Following the announcement of this year’s nominees for the 35th annual MusicRow Awards, we take a closer look at the Male Artist of the Year category. This category is voted on by MusicRow’s subscribers to honor outstanding achievements by a Nashville male artist during the eligibility period.
This year’s winners will be announced online on all MusicRow platforms on Tuesday, Sept. 12. Presenting Sponsor of the 2023 MusicRow Awards is City National Bank.
Winners are determined solely by MusicRow Magazine subscribers. Voting is now open and closes on Aug. 18 at 5:00 p.m.
To receive a ballot to vote in the MusicRow Awards, become a MusicRow subscriber here.
Since the arrival of his self-titled, 2x Platinum debut album in December 2016, Kane Brown has continued to expand the perception of country music and break musical boundaries. Named to the Time100 list of the most influential people in the world, five time American Music Award winner Brown has over 13 billion streams, multiple multi-Platinum certifications, sold out arenas all across the world with more than four million tickets sold internationally, and made history as the first artist ever to lead all five of Billboard’s main country charts simultaneously. With the release of his most recent album, Different Man, Brown earned his ninth career No. 1 hit , the 3x ACM-nominated Platinum-selling single, “Thank God,” as well as hits with “Like I Love Country Music,” “One Mississippi” and “Bury Me in Georgia.” Brown earned his first-ever nomination for the ACM’s Entertainer of the Year this year and became the first Black artist to headline Boston’s iconic Fenway Park solo.
Reigning two-time CMA Entertainer of the Year Luke Combs has notched 16 consecutive No. 1 hits at country radio and over 337 million global streams to date. The Grand Ole Opry member is also an eight-time CMA, three-time ACM and threetime Billboard Music Award winner. He recently topped the charts with his version of Tracy Chapman’s Grammy Award-winning song, “Fast Car,” which was certified RIAA Platinum just 16 weeks after it was released. The track is from Combs’ fourth full-length album, Gettin’ Old, following Growin’ Up, 2019’s 3-time Platinum What You See is What You Get and his 4-time Platinum debut This One’s For You. Known for his electric live shows, Combs also recently expanded his massive sold-out “World Tour,” adding four new US stadium shows due to overwhelming demand. With 44 shows across three continents and 16 countries, the record-breaking run is the largest tour ever for a country artist. Partnered with Opry Entertainment Group, Combs plans to open a massive multilevel entertainment complex in downtown Nashville during summer of 2024.
Having just notched his sixth career No. 1 single and third multi-week No. 1 with “Next Thing You Know,” Jordan Davis is dominating the country scene. “Next Thing You Know” was Davis’ third consecutive multi-week No. 1 off of his Goldcertified sophomore album, Bluebird Days. His previous two singles from Bluebird Days, “What My World Spins Around” and “Buy Dirt” ft. Luke Bryan, were 3-week and 2-week No. 1s, respectively. This year, Davis has tallied multiple awards nominations and wins, including his first ACM Male Vocalist of the Year nomination. He was a finalist for Top Country Song at the 2022 Billboard Music Awards and earned a nomination for Musical Event of the Year at the 55th CMA Awards, as well as nominations for Music Event, Single and Song of the Year at the 57th ACM Awards, and AMA Award and iHeart Award nominations. He is the reigning winner for CMA Song of Year and earned a win for NSAI Song of the Year. Davis is currently out on the road on his headlining “Damn Good Time Tour.”
One of the country’s most respected and beloved musicians, Chris Stapleton celebrated a year full of achievements this past year. He was named Entertainer of the Year at the 58th ACM Awards, resulting in a prestigious ACM Triple Crown Award, an elite honor that has been presented to only seven country acts in the history of the Academy of Country Music Awards. He also won his sixth Male Vocalist of the Year at the 2022 CMA Awards, setting the record for most wins ever in the category, and gave a rousing performance of the National Anthem at Super Bowl LVII. Currently in the midst of his extensive “All American Road Show” tour, Stapleton recently announced his new album, Higher, will release in November. The new album follows 2020’s acclaimed Starting Over, which went on to win three awards at the 67th Annual Grammys–Best Country Album, Best Country Solo Performance (“You Should Probably Leave”) and Best Country Song (“Cold”) – in addition to earning Album of the Year honors at both the CMA and ACM Awards.
In the spring of 2022, Cole Swindell released his fourth studio album, Stereotype, to massive success. The project charted three back-to-back, Platinum-certified, multi-week No. 1 hits, including “Single Saturday Night,” “Never Say Never” (with Lainey Wilson) and, most recently, his five-week chart-topper “She Had Me At Heads Carolina.” The latter garnered three ACM Awards and an iHeart Music Award for Country Song of the Year. In 2022, Swindell spent a total of 27 weeks in the Top 5 of the country singles chart with “Never Say Never” (8 weeks) and “She Had Me At Heads Carolina” (21 weeks). In the 10 years since his debut on Warner Music Nashville, Swindell has racked up an impressive 12 No. 1 singles as an artist–13 as a songwriter–as well as 12 certified Platinum singles, two Platinum-certified albums and a Gold-certified album. He is currently out on the road on Thomas Rhett’s “Home Team Tour” and will headline again this fall on his “Twelve Tour.”
With over 18 billion on-demand streams and nine chart-toppers at country radio, Morgan Wallen has had unparalleled success since his debut in 2016. His second full-length project, Dangerous: The Double Album, topped 2021’s all-genre Billboard 200 Albums year-end chart and notched historical chart status as Billboard’s longest running Top 10 album in history for a solo artist. Wallen followed the 5-time Platinum, ACM Album of the Year with 2023’s 36-song, deeply personal third studio album, One Thing At A Time, which reigned atop the all-genre Billboard 200 chart for 12 consecutive weeks, the most weeks at No. 1 for a country album in over 30 years. Wallen recently became first artist to have three singles simultaneously in the top 10 on country radio with “Last Night,” “One Thing At A Time” and “Thought You Should Know.” He is currently on his “One Night At A Time World Tour,” crisscrossing the globe and breaking attendance records in his wake.
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