Five new talented artists were added to the prestigious history of the CRS New Faces of Country Music showcase. Priscilla Block, Jackson Dean, Frank Ray, Jelly Roll and Nate Smith all took the stage in front of the country radio industry last night (March 15) to close out the 2023 edition of Country Radio Seminar.
The night was dedicated to Country Radio Hall of Fame member Charlie Monk, who hosted the New Faces show at least 40 times in its 50-plus year history. Throughout the evening, video tributes to Monk appeared on screens, complete with many great stories and jokes from the honorary “Mayor of Music Row.”
Ray was the first New Faces honoree to take the stage. Ray is a former police officer, Texas chart-topper, and bilingual recording artist for BBR Music Group/Stoney Creek. He entertained the audience with his radio-ready “Tequila Mockingbird,” “Somebody Else’s Whiskey” and “Y’all Showed Up.”
A stand-out from his set was his smooth “Country’d Look Good on You,” but nothing got the radio executives on their feet like his debut single “Streetlights,” which let Ray show off his roots with verses of Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee and Justin Bieber’s “Despacito” mixed in. A small mariachi horn section and salsa dancers swirling around Ray brought the audience to their feet for the night’s first standing ovation.
Next up was Big Machine Records’ Dean. The singer-songwriter invited the radio execs in the crowd into his moody and artistic world, kicking hit set off with “Wings.” Before playing his “Heavens to Betsy,” he let the crowd know that it was a songwriter’s song.
The audience was in the palm of his hand by the time he played new single, “Fearless (The Echo).” The track follows his history-making debut hit “Don’t Come Lookin’,” which Dean closed with. “Don’t Come Lookin'” was the fastest debut to reach No. 1 in 2022 and cemented Dean as the youngest solo male country artist to reach the top of the charts with a debut.
Mercury/UMG Nashville’s Block lightened the room when she emerged on stage. As usual, she was funny and charismatic, and she let the radio execs know that she was nervous to be playing for them.
She kicked things off with “My Bar” and got the crowd on their feet with “Off The Deep End.” Block brought the energy back down for a tender performance of her new song, “Me Pt. 2,” sounding awesome and sincere with every note. She followed that with her breakout hit “Just About Over You,” and tearfully thanked outgoing UMG Nashville CEO & Chairman Mike Dungan for discovering her. Dungan exited his position at the label this month and was celebrated frequently during CRS.
The next artist to take the stage was Sony Music Nashville/Arista’s Smith. The powerful singer also admitted he was nervous when he emerged on stage, but he quickly got comfortable by singing a new song, “Name Storms After.”
The crowd thoroughly enjoyed Smith’s powerful and unique voice on songs such as “Wreckage” and “Better Boy.” They were thrilled with his performance of his very first No. 1 song, “Whiskey On You.”
BBR Music Group/Stoney Creek’s Jelly Roll closed the night with a genre-bending set. The crowd instantly rose to their feet when he made his way on stage. Audience-members danced along to his rowdy “Halfway to Hell” and sang the words to his current single “Need A Favor.” Nothing thrilled the radio programmers more than his performance of his country No. 1 hit, “Son Of A Sinner.”
Brantley Gilbert and Struggle Jennings joined Jelly Roll for “Behind Bars” before he closed out Country Radio Seminar with “Save Me.”
In addition to the New Faces of Country Music showcase, several awards were given out throughout the night, including the CRS/Country Aircheck Awards.
Tracy Lawerence accepted the 2023 CRS Artist Humanitarian Award for his philanthropic efforts. Before he gave his speech, a video played that showed Lawrence’s commitment to addressing multiple aspects of homelessness with programs such as his Mission: Possible platform, which has raised over two million dollars to help fight the homelessness epidemic.
Radio programmer Brent Michaels received the 2023 Tom Rivers Humanitarian Award for his selfless public service efforts. The Tom Rivers Humanitarian Award is given at the discretion of the CRB Board of Directors to honor an individual in country radio who largely exhibits care and generosity in service to their community through hands-on action and a personal commitment of time, talent and resources.
- MusicRow’s 2024 N.B.T. Industry Directory Highlights The Next Generation Of Leaders - December 5, 2023
- MusicRow Reveals Next Big Thing Artists Class Of 2024 - December 5, 2023
- Dustin Lynch Graces The Cover Of MusicRow’s 2024 Touring & Next Big Thing Issue - December 5, 2023