MusicRow is proud to reveal its list of artists, who in 2020, are predicted to become the Next Big Thing (NBT). The annual NBT list features 11 artists, who are each profiled in MusicRow‘s latest 2020 Touring Issue print magazine, which hits shelves today (Dec. 3).
MusicRow Magazine’s Next Big Thing Class of 2020 has set itself apart from today’s artists with talent and hard work. Some of these NBT artists have just released their first singles, while others are celebrating chart-topping hits. All have broken through by bringing unique styles and by surrounding themselves with team members who champion them.
MusicRow Magazine’s 2020 Next Big Thing Artists:
Atlantic Records/Warner Music Nashville / Arthouse/UMPG Nashville / WME / bluejacket / BMI
After establishing herself as a pop songwriter, Ingrid Andress chipped away at expectations of herself and her sound with her debut single at country radio, “More Hearts Than Mine.” The tune about bringing a potential new lover home to her parents is thrillingly honest and a refreshing perspective. Likewise, her first major label radio track, “Lady Like,” bucks the stereotypical gender roles placed on women.
With several co-writer credits to her name, including Charli XCX’s “Boys” and FLETCHER’s “About You,” Andress first honed her skills writing with heavy hitters in the music community such as Sam Hunt and Alicia Keys. Sonically, the Colorado native’s music is interesting and fresh, but not distracting from the message of the songs. With the release of her latest tracks “Both” and “We’re Not Friends,” Andress’ new music continues to prove her depth and skill as a songwriter.
BMLG (Valory Music Co.)/Tape Room Records / Tape Room Music / CAA / Dennis Entertainment / ASCAP
Sami Bearden, Savana Santos and Sam Backoff of Avenue Beat are the brash, witty, and wildly melodic pop trio that the world didn’t know it needed. I got more pop than a shook up Mountain Dew / If that’s not what you like, There must be something wrong with you, the trio sings with a cheeky grin in their single “Delight.” The three wrote all four songs on their debut, self-titled EP, which includes “Delight,” a girl power salute in “Be A Bro,” a Gen-Z post-break-up anthem in “Ruin That For Me” and a self-induced euphoria in “Broke.”
Now in their early 20s, childhood friends Santos and Backoff met Bearden at a summer theater camp and ultimately formed Avenue Beat. They claim Taylor Swift and Billie Eilish as musical influences, and are making their way as clever songwriters with charmingly raw lyrics and ear candy harmonies.
Warner Music Nashville / WME / Red Light Management / BMI
Gabby Barrett hit the ground running after rising to national prominence as a finalist on ABC’s American Idol. Wasting no time, the powerhouse vocalist showed off her depth with her ingenious first single, “I Hope,” which quickly claimed the No. 1 spot on SiriusXM’s The Highway Hot 30 Countdown and on Radio Disney’s Country Top 50 chart. The ear catching tune throws the listener for a loop at its chorus, I hope you spend your last dime to put a rock on her hand / I hope she’s wilder than your wildest dreams, she’s everything you’re ever gonna need / And then I hope she cheats, like you did on me, Barrett reveals.
The Pennsylvania native began singing in her local gospel choir at nine years old before auditioning for Idol at just 17 where her dynamic voice, paired with her bold stage presence, propelled her to the Top 3. Barrett is currently in the studio with Grammy-nominated producer Ross Copperman working on her debut full-length album.
BBR Music Group / Blanco Theory / UTA / BlackBox Entertainment / SESAC
In a blended version of country and hip-hop music, Blanco Brown proudly calls his musical stylings “TrailerTrap.” His musical concoction can be heard in his multi-week No. 1 hit, “The Git Up,” which has been certified Platinum by the RIAA. The Georgia native got his start in music as a background singer, artist and Grammy-nominated engineer, working with talent including Fergie, Childish Gambino, Kane Brown and Chris Brown.
Brown has the unique gift of seeing colors when creating music. His debut album Honeysuckle & Lightning Bugs is a colorful reflection of his upbringing, from his school days in Atlanta to his summers in rural Georgia, and draws upon the rawness and storytelling abilities of his two biggest musical influences, Johnny Cash and Outkast. Brown wrote or co-wrote, as well as produced, every track on his debut record.
UMG Nashville (Capitol Records Nashville) / UMPG Nashville / WME / Red Light Management / ASCAP
Growing up in the tiny town of Ellaville, Georgia made Caylee Hammack feel like a self-described “hippie in a hillbilly town.” At just 25, her life experiences and cultivated style have given her a unique perspective and approach to songwriting.
From using fake IDs to get gigs around South Georgia, to watching a love that she’d given everything for burn out, to sleeping in her car when she arrived in Nashville and then losing her home in an electrical fire, Hammack’s morphed into a spunky, resilient and sensible singer-songwriter. Her current Top 40 breakout single “Family Tree,” co-written and co-produced by Hammack, shows off that spunk and earned wisdom. The track was also the most-added single at country radio by a female artist in over three years.
Hammack’s new groovy tune, “Preciatcha” further speaks to that spunky soul with its lyrics Momma always said broken hearts are a blessing and every hand that you hold, holds one hell of a lesson / Guess I’m rambling a little but there’s something that I gotta say / Preciatcha, every time you made me cry, I preciatcha even how you said goodbye.
