MusicRow is proud to reveal its list of artists, who in 2022, are predicted to become the Next Big Thing (NBT). The annual NBT list features 11 artists, who are each profiled in MusicRow‘s latest 2022 Touring & Next Big Thing print issue, which releases today (Nov. 1).
MusicRow‘s Next Big Thing Class of 2022 boasts a stand-out group of artists on the rise. They are diverse in sound, style, and level of success, but what they have in common is extraordinary talent and a passion for today’s ever-evolving country music format. These future stars will expand the boundaries of country music, carrying the torch of the format both to its fans and into the mainstream.
MusicRow Magazine’s 2022 Next Big Thing Artists:
Warner Music Nashville | ARTIST MGMT | CAA | Reservoir (Chris Ryan) / UMPG Nashville (Logan Turner) | BMI
Rising country band Bexar is bringing a sound all their own to country music, drawing musical inspiration from Mumford & Sons, The Avett Brothers and Avicii. Their blend of country, which incorporates the pop potential of wooden instruments and organic soul, is on full display on their breakout single, “Again.” Bandmates Chris Ryan (lead vocals/ guitar) and Logan Turner (vocals/banjo/guitar) named Bexar—which is pronounced “bear”—after Bexar County, Texas, where Ryan spent much of his childhood.
The band’s recent Warner Music Nashville EP, a six-song project playfully titled Pronounced Bear, includes more stellar, genre-blending tracks such as “Key To Life” and “One Day.” Each song on the project was co-written by at least one band member, and was produced by award-winning producers Ross Copperman and Luke Laird. Bexar’s unique sound, derived from Texas country and Kentucky bluegrass, has resulted in 40 million streams since their 2018 self-released EP.
Their distinctiveness and obvious talent set them apart from their rising counterparts in the genre.
Cooped Up Records (co-owned with Victoria Shaw) | Fabulicious Music Publishing | SESAC
If there is one country artist who has mastered the TikTok launchpad to stardom, it’s undoubtedly the deep-voiced country crooner, Cooper Alan. At the beginning of quarantine, Alan had 10,000 followers across all of his social media platforms. Thanks to his social media strategy, talent and charisma, Alan is now one of the most followed country artists on TikTok, boasting over 5 million followers. He has parlayed that success into millions of streams on songs such as “New Normal,” “Tough Ones,” and “Too Soon.” Alan also collaborated with other TikTok stars to do an “In Real Life Tour,” further exemplifying his strategic use of the platform.
The North Carolina native cut his teeth as a performer in bars, honkytonks, and college parties. After graduating from UNC Chapel Hill, Alan moved to Nashville where he had the incredible luck of meeting hit songwriter/producer Victoria Shaw, who signed him to a publishing deal on the spot. Earlier this year Alan, an independent artist, announced his own Cooped Up Records, formed along with Shaw to support his music. Alan’s social media prowess and charm will assuredly propel him further into country stardom.
Big Machine Label Group (Big Machine Records) | SB Projects | WME | Big Machine Music | BMI
At just 18 years old, bold singer-songwriter Callista Clark has formed a buzz around her within the Nashville music business. Clark came onto the scene with her heart on display on her debut collection, Real To Me, released via Big Machine Records.
The soulfulness in the Georgia native’s voice shines on the song “Real To Me,” while her pension for grit is highlighted on “Change My Mind” and her breakout hit “It’s Cause I Am.” Reminiscent of the confident songs of Jo Dee Messina, Clark is fully aware of her worth on “It’s Cause I Am,” singing “You want a one-dimensional woman, it’s okay, I understand / If I seem too complicated for ya, it’s ‘cause I am.” The track resonated with listeners, becoming one of country radio’s most successful new artist debuts of 2021.
Clark was discovered by Big Machine Label Group’s Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun (SB Projects) via her inspiring videos online, which have amassed over 130 million views across all socials and YouTube. The young artist has a lot to say, and will continue to boldly lead the way for young female artists in the genre.
WME | Sony Music Publishing Nashville | ASCAP
Hannah Dasher’s big personality, and even bigger hair, paired with her classic-country style and undeniable talent sets the H to the Damn to the D apart from the rest. Raised in Savannah, Georgia, Dasher grew up absorbing a diverse lineup of influences including Alan Jackson, Hank Williams Jr., Tom Petty, Eric Church, and Aretha Franklin.
