It’s no secret there was a ton of new music releases in 2016, both from our usual A-List artists as well as some outstanding breakthrough artists that are currently just killing it on radio and music charts. This year I want you, my awesome readers, to be the first to get on board with who I believe are the artists to watch out for in 2017. These are the artists who are already starting to make waves in one way or another in country music, and who will no doubt be experiencing BIG things in the upcoming year. I for one cannot wait to see what 2017 has in store for these country rockstars!

1)Waterloo Revival – I cannot stress enough how amazing these guys are! They’ve been working their butts off for years and are finally starting to see their hard work pay off after being signed to Toby Keith’s Show Dog Nashville record label and spending the summer of 2016 opening for him on his Interstates and Highways Tour sponsored by Ford F-150 series. Their music has it all – fun, upbeat and catchy melodies to keep you dancing, dreamy, completely swoon-worthy lyrics that are as heartfelt and relatable as one can get, and Austin accents that separate them from any other artist on mainstream country radio right now. They’ve had a hell of a 2016 and are gearing up for what will no doubt be an exciting 2017. Go get on board and support country’s next hottest duo now before you’re late to the bus!

Recommended Songs – “That Damn I Didn’t Give”; “Love Runs Deep”; “Meet Up In the Middle”; “I Could Get Used to This”; “Backwood Bump”; “Fall”

2)Ryan Hurd – This guy has had a successful career so far as a songwriter, writing for some of country music’s biggest artists (Blake Shelton, Dierks Bentley & Jake Owen just to name a few), but towards the end of 2016 he decided it was time to release some of his own music and focus on his career as an artist, and not just a songwriter. He released four singles before the end of 2016 that you can go check out on Apple Music and Spotfiy, all of which are equally as incredible as the next. Ryan Hurd has a sound that is all his own, as you will not hear it anywhere else on mainstream radio right now. Each song he’s released is different from one another while still managing to maintain a certain uniqueness that is specific only to Ryan. As soon as you hear his music you know it’s his and you know you won’t hear that sound from any other artist. Seeing as he just signed his first record deal with Sony Music Nashville, I don’t doubt that 2017 will be the year everyone knows who Ryan Hurd is, not just as a songwriter, but as an artist!

Recommended Songs – “We Do Us”; “City Girl”; “Love in a Bar”; “Hold You Back”

3)Bailey Bryan – I was fortunate enough to see Bailey open for Dylan Scott at Joe’s Live in Rosemont back in October. I remember watching her stand there with her guitar singing her own songs that nobody knew at that point and thinking to myself how she reminded me of a young Taylor Swift. She’s got so much talent and so much potential to become so much bigger than she’ll be able to imagine. Bailey’s debut single, “Own It” is like an anthem for quirky girls everywhere and is more awesome than I can even put into words. She’s only 18 years old but is already wise beyond her years, and she knows how to incorporate that wisdom into her music. Her clever storytelling lyrics describe what it’s like to just be a normal girl who isn’t perfect but is going to own her imperfections all the same. All those quirky little details that we all try to conceal about ourselves are really what make us the humans that we are, and we need to take a page out of Bailey’s book and just own them. She’s exactly what music needs right now and I think everyone needs to hear what she has to say!

Recommend Songs – “Own It”

4)Carly Pearce – She’s the female voice on the Josh Abbot Band’s hit, “Wasn’t That Drunk,” and she’s an artist you’re going to want to know about sooner rather than later. Her single, “Every Little Thing” is full of the kind of truth and soul that we all need in our lives, and it’s the perfect song for you and your girlfriends to have a nice group cry to over a couple of bottles of wine. Carly has a voice that is soft but powerful and is demanding to be heard on a larger scale.

Recommended Songs – “Every Little Thing”

5)Smithfield – This male/female country duo already has a hit on satellite radio with their single, “Hey Whiskey,” but their debut album was released in 2015 and is full of potential radio hits that mainstream country radio needs to get its hands on now. Their formula may not be groundbreaking, but their talent and catchy sound is undeniable. I’m hoping their music catches more radio waves and they get the attention they deserve.

