Tag Archives: artists to watch

Variety Beat’s 10 Artists to Watch in 2018!

In 2017 we got to see a few of our artists from 18 Artists to Obsess Over in 2017 breakout in a huge way. Luke Combs had not one, but two #1 songs as well as a fully sold out headliner tour. Carly Pearce signed her first record deal early in the year and got her first #1 with her debut single, “Every Little Thing.” As 2017 has come to a close, we look out into the future of the bright stars looking to breakout in 2018.

Josh Dorr


Dorr released his debut EP, Sundancer, back in November of this year, which featured five tracks. Dorr has been in the country music scene for some time now, which included him teaming up with Fender for a tour back in 2015. Dorr’s crisp and distinctive voice separates him from the rest of the pack. Dorr’s EP features the song “Ready or Not,”  which was co-written along with Ryan Hurd. Look for Dorr to make a huge impact in 2018.

Notable Songs: “Ready or Not,” “I Need a Highway” and “Before the Summer Dies”

Walker McGuire


Walker McGuire have recently been making a big splash in the country music world. The duo comprises of members Jordan Walker and Johnny McGuire, who signed to Wheelhouse Records back in late 2016. Their debut single, “Til Tomorrow,” was released back in April of this year and cracked the top 50 on the Country Airplay Charts. Walker McGuire have opened for artists such as Old Dominion and Kane Brown. Walker McGuire are defining their own sound and it is a sound that has not been heard by any recent duos. In early 2018, be on the lookout for Walker McGuire’s debut EP.

Notable Songs: “Til Tomorrow,” “Mysteries of the World” and “Lost”

Taylor Acorn


Acorn just recently signed with Play It Again in November of this year. Acorn is a Lynchburg, Virginia native, who previously released three singles independently. Acorn just released her debut EP titled, Put It In a Song on November 17th. The EP features Acorn’s infectious title track “Put It In a Song.” Acorn has opened for artists such as Scotty McCreery and Parmalee. Acorn brings a fresh voice with intelligent songwriting that will attract fans from all over. Be on the lookout for Acorn to gain more traction in the upcoming year.

Notable Songs: “Put It In a Song,” “Same” and “Something Tonight”

High Valley


High Valley is a brother duo with members Brad Rempel and Curtis Rempel who are Alberta, Canada natives. High Valley has had major success in the Canadian market with numerous top 10 songs like “I Be U Be” reaching the #1 spot. Today, High Valley is currently signed with Atlantic Records and are making a major impact in the US market. High Valley’s style takes some of the traditional elements of country music and blends it with a modern spin. High Valley have recently just finished their first headline tour with Sirius XM The Highway and are looking for an even more successful 2018.

Notable Songs: “Make You Mine,” “The Only” and “She’s With Me”

Mike Ryan


Ryan is a San Antonio, Texas native and has been having a successful career in the Texas music scene with multiple #1 singles on the Texas Music Chart. Ryan has been featured as a “Highway Find” on Sirius XM’s The Highway with his song “Sad Song.” Ryan released his third studio album titled, Blink You’ll Miss It, which features the lead single “New Hometown.” Ryan is an avid touring artist playing over 100 shows per year, securing him a devoted fan following. Ryan’s voice is pure and the epitome of the what country music is, look for Ryan to have breakout success in this upcoming year.

Notable Songs: “New Hometown,”Damn Good Goodbye” and “Other Side of the Radio”



Smithfield is made up of members Jennifer Fiedler and Trey Smith, who happen to be childhood friends. Fiedler and Smith did not foresee themselves forming the duo, as they both ventured into their own solo careers before rekindling just a few years ago. Today, Smithfield is one of the hottest duos in the Nashville music scene. Smithfield’s latest single, “When You’re Gone,”  has been featured on Sirus XM’s The Highway along with their previous single “Hey Whiskey.” Smithfield also went on the road back this past year on The Highway Finds tour with Steve Moakler. Smithfield is currently working on new music which is slated for release in the new year.

Check out our interview with them!

Meet Country Duo Smithfield + Watch An Acoustic Performance of “When You’re Gone”

Notable Songs: “Hey Whiskey,” “You Don’t Know” and “Good Ol’ Days”

Bailey Bryan


Bryan was just recently inducted as a member of CMT’s Next Women of Country class of 2018 and is looking for a breakout year. Bryan released her debut EP, So Far, earlier in 2017. Bryan also had her first tour exposure when she hit the road with Dan + Shay on their Obsessed Tour. Bryan has also hit the road with Chris Lane on his Take Back Home Tour in the last quarter of this year. Bryan is looking to set herself apart with her distinctive vocals and lyrical style, with hopes of breaking out in 2018.