After graduating from the University of Georgia, Dasher moved into a small attic apartment just off Music Row and began working five days a week at Bass Pro Shops, where she was eventually fired for writing songs on the job. Dasher signed a publishing deal soon-after and started opening for the likes of Bocephus, The Cadillac Three and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
She garnered an online following with her viral “Stand By Your Pan” TikTok series— named after the Tammy Wynette hit—where Dasher cooks up traditional Southern recipes with a twist. Shortly after going viral on the app, she released her collection The Half Record. Containing barn-burners such as “Leave This Bar,” funny little tunes like “Left Right,” and what ought to be her theme song, “You’re Gonna Love Me,” Dasher’s kaleidoscope personality shines on The Half Record.
BBR Music Group / BMG | Maximum Artist Group | Reservoir | BMI
Shimmery singer-songwriter Brooke Eden first signed her record deal with BBR Music Group in 2014. Though she released a few singles then, including her 2017 breakout single, “Act Like You Don’t,” Eden was not able to authentically be her true self until 2021. In early 2021, Eden reintroduced herself and offered new music after four years of finding love and acceptance that inspired her music both sonically and lyrically.
In a three-part reintroduction, styled by producer Jesse Frasure, Eden said goodbye to her painful past on “No Shade,” fell in love on “Sunroof,” and professed her love to her new partner on “Got No Choice.” All the while, Eden bravely let the world know that she was gay. Eden’s courage has been lauded and celebrated by many in the country music community.
In June, Trisha Yearwood surprised Eden on-stage at the Grand Ole Opry to perform Yearwood’s “She’s In Love With The Boy.” After Eden performed the first chorus alone, Yearwood appeared and the two did a gender flip of the song, continuing their historic duet as “She’s In Love With The Girl.” It’s no question that Eden is a torch-bearer for inclusion in country music. Her talent and authenticity will irrevocably impact country music and its future.
Sony Music Nashville | The Penthouse | CAA | Warner Chappell Music Nashville | BMI
Willie Jones is on the forefront of the juncture of country and hip-hop. His catchy production paired with his country sensibilities have found fans in both genres. Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, Jones grew up singing in the church choir. He is very clearly influenced by gospel, R&B, hip-hop, and country.
Early in 2021, Jones released his debut album Right Now, containing ear-worms “Back Porch,” “Down For It,” and “Right Now,” and produced by hip-hop’s MyGuyMars and Mark Batson, as well as country songwriter/producer Justin Ebach. The project garnered millions of streams, exemplifying the demand for his signature sound. In March, Jones signed a record deal with Sony Music Nashville.
Also on Jones’ Right Now album is “American Dream,” a song inspired by the unrest in the U.S. following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Jones sings, “Proud to be a Black man livin’ in the land of the brave and the free / Yeah, I’m all-American and that American dream ain’t cheap.” Released to critical acclaim, “American Dream” illustrates Jones’ gift for packaging up deep themes in his delectable sound.
Warner Music Nashville | Not A Public Figure Management / Erv Woolsey Company | UTA | UMPG Nashville | BMI
Ian Munsick is breathing fresh Rocky Mountain air into country music. The Wyoming-born singer-songwriter’s brand of country is traditional with no shortage of fiddles, but also fresh and spellbinding. Munsick introduced himself as an independent artist in 2017 with a self-titled EP, building his fan-base with songs including “Horses Are Faster” and “Weakness.”
The determined young artist then brought a fully-formed album to Warner Music Nashville in 2020, prompting the label to sign him and release his full-length debut, Coyote Cry, this spring. Raised on a ranch playing music with his family band, Munsick cares deeply about the revitalization of modern western culture in country music. That is very evident on Coyote Cry with songs like its stomping romp about confidence called “Humble,” a Fleetwood Mac cover of “Dreams,” and a slow burner, “Come Home To You,” among other unique songs. Serving as a thesis to the project is “Long Haul,” a gorgeously lush track about Munsick’s love-affair for his home.