Recommend Songs – “You Don’t Know”; “Nothing But the Night”

6)Caitlyn Smith – This very gifted singer songwriter is an artist in every sense of the word. She unquestionably has one of the most soulful and powerful voices I’ve heard in a long time, and her songs are more beautiful and haunting than any others on radio right now. Caitlyn co-wrote Meghan Trainor’s #1 hit duet with John Legend, “Like I’m Gonna Lose You,” and released her latest EP in 2016 entitled Starfire. There’s no question her full length album, when it’s hopefully released this year, will be nothing short of spectacular.

Recommend Songs – “Before You Called Me Baby”;“Starfire”; “Do You Think About Me”

7)Brandon Ray – When a strong male voice comes  along that’s wholesome in both his delivery and his lyrical content, you tend to want to pay attention to what he’s singing. Brandon Ray is one of those voices you are going to want to pay attention to this year. This Texas native has a very pop/rock sound with country roots attached to it, and the kind of songwriting talent you find in Kip Moore, John Mellencamp, and Bruce Springsteen songs. His impressive guitar skills landed him a gig as Brett Eldredge’s guitar player, which took him on a six week run during Taylor Swift’s Red Tour. Brandon Ray has two singles out now on Apple Music and Spotify that have more authenticity to them than a lot of the songs that are currently played on mainstream country radio.

Recommend Songs – “That Could Be Us”; “American Way”

8)Lindsay Ell – She slayed on guitar during Carrie Underwood’s all female performance of “Dirty Laundry” on the 50th CMA Awards show, she’s dating iHeartRadio country host Bobby Bones, and she just scored herself a spot opening for Brad Paisley on his upcoming tour. Lindsay Ell is quickly making a name for herself in country music and for good reason. She is not only an excellent musician and brilliant singer and songwriter, but she’s also a remarkable human being. If you follow her on social media you’ll understand exactly what I mean. Lindsay also released her latest single, “All Alright” in 2016, and it’s full of more positivity and resilience than most people can manage to muster up in an entire lifetime. There’s nothing this Canadian singer can’t do, and she continues to prove that. She’s currently in the studio, hopefully working on more new music that country radio will take notice of.

Recommended Songs – “All Alright”; “By the Way”; “Shut Me Up”

9)Jon Langston – This Georgia boy is no stranger to country music, as he’s got four EPs behind him and a strong fan base that supports him both at live shows and on social media. His recent single, “All Eyes On Us” was released at the end of 2016 and is pure party country rockin’ at its best. It’s definitely the kind of song you blast at 11, not 10, whether you’re cruising down some ole country backroads or you’re looking to get your next party started on a high note. Langston’s got that gritty Georgia boy sound that’s all too familiar to country music fans, but what he brings to the table is more rock inspired and that helps set him apart from the rest. This is exactly the kind of song that would soar at country radio, and will no doubt put Langston on the map.

Recommended Songs – “All Eyes On Us”; “Rollin’ In, Rockin’ Out”; “Showtime”; “Forever Girl”

10)Seth Ennis – Every now and then a singer songwriter comes along who shines just a little brighter than the rest in a way that’s so subtle, you almost don’t even realize what they’re doing. Seth Ennis is that singer songwriter. In 2016 he co-wrote on Tyler Farr’s powerful new single, “Our Town,” and also released his first solo single, “Woke Up in Nashville.” The reflective piano driven ballad showcases both the singer’s vocal talents and songwriting skills, while infusing pop elements one would normally hear from artists like The Fray. With a recent record deal now under his belt with Arista Nashville, no doubt Seth Ennis is an artist who will be giving fans more well-crafted songs like his debut single, hopefully sooner rather than later.

Recommended Songs – “Woke Up in Nashville”