Big Loud Records/Tree Vibez Music / Relative Music Group / WME / Maverick (Big Loud) / BMI
You have heard it from his own mouth, HARDY is “REDNECKER” than you. The hit songwriter has already made his mark on the Nashville music business having co-written multiple No. 1 hits for other artists, including “Up Down” (Morgan Wallen feat. Florida Georgia Line), “Simple” (FGL), and “God’s Country” (Blake Shelton). When it came time for the Mississippi native to dip his toes into his own artistry, the music that followed was radio ready and charmingly unique.
HARDY launched as an artist with two four-song EPs, THIS OLE BOY and WHERE TO FIND ME. Fans gravitated to swampy-party jams like “4X4” and “THROWBACK,” and were impressed with the tender songwriting of “SIGNED, SOBER YOU.” HARDY’s clever lyrical expertise paired with his bold presence made an appearance again in his 2019 collaborative album Hixtape, Vol. 1; which features duets with traditional favorites Tracy Lawrence and Joe Diffie, along with modern country singers Devin Dawson, Thomas Rhett, Jake Owen and more.
Warner Music Nashville / Play It Again Music / WME / G Major Management/Play It Again Music / BMI
Trea Landon grew up on classic music by George Strait and Alan Jackson, and from his hometown in Claxton, Georgia, he started writing songs inspired by his upbringing. His songs caught the attention of hit songwriter Dallas Davidson, who quickly signed Landon to a publishing deal. Landon then released an EP independently and with more than three million streams, joined the Warner Music Nashville label family.
Landon’s debut single is a simple, easy-listening piece of ear candy called “Loved By A Country Boy.” Have you ever felt a June like kiss? Make summer burn a little hotter / Have you ever fell faster than a Chevrolet rollin’ ‘round the bend?, left a t-shirt hanging on a hickory limb ‘fore you jumped in /Girl you ain’t been loved, ‘til you been loved by a country boy, Landon sings. His unique voice, paired with his apt song choice, make Landon stand out. Put simply, Landon is a country boy.
UMG Nashville (MCA Records) / Warner Chappell / WME / 377/Red Light Management / BMI
Road warrior and Texas native Parker McCollum began building a following with 2015’s The Limestone Kid. The then 22-year old watched a track from the album, “Meet You in The Middle,” become a hit on Texas regional radio. His follow up record, Probably Wrong, found McCollum’s success blossoming, playing to venues like San Angelo’s RiverStage and Billy Bob’s Texas.
McCollum soon found himself in Nashville, signing a record deal with Universal Music Group. His tune “I Can’t Breathe” shows off McCollum’s rich tone, and heartbreakingly honest songwriting. “Pretty Heart” is further evidence of his authentic sound. McCollum will continue his hard-won road life with select dates on Miranda Lambert’s Wildcard Tour in 2020.
Sony Music Nashville (RECORDS/Arista Nashville) / Wide Open Music / UTA / Wide Open Music / ASCAP
What do you get when you cross a college basketball star with an accepted applicant into Harvard University’s Extension School Pre-Med program? A rising country artist with a No. 1 song. Matt Stell, who made the choice to follow his passion for country music, reaped the benefits of that risk with his first country chart topper, “Prayed For You.” Since he moved to Nashville in 2014, the Arkansas native garnered a publishing deal, a recording contract, a No. 1 song and a debut performance on the Grand Ole Opry.
Stell co-wrote every track on his debut EP, Everywhere But On, including “Home In A Hometown,” which features fellow country standout and MusicRow Next Big Thing Class of 2019 artist, Jimmie Allen.
Old Sol Records / Old Sol Music / Kinkead Entertainment /Old Sol Entertainment / SESAC
Jenny Tolman is a songwriter’s songwriter. Her debut album, There Goes The Neighborhood, paints the picture of a small town, full of lifelike characters who go through heartbreak and struggle, as well as hilarious circumstances.
With songwriting influences like Roger Miller, Bobby Bare and Shel Silverstein; and sonic influences like Dolly Parton, Alicia Keys and Miranda Lambert, Tolman crafts a magical world of her own in her music. Her comical “High Class White Trash” and “Work It” show off her femininity and sass, and her “Till My Tank Is Empty” and “So Pretty” show her intense depth and skill as a communicator.
My welcome mat don’t care if you’re white or black, don’t care if you’re thin or fat, it ain’t there to judge all that / My heart is an open door, don’t care if you’re rich or poor, ain’t the world just a big front porch anyway? she sings in “My Welcome Mat.” Tolman’s music feels much like a big front porch: all-inclusive, retrospective, fun and touchingly real.
Sony Music Nashville (Columbia Nashville) / Big Yellow Dog Music / WME / ShopKeeper Management / ASCAP
Tenille Townes grew up singing along to the lyrics of U2 and Shania Twain. Before long, she was writing her own songs and taking singing lessons in her hometown of Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada. When she got a little older, Townes was coming to Nashville and learning to write songs that speak directly to the heart. Her single “Somebody’s Daughter” brought a story of compassion to country radio. Additional tracks “Jersey On The Wall” and “White Horse” set Townes apart for her wise-beyond-her-years communicator ability.
Townes was honored with the Robert K. Oermann Discovery Artist of the Year Award at the 2019 MusicRow Awards, and is seeing both critical and commercial success. In addition to her work as a musician and songwriter, Townes remains committed to her charitable initiative, Big Hearts For Big Kids, which has raised over $1.5 million to date, benefiting a youth shelter in her hometown of Grande Prairie.
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