Check out our photo gallery of Bailey Bryan at Route 91!

Notable Songs: “Own It,” “Hard Drive Home” and “Life Goes On”

Brandon Lay


Lay is a Jackson, Tennessee native and has been starting to make an impact in the industry. Lay signed with EMI Records back in early 2016 and he released his debut single, Speakers, Bleachers and Preachers,” in the summer of 2017. Lay has opened for Old Dominion and is slated to open for Kenny Chesney starting in April of 2018. Lay likes to describe his style as a cross between eighties country and nineties rock, clearly defining his own sound. Lay is currently working on his debut album, in hopes to release it in the near future.

Notable Songs: “Speakers, Bleachers and Preachers,” “Let It” and “Wilder Horses”

Jordan Davis


Davis is a Shreveport, LA native who moved to Nashville after being influenced from his brother to take the chance. A few years late, Davis signed with UMG Nashville and is currently working on his debut album. Davis released his debut single, “Singles You Up,” in May of 2017. “Singles You Up” has flown up the charts and is currently on it’s way to the top 20 of the airplay charts, with no signs of slowing down. Davis recently finished opening for Kip Moore on his “Please the Fifth Tour” late this year and is looking to keep the momentum going into 2018.

Notable Songs: “Singles You Up,” “Slow Dance in a Parking Lot” and “Take It From Me”

Abby Anderson


At only 20 years old, Anderson has already begun to burst onto the scene in 2017. Anderson signed a record deal with Black River Entertainment back in February of this year. Anderson released her debut single, “This Feeling,” this past September. Anderson also had the opportunity to open for Kelsea Ballerini and she is currently working on her debut album. Anderson also was inducted to CMT’s Next Women of Country for 2018 and is looking to build off of this success.

Notable Song: “This Feeling”

Spotify Playlist of the Artists Featured


Variety Beat’s 18 Artists to Obsess Over in 2017

2016 is quickly coming to a close and with that another year of music ends as well. In 2016 we saw many new artists breakthrough such as Maren MorrisKelsea BalleriniBrett Young and Brothers Osborne among others. We will be looking forward to which artists will breakthrough in 2017 and ones we are still gonna be obsessing about. Here is our list (in no particular order) for 18 artists that should be on your radar in the upcoming year.

Brooke Eden


Eden released her debut EP, “Welcome To The Weekend,” this year and is slated to release her full length album later in 2017. Eden has opened for artists such as Alan JacksonDierks Bentley and Tim McGraw to name a few. Eden also made her Grand Ole Opry Debut on November 19th. With Eden’s raw vocal talent and high intensity live shows, Eden is one you will not want to miss in 2017. Eden is also currently scheduled to play at Luke Bryan’sCrash My Playa and at Stagecoach next year.

Notable Songs: “Act Like You Don’t,” “Diamonds” and “Silence Speaks”

Kelleigh Bannen


Bannen has had a whirlwind of an adventure in 2016 with the departure from her record label. However, that did not stop Bannen from having an incredible year and releasing her debut EP, “Cheap Sunglasses” in June of 2016. Bannen currently also runs a blog and podcast  (free on iTunes) titled, This Nashville Life, which gives a behind the scenes look at what it is like being an artist in Nashville. Our Editor was also on the podcast and you can listen to it here! Bannen’s vocals instantly grab your attention and you will be hearing a lot more from her in 2017. Bannen is also currently scheduled to play at Luke Bryan’sCrash My Playa, in January 2017.

Notable Songs: “Cheap Sunglasses,” “Welcome to the Party” and “Once Upon A”

Ryan Hurd


Hurd has had a successful career as a hit songwriter. Writing songs like Blake Shelton’s “Lonely Tonight,” Dierks Bentley’s “I’ll Be The Moon,” and Florida Georgia Line’s “Island.” In 2016 Hurd released some songs of his own on Spotify and is currently working on new music in the upcoming year. Hurd’s unique voice sets him apart from other artists and is making a name for himself. Hurd is currently gearing up for his tour with Maren Morris on select dates and with Thomas Rhett starting in the end of February.

Notable Songs: “Hold You Back,” “Love in a Bar” and “City Girl”

Kalie Shorr


Shorr has had a successful 2016 with her debut single, “Fight Like A Girl,” which received significant airplay on Sirius XM’s The Highway. Shorr is also featured as a Highway Find and earned a spot to play at the CMA Music Festival Kick Off Concert during CMA Fest this past year. Shorr also currently plays every Monday night at Song Suffragettes along with other female songwriters. Shorr has a voice that is grabbing the attention of Nashville and is on the verge of stardom in 2017.