His unique brand of country is finding more fans on the road, as Munsick plays dates opening for label-mate Cody Johnson.
Big Loud Records / Back Blocks Music and Republic Records | Back Blocks Music / Fusion Music | WME | UMPG Nashville / Back Blocks Music | BMI
Lily Rose burst onto the country scene with her moody, striking truth-bomb “Villain” in late 2020. Soon after it went viral on TikTok and hit the top of the iTunes all genre chart, Rose secured a record deal with Big Loud Records, Back Blocks Music and Republic Records.
Rose didn’t waste much time after getting her record deal, hitting listeners with quality song after quality song, including her reflective “Overnight Sensation,” flirty “Know My Way Around,” and heavy-hearted “Remind Me of You.” Rose’s songs, colored by country-inspired confessional language and smooth R&B influence, highlights the singer-songwriter’s ability to balance shimmery uniqueness with intimate relatability. In October, the Georgia native released her album, Stronger Than I Am, which has already amassed over 87 million global streams.
Rose will take her relatable songs and charisma to the road in 2022 on Chris Lane’s “Fill Them Boots Tour.” Her knack for approachable lyrics and hooky production will surely take Rose into further country stardom.
Cohencidence Projects | UTA | BMI
Brittney Spencer graced her way into the Nashville music scene with authenticity and class. The Baltimore native went to MTSU to study music business, and earned some spots as a background singer with Christopher Cross and Carrie Underwood.
When she posted a cover of The Highwomen song “Crowded Table,” it caught the attention of members Amanda Shires and Maren Morris, who reposted the video and invited her to perform with them. Since then, Spencer has left audiences enthralled at every performance, building her fan base with her gorgeously powerful voice and thought-provoking lyrics. Her “Sober & Skinny” finds Spencer being honest with a partner, singing “when you get sober, I’ll get skinny.” Her “Sorrys Don’t Work No More” further highlights her intense depth as a songwriter.
Spencer will head out on her first headlining tour in December. She will also support Brett Eldredge and Reba McEntire on select dates in 2022, and undoubtedly earn many more new fans in her wake.
Big Machine Label Group (The Valory Music Co.) | Olivia Hanceri, OH Creative Mgmt | WME | Songs & Daughters / Big Loud / Warner Chappell | BMI
Honey-voiced singer-songwriter Tiera is bringing soulful R&B into her brand of country music. Her talent was quickly noted by the industry, and Tiera became the flagship writer for Nicolle Galyon’s Songs & Daughters publishing company. A few months later, Tiera released the romantic “Found It in You.” Fans grabbed hold, which prompted the Alabama native to independently release her self-titled debut EP.
Tiera has a full-grasp on what she wants to sound like and what she wants to say, which is evident on “Not Your Girl.” She joins harmonies with Breland, a member of MusicRow’s Next Big Thing Class of 2021, on “Miles,” a country, R&B romp. Tiera’s full command of her sound attracted Big Machine Label Group, who signed her to The Valory Music Co. in August.
In addition to making music, Tiera hosts her own Apple Music Country Radio show. On The Tiera Show, she brings her unique perspective to country, and incorporates other sounds that influence her. Tiera is in her own lane, and we will definitely be seeing more of her in 2022.
UMG Nashville (Mercury Nashville) | Missi Gallimore, T.R.U.T.H. Management | UTA | Truth or Dare / Warner Chappell Music | BMI
Not many have grown up the way Sam Williams did: as grandson of country pioneer Hank Williams and the son of outlaw legend Hank Williams Jr. While growing up in that country music dynasty has impacted Williams’ style, his music is very different from that of his father and grandfather’s.
As evidenced on his debut album, Glasshouse Children, Williams’ often profoundly country lyrics are draped in eclectic, polished production. The project offers songs about healing, growth, loss and redemption that show off Williams’ connection to country music’s roots and forward thinking approach to artistry. His sunny “Kids” invites Keith Urban to sing about wistful youth; while his reflective “Happy All The Time” features vocals from another country music icon, Dolly Parton.
In June, Williams announced he had signed a record deal with UMG’s Mercury Nashville. With the music industry deeply intrigued with his take on country music, Williams will surely be a part of the evolution of the genre.