song titled “Save Me,” inspired by fans who have shared stories of feeling lost in life when someone stepped in to guide them, making for one of the night’s most thoughtful moments.
There was a sense of gratefulness Scott brought to his New Faces production in between performances of his first No. 1 hit “My Girl,” “Nothing to Do Town” and a standout cover of Keith Whitley’s “Don’t Close Your Eyes.” Scott found meaning in the event as he reminisced about attending New Faces in years past, not only watching the likes of Luke Combs, Carly Pearce and more appear in the coveted show, but seeing the team of supporters who helped them get there revel in that special moment. “If I could ever play this stage,” Scott observed, recognizing his own team, “that would be biggest moment of my career.”