Notable Songs: “Fight Like A Girl,” “He’s Just Not That Into You” and “Break the Breakup”

Carly Pearce


Pearce has been making a big splash in 2016 and is looking to continue the success into 2017. Pearce’s fierce attitude and one of a kind vocals makes her a clear standout from the rest. Pearce was the duo partner on Josh Abbott Band’s song “Wasn’t That Drunk,” which also lead to a live performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live over the summer. Pearce has also been getting significant airplay on Sirius XM’s The Highway with her latest single, “Every Little Thing,” and has opened for artists such as Kelsea BalleriniJosh Abbott Band and Eli Young Band. Keep an eye out for upcoming releases from Pearce in 2017, she is one that you will not want to miss.

Notable Songs: “Blame The Whiskey,” “Wasn’t That Drunk” and “Every Little Thing”

Lindsay Ell


Ell is originally from Canada, but is currently residing in Nashville. Ell is known for her killer guitar playing skills with a strong vocal talent to go along with it. Ell has opened up for artists like Brad PaisleyThe Raging Idiots, and Eric Paslay all in 2016. Ell also shared the stage with Carrie Underwood as a guitar player during Underwood’s performance at the 2016 CMA Awards. Ell released her second single, “All Alright,” this year and she is currently working on a future project that is due out in 2017. Ell will also be opening for Brad Paisley‘s Life Amplified Tour in February.

Notable Songs: “By the Way,” “All Alright” and “Criminal”

Luke Combs


Combs recently signed with Columbia Nashville under the Sony Music Group in October of 2016. Combs released his debut single “Hurricane,” which has been gaining in popularity and reached the Billboard Hot Country Top 40Combs offers a new sound that will have you listening to his debut EP on repeat. Combs is currently gearing up for his opening spot on Brantley Gilbert‘s The Devil Don’t Sleep Tour in early 2017. 2017 is looking to be a huge year for Combs with no signs of slowing down.

Notable Songs: “Hurricane,” “Used to You” and “Memories Are Made Of”

Runaway June


Runaway June is a trio with members, Naomi CookesHannah Mulholland and Jennifer Wayne. Runaway June brings in a new dynamic to country radio that has not been heard since the Dixie Chicks. Runaway June’s debut single, “Lipstick,” recently reached the top 30 at country radio, which is the first time in over a decade that an all-female trio has accomplished this feat. Runaway June also shared the stage with Carrie Underwood at the 2016 CMA Awards. With Cookes on lead vocals and jaw-dropping harmonies, Runaway June creates an organic sound that is unlike any other group. Look for Runaway June to make a huge splash in 2017.

Notable Songs:  “Lipstick,” “Wild West” and “Blue Roses”

Jamie Lynn Spears


Spears first shined with her debut single, “How Could I Want More,” which was released back in late 2013. Spears also released her debut EP, The Journey, in 2014 and her latest single, “Sleepover,” in the summer of 2016. Spears also has had success as a songwriter with Jana Kramer‘s “I Got the Boy,” which entered the top 10 on Country airplay. Spears’ authentic sound and natural songwriting skills creates a fresh Country sound. Spears has been working with some of the biggest songwriters in Nashville and has over 100 songs under her belt. Be on the look out for future releases by Spears in the upcoming year.

Notable Songs: “Sleepover,” “How Could I Want More” and “Run”

Olivia Lane


Lane’s country twang is infused with pop influences to create a distinguishing sound with colorful lyrics to express her life experiences, that sets her apart. Lane released her self-titled EP in the summer of 2016 with the lead single, “Make My Own Sunshine.” Lane has an infectious, bubbly personality that shines while she is on stage. Lane has opened for artists such as Wynonna and Frankie Ballard and she is currently getting ready for her She Fits Tour, which will bring a free concert to lucky contest winners. Lane is constantly in the studio and writing new music for future releases, be on the look out for a full length album in the near future.

Notable Songs: “Make My Own Sunshine,” “Quarter Life Crisis” and “You Part 2”

Russell Dickerson


Dickerson has just recently signed to Sony Music and is gearing up to release his debut single, “Yours,” to Country radio in 2017. Dickerson released his debut EP, Yours, in 2016 which features four songs. Dickerson’s songs have been featured on Sirius XM’s The Highway and his EP debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Heart Seeker Chart. Dickerson has opened for artists such as Florida Georgia LineCanaan Smith and Billy Currington, bringing his high energy stage presence. Dickerson is currently finishing up his first headlining tour and is then heading out on the road on Thomas Rhett‘s Home Team Tour in 2017.

Notable Songs: “Yours,” “Blue Tacoma” and “MGNO”

Courtney Cole


Cole has already gained the attention from female superstar, Miranda Lambert, opening for Lambert on her Roadside Bars & Pink Guitars Tour in 2015. Cole currently has her four song EP, #NoFilter, on Spotify and just released her newest song, “Free.99.” Cole features modern-day production while still producing a natural Country sound that is her own. Cole’s voice is one that you will be hearing a lot more of and be on the look out for new music in 2017.

Notable Songs: “Drunk,” “Loud” and “Fall Like Rain”

Mallary Hope


Some of you may recognize Hope from Darius Rucker‘s previous two albums, being his duet partner on two of songs. Hope was also a co-writer of Lauren Alaina‘s song, “Georgia Peaches” and “The Locket” back in late 2011. Since then, Hope has released some of her own music with her songs “Love Lives On” and “Blossom In the Dust” both reaching the top 50 on the charts. This past year Hope signed with Curb Records and is currently in the process of recording her debut Christian album due out next year. With Hope’s soothing voice with her hitting high notes so effortlessly, it is clear to see why she is one to be on the lookout for in 2017.

Notable Songs: “Love Lives On,” “Blossom In the Dust” and “I Will Love You Still”

William Michael Morgan


Morgan has had his first breakout moment in his career with his debut single, “I Met a Girl,” reaching the #1 spot on the Country Airplay Charts. Along with this, Morgan released his debut album, Vinyl, in 2016. Morgan brings the classic country sound to the mainstream while creating a sound that fans new and old will love. Morgan’s deep lyrically content and life experiences pens together memorable songs that fans alike can relate to. Be sure to keep Morgan on your radar in 2017 as you will be hearing more and more of him.

Notable Songs: “I Met a Girl,” “Vinyl” and “Backseat Driver”

Mary Sarah


Sarah was recently on the season 10 of NBC‘s The Voice, where she reached the top 5 and wowed fans of the show. Sarah also released her debut album back in 2015 and more recently made her Grand Ole Opry debut back on May 31st of this past year. Sarah has the vocal ability to hit any note which is paired with her natural Country sound. Sarah also has the ability to sing songs of the past with ease and add her own spin to those classics, along with modern-day sound. Keep an eye out on Sarah as she is busy in the studio looking to put out new music in 2017.

Notable Songs: “Dress Up This Town,” “More Jack Than Ice” and “There Goes That Memory Again”

Livy Jeanne


Jeanne is Alberta-born singer who has just recently made the move to Nashville this year. Jeanne has had success in Canada with two of her songs charting on Canadian radio charts. Jeanne was also a 2016 CCMA Discovery Program finalist, which is a program that seeks to find the next big country music star. Jeanne released her debut album in 2015 and has worked with hit songwriters such as Phil Barton and Danny Myrick. Jeanne’s effortless and full of life voice, brings in a refreshing sound that keeps fans wanting more. Jeanne is currently working hard on new music that will be out sometime in the near future.

Notable Songs: “I Got Your Number,” “80 Proof” and “Fake It Past Goodbye”

Megan & Liz


Twin sisters, Megan Mace and Liz Mace have recently made the switch from Pop to Country in the past few years and are starting to make a big splash. Megan & Liz are currently featured with My Country Nation and they also work closely with Radio Disney Country. Most recently, Megan & Liz released their second EP in early 2016 along with other singles spread throughout the year. Megan & Liz have also opened for artists like Russell Dickerson on his most recent tour. Megan & Liz bring a dynamic sound to the scene with flawless harmonies that will turn heads wherever they are performing. Megan & Liz are on the cusp of stardom and are well on their way to breakout in 2017.

Notable Songs: “Drive,” “Almost” and “New at This”

Hayley Orrantia


Some of you may be familiar with Orrantia from ABC’s hit comedy, The Goldbergs or from The X Factor where Orrantia reached the Top 9 a part of the group, Lakoda Rayne in 2011. Today, Orrantia has been working with top Nashville producers and songwriters such as Mark Bright and Corey Crowder. Orrantia’s latest single “Strong, Sweet & Southern” was released back in September. Orrantia proves to be someone to keep an eye on with her outgoing personality paired with her crisp and mellifluous voice. Orrantia has been working on her forthcoming EP that is due out some time in 2017.

Notable Songs: “Love Sick,” “Until Then” and “Strong, Sweet & Southern”

With 2017 just around the corner there is no telling what this year will bring. Who will become the next big artist? That question does not have an answer, but what is for certain is that there are an endless amount of artists on the brink of stardom. There is no telling what 2017 can bring to the music scene and the possibilities are endless.

Spotify Playlist of Artists Featured