Artists to Watch in 2018
Every year there’s a certain level of excitement and even a little anxiety to see which new artists finally breakout on a mainstream level and are given the attention they deserve. The new and up and coming artists who work so hard to get their music heard by as many people and through as many outlets as possible finally get their chance to shine on a much broader scale than I’m sure they’re used to. Last Year I compiled a list of artists to watch out for in 2017 that included Lindsay Ell, Ryan Hurd, Carly Pearce, Waterloo Revival, Bailey Bryan, Caitlyn Smith, Brandon Ray, Smithfield, Seth Ennis, and Jon Langston. All of those artists finally saw radio airplay this year, and as a result they’ve all gained a whole lot more traction on social media. Of those artists, Lindsay Ell and Carly Pearce came out swinging in 2017, earning them success on the music charts with a #1 album for Ell (The Project) and a #1 song for Pearce (“Every Little Thing”).
This year I’ve compiled a new list of artists who I think are worth watching out for in 2018. These are the artists I think are extra special and unique, so much so that there’s just no reason for them not to breakthrough to mainstream in what will hopefully be a big way. Unmistakable talent aside, their passion, dedication and drive are absolutely inspiring. Most importantly, though, it’s the way they stay true to themselves, never straying from the artists they know they really are, that really makes them stand out in their own distinct ways. So, if you’re not already on board and you don’t already know who these amazing artists are, then I suggest checking them out now before you’re late to the party.
1)Ryan Kinder – The first time I saw this guy was at CMA Fest 2017 in Nashville, and he absolutely blew me away with just three songs and an acoustic guitar. Hailing from Alabama, Kinder’s sound is most comparable to that of Train front man, Pat Monahan. Passionate and soulful, you can feel the emotion seeping out of Kinder with every note he sings. The singer-songwriter’s ability to flawlessly merge his unique blend of country and pop with exquisite lyrics that paint such descriptive pictures like scenes from a movie, literally leaves you longing to know how each story ends. As if that wasn’t enough, Kinder is also a fantastic guitar player with a voice that was just made to be heard on the radio. No doubt his songs will speak right to your heart and win you over from the very first note.
2)Devin Dawson – Although, he may have a certain kind of dark mystique about him, the California native isn’t afraid to show his sweet side through his music. Dawson’s first single, “All on Me” is an excellent portrayal of his sensitivity, and the other early releases from his forthcoming album are just as charming, a trait that will no doubt win over female fans. The singer’s edgy sound, along with his detailed storytelling, and clever phrasing are already setting him apart from other artists on country radio right now, making Devin Dawson’s style completely distinct and all his own. His debut album is already scheduled for release on January 19th and will most likely be one of the best albums of 2018, so trust me when I say you’re not going to want to miss out on Devin Dawson.
3)Jillian Jacqueline – Already being referred to as one of Nashville’s rising stars, Jillian Jacqueline has been creating quite the buzz for herself since the release of her debut EP titled Side A. Individuality and acceptance for who she is are the very essence of the kind of artist this Pennsylvania native really is. She isn’t afraid to just be herself and write how she feels, and that is clear throughout her six song EP, which is chock full of emotional anthems about love and life. And thanks to Jacqueline’s fresh spin on relationship problems and sharp writing skills, these songs don’t feel like songs we’ve already heard before. It won’t be long before Jillian Jacqueline is your next female obsession, so best to hop on the bus now before you’re left behind missing out on one of the next great women of country music.
4)Jordan Davis – If you haven’t already heard the insanely catchy tune, “Singles You Up” by this Louisiana native, then you are most definitely missing out on one of the most exciting new artists in country music, probably since Sam Hunt. Jordan Davis not only knows how to write a damn good song; he also knows how to entertain a crowd. In fact, just ask anyone who’s seen him open for Kip Moore on the Plead the Fifth Tour, and I’m sure they’ll tell you just how enjoyable Jordan Davis is to listen to and watch on stage. This year the singer gave country music fans a taste of what to expect from him in 2018, with three singles available now for download and streaming – “Singles You Up,” “Slow Dance in a Parking Lot,” and “Take it From Me” – all of which are an excellent introduction to who Jordan Davis is as an artist. Fun, sensitive, and charismatic, there’s no doubt Davis will be the next big thing to hit country music.
