As we kickoff the beginning of 2024 with snow and chilly temperatures (yes, even here in Nashville), I thought there's no better time to heat you up and get you amped about UPstar. Music's 26 Artists To Watch. Of the 26 artists featured, each artist is at a different stage of their career. Some are cashing in on record deals and will be breakout stars in 2024. Others have released their first few songs in the past few years, have great potential to make a name for themselves this coming year and will reach great heights in the near future. But there is one thing they all have in common - they are stars in the making, who have undeniable talent, at some point will be at the top of Country Music and will be blasting through your radio waves and coming to a city near you.
There is so much incredible Country Music talent here in Nashville as well as in Texas, the rest of the United States/Canada and around the entire world. In the last few years, Country Music has made leaps and bounds, becoming more relevant than ever. There are global icons like Morgan Wallen smashing records not only in Country Music, but in all-genres. There are unique and extraordinary crossovers between genres such as Luke Combs and Ed Sheeran, Morgan Wallen and Lil Durk, Kane Brown featured on songs with Khalid and Sam Fischer, and Diplo diving into Country Music projects with a variety of artists. Country Music is in a cool innovative era that is shaping the next decade and beyond. With the genre-bending and subgenres and the unlimited access to new artists and music through streaming platforms, Country Music is expanding and there's no better time to be a fan. Here is the next generation of talent you need to dive into and keep an eye out for.
As you read through the write ups on all 26 artists, you will see common themes with the artistic "recipe" and makeup of these incredible talents. Authenticity. Consistency. Tenacity. Vocal talent. Songwriting. Presence. The "IT" factor. Connection with fans. Paving their own path. These different ingredients have propelled these new coming artists in a variety of ways to be the "buzz" around the Country Music industry and beyond.
Jamie's Must Listen To Track: "Blue Collar"
Jonathan Hutcherson has been the talk around Nashville the last few years for his breathtaking talents across the board. From his soulful vocals to his relatable songwriting to his authentic vision as an artist, the Kentucky native is the full package. As he’s established himself in Nashville, Hutcherson is still an under the radar artist that is bound to be breaking into the mainstream this year. Jonathan has built up an incredible discography and has shown his consistency as an artist that will act as a steady foundation as he continues to grow. Jonathan Hutcherson is exactly what mainstream is missing... Gospel influences, Country, and Bluegrass blended with modern Pop is the perfect recipe to win over listeners across Country Music and bring some fresh air into the genre. Jonathan is already headed in the right direction as he's surpassed 80,000 monthly listeners on Spotify and his song "Love Takes Time" has been spun over 2 million times. Most of his other tracks have reached at least 100,000 streams. Hutcherson is growing his career organically, letting his authenticity be his compass and lead the way. He is not a quick flash in the pan that has short term success, more of a slow and steady grind that is letting his honest and visionary songwriting do the talking. Poised for a long and successful career, I couldn't be more excited for this young man to shine through and make a major impact in Country Music. As he's been honing in his craft and finding his sound, Hutcherson has been writing and working with some of Nashville's best songwriters such as Luke Laird, Jamie Moore, Parker Welling, Heather Morgan and Josh Jenkins, amongst others. Jonathan Hutcherson is gearing up to be a songbird of this generation in Country Music and I couldn't be more excited for the whole world to listen to the genius songwriter who takes you on a musical journey that will leave an imprint on your heart.
Jonathan Hutcherson is signed to Creative Nation (publishing/development)
Also Check Out: "Love Takes Time", "Fight" and "Makes A Man"
Jamie's Must Listen To Track: "Anyone But Me"
Matt Jordan may not be on your radar yet, but he should be moving forward. The St. Louis native has found his lane with his gravelly vocals and nostalgic lyrical content that has listeners always wanting more. The combination of his authenticity, consistency and songwriting are the perfect recipe to provide listeners with songs that are an easy listen, but also a soundtrack to your life, which flash you back to nostalgic moments growing up. As he leans on his storytelling, filled with meaningful memories, Jordan is also able to pull on your heart strings and show his deeper side with tracks like "Better Men" and "Like the Moon". Pushing over 40,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, Matt Jordan is continually showing his growth year in and year out and is relying on his sturdy foundation to continue to reach new heights. To close out an exciting 2023, Jordan released his deluxe album "The Gamble" on October 8th. What really makes Matt Jordan's sound so intriguing is his crisp blend of Country and Heartland Rock which captures his talent as a vocalist to the highest extent. Matt has showcased his high energy show as he's opened for accomplished artists such as Travis Tritt, Chris Young, Kip Moore, Granger Smith and more. With his stock on the rise, Matt has garnered attention from American Songwriter, The Boot, Rolling Stone Country, CMT, Taste of Country and more. I'm excited to see Matt Jordan's growth over the next few years. He may not be a mainstream star (which he has the potential to do), but in an era of social media, digital streaming platforms and his experience touring, Matt is an attractive pick to really stir up some buzz and take his career to the next level. One of my favorite risers that is under the radar. Matt deserves more love and may be the second coming of Bruce Springsteen.
Also Check Out: "Night on Fire", "The Good Fight" and "Better Men"
Josiah and the Bonnevilles
Jamie's Must Listen To Track: "Basic Channels"
Josiah Leming A.K.A Josiah and the Bonnevilles may be an "Artist To Watch" this year and new to many folks. His career has absolutely exploded in the last 18 months and he has finally found himself on people's radar as he has nearly 2.5 million monthly listeners on Spotify, with his songs being streamed over 90 million times in 2023. But Josiah is far from a "new" artist, and that is what makes his story so special. His tenacity and conviction intertwined with his insane talents are the reason he has crossed the threshold and has some of the biggest buzz in any genre of music. He doesn't necessarily fall into the "Country Music" category, but for me, good music is good music, period. His Folk/Alternative sound is mesmerizing. When you listen to a Josiah and the Bonnevilles song, you feel free and a wave of emotion fills your heart with appreciation of exceptional music... something that is hard to explain. You simply have to experience Josiah and the Bonnevilles for yourself. If I could describe Josiah's music, simply put, it would be poetry in motion. He is a pure storyteller who puts heart and soul into every line and verse. From a listener's point of view, Josiah has the ability to put words to emotions we are feeling but don't know how to express. And he does so through such a creative and unique lens. After multiple record deals have come and gone, the most underrated aspect of Josiah is his willingness to connect with his fans, as well as his vision and success to be sustainable without help from the music industry. From his social media content, commentary, instrumentals complimenting released tracks, to his creative Patreon, (a monetization platform which provides business tools for content creators to run a subscription service and sell digital products) the Tennessee native is clearly in music for the art and to provide meaningful content for his fans over everything else. That is the true definition of an artist. Other rising stars should study up on Josiah. He isn't just a visionary as an artist, but also a visionary to run a sustainable and effective business. At the end of October 2023, Josiah and the Bonnevilles released his highly anticipated 13 song album "Endurance", which once again solidified his remarkable talent. His recent album has added to his continual momentum headed into 2024. On top of that, Josiah's headlining tour - by the same name, spanning from the end of February to the beginning of April has almost every show sold out - from California to Texas to NYC, Boston and Toronto. He will also be playing some notable festivals such as Bonnaroo... unreal. Josiah and the Bonnevilles has become a global sensation and his success is the product of tenacity, authenticity, unwavering talent and willingness to stay creative and provide for his fans. 2024 is going to be an exciting year for this rising star.
Also Check Out: "One Last Song", "Burn" and "Kentucky Flood"
Jamie's Must Listen To Track: "Never Been Closer"
Erin Kinsey has quickly made an impact on Country Music and is setting herself up for a sustainable and successful career in Music City and beyond. Kinsey has wasted no time showcasing her charismatic energy - matching her powerhouse vocals and creative and relatable songwriting. Another very impressive skill in Erin's "toolbox" is her genuine versatility. From putting out tracks that make you want to run through a brick wall like "Never Been Closer" and "Just Drive" to being able to stop on a dime and slow it down and put out more soft and vulnerable tracks like "Always Never" and "Drunk Too". Kinsey's bread and butter is definitely her upbeat songs which as a listener makes you feel so alive and instantly feel like you are living in the moment. The words she's singing are a flashback to these relatable moments in your life. As the Texas native continues to mold her craft and prepare for the future, Erin has already proven she has what it takes to be relevant and the cream of the crop in a competitive genre filled with so many incredible artists. As she found early success and growth on Tik Tok, Kinsey started capturing listeners which has translated to streams. She has over 370,000 monthly listeners on Spotify and her viral jam "Just Drive" has amassed over 40 million. In the past few years, Kinsey has made her Grand Ole Opry debut, has toured and opened for artists such as Dylan Scott and Morgan Evans, as well as playing a handful of festivals. Erin Kinsey is off to a fast start in 2024. She's hitting the road with Restless Road on their "Last Rodeo" Tour from January all the way through the spring. A rising star that has continued to impress and build on her career, Erin Kinsey is making moves and has been the buzz around Nashville and Country Music.
Erin Kinsey is signed to RECORDS (label), Edgehill Music (publishing), CAA (booking) and Triple 8 (management)
Also Check Out: "Always Never", "Stayed A Summer" and "Just Drive"
Jamie's Must Listen To Track: "I've Been Thinking"
Brooke Lee's career path has drastically changed in the last few years. She has gone from grinding it out playing shows on Broadway for tourists to one of the hottest rising artists in 2024. The North Carolina native burst onto the Country Music scene with her debut singles "Head in the Clouds" and "Match Made in Hell" which quickly showcased her raw, genuine talent and a powerful voice that instantly grabs your attention. Nashville is filled with crazy talented young artists, but many are still discovering who they are as an artist and finding their lane. Brooke ended 2023 with a bang when she released her debut 6-song EP "I've Been Thinking". A true look at who she is as a creative. Impressively, at this early stage in her career, it’s evident that Brooke knows her sound and what she is trying to accomplish in Country Music. She has shown a crystal clear vision for who she wants to be as an artist and the path she is creating for herself. When a young hungry artist has tenacity and conviction like Brooke, blended with a beautiful soul and unwavering talent, that is a recipe for success and the start to a long successful career. Lee's incredible mix of Country and Classic Rock influences combined with her own spin is straight magic that will have you mesmerized. The stars are aligning for Brooke Lee. She has created a sound and is writing songs that are separating her in a competitive town. The batch of songs she has released to the world is proving time and time again why she belongs at the top of the next generation of Country Music stars. After opening for Willie Nelson and Niko Moon, as well as playing CCMF in 2023, Brooke Lee looks to ramp it up on the road in 2024 as she opens for Chase Rice and Conner Smith for a few dates and more shows that will be coming in the future. 2023 was the year Brooke Lee broke out and was introduced to many Country Music fans. 2024 is the year she takes her career to the next level. I'm excited to see what Brooke's career has in store moving forward.
Brooke Lee is signed to Spirit Music Nashville (publishing), CAA (booking), Kara Jackson (management), 2 Mix Music (artist development)
Also Check Out: "Head in the Clouds", "Praying in Bars" and "Match Made in Hell"
Jamie's Must Listen To Track: "Merigold"
Gabe Lee is the real deal. Gabe is far from being a new artist on the block and is one of the most underrated artists in ALL of Country Music. It just felt right to show Gabe the love he deserves in this year's "Artists To Watch" and to highlight what an incredibly talented artist he is. Without a doubt, he needs to be on your radar. A gifted storyteller that is the pure definition of an artist. He brings words and ideas to life and brings them together in such a real and beautiful way. Gabe Lee is the kind of artist that wins you over immediately with his raw, real and authentic approach to artistry; not over produced, