Chris Stapleton, Jason Isbell Top ‘Nashville Scene’ Country Music Critics Poll


Two of music’s most compelling voices and evocative songwriters ruled the the Nashville Scene‘s 16th annual Country Music Critics Poll. Chris Stapleton and Jason Isbell were ranked No. 1 and No. 2 (respectively) in several categories, including Best Male Vocalists, Best Songwriters and Artists of the Year. Stapleton’s Traveller and Isbell’s Something More Than Free also landed as the No. 1 and No. 2 albums in the poll, respectively.

Additionally, Isbell and Stapleton made a strong showing among Best Singles, with Isbell’s “24 Frames” at No. 2, followed by Stapleton’s “Tennessee Whiskey” and “Traveller” at No. 5 and No. 8, respectively.

Other winners topping the poll this year include Little Big Town (Best Single for “Girl Crush,” and Best Duos and Groups), Cam (Best New Artists), Bob Dylan (#1 and #2 Best Reissue), Ashley Monroe (Best Female Vocalists) and the Mavericks (Best Live Acts). Also high in the rankings were Kacey Musgraves, Eric Church, Maddie & Tae, and Willie Nelson.

Voters surveyed in this year’s poll include more than 80 journalists, who have written for publications including MusicRow, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Rolling Stone, Billboard, and more.

For a full list of winners from the 16th Annual Country Music Critics Poll, visit


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About the Author

Jessica Nicholson serves as the Managing Editor for MusicRow magazine. Her previous music journalism experience includes work with Country Weekly magazine and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) magazine. She holds a BBA degree in Music Business and Marketing from Belmont University. She welcomes your feedback at [email protected]

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