5)Kalie Shorr – Recently named one of CMT’s Next Women of Country Music, this east coast native is most definitely someone to keep on your radar. Shorr found success with her first single, which has become an anthem and inspiration for females everywhere, thanks to SiriusXM’s The Highway and CMT both featuring the song “Fight Like a Girl” as part of their Artist Discovery and Highway Find segments. If you listen to one song by Kalie Shorr, make sure it’s “Fight Like a Girl” because it is the most accurate reflection of who Shorr is as both an artist and a human being. Determined to succeed and make a difference, the singer-songwriter has found her place in country music as one of the co-founders of the Song Suffragettes, a songwriter’s showcase that highlights the best and most talented female singer-songwriters in Nashville and sells out the Listening Room Café almost every Monday night. Thanks to Shorr’s dedication and passion for women empowerment, and the success of Song Suffragettes, more and more women are gaining record deals, publishing deals, radio airplay and the overall attention they deserve. Shorr herself is a fireball of talent, passion, and spunk wrapped in glitter, pastels, and sparkle, and she puts every ounce of her heart and soul into her music. While her 2017 Slingshot EP is full of upbeat tempos, emotionally witty lyrics, and angelic melodies that pack a punch, her brand new single, “Two Hands” takes things to the next level and is definitely preparing fans for what’s to come in 2018.
6)Josh Dorr – If you’re a fan of wholesome, honest, emotion-filled stories that come straight from the heart, look no further than this Wyoming native. Wise beyond his years, Dorr incorporates all of life’s ups and downs, and trials and tribulations into his music, making his songs all the more relatable for fans who are looking for that feeling of authenticity that only comes from writing straight from the heart. One song in particular on Dorr’s sophomore EP entitled Sundancer that is gaining quite a bit of attention for good reason is the gut wrenching track, “Ready or Not,” which the singer wrote with 2017 breakthrough artist and fellow songwriter, Ryan Hurd. Using beautifully written lyrics that touch on the everyday struggles most couples face regularly, Dorr and Hurd perfectly describe what unconditional love is supposed to look like, no matter how bad things may get. This is by far one of the best songs released in 2017, and a clear indicator that Josh Dorr is only scratching the surface of his musical potential.
7)Jacob Bryant – With his gritty, traditional country sound that has just enough of a modern twist to keep it relevant and fresh, and lyrics that are as raw and real as anything George Jones or Merle Haggard ever wrote, Jacob Bryant can easily be considered the modern-day Man in Black. His songs mirror his life story, offering listeners an inside and often unfortunate look at the pain and turmoil he’s experienced through the years due to the loss of his mother, his battle with addiction, and a marriage that ended in a heartbreaking divorce. Bryant’s work ethic and resilience in an industry that only wants to commercialize him are a huge part of the singer’s character and what make his story all the more inspiring. For those that don’t think traditional country music exists anymore, I dare you to listen to any one of Jacob Bryant’s fantastic EPs and see if you don’t change your mind after that. It won’t be long before country music realizes everything this incredible artist has to offer, and I for one cannot wait for that day to come.
8)Lena Stone – As the other co-anchor of Song Suffragettes, Lena Stone has already built a reputation for herself in Nashville, not only as an extremely talented singer and songwriter, but also as a key player in what I think can be referred to as the Country Feminist Movement. Stone’s enthusiasm for and ambition to see as many female country music artists as possible achieve success in an industry almost entirely dominated by men is as much encouraging as it is impressive. Working diligently and persistently since day one, Stone doesn’t accept defeat and has no intention of giving up on her dreams. Exceptionally active and savvy on social media with a brain for music business and the heart of a genuine artist, this Massachusetts native literally has all of the talent, smarts and personality to take her craft as far as she wants to take it. The buzz surrounding her current, super sweet and flirty single, “Can’t Think Straight,” is only the beginning of more exciting things to come from Stone, as she continues to tease fans with post after post of more new music to come in 2018.
Make sure you follow and keep up with every one of our Artists to Watch on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter so as not to miss out on the amazing things to come from them in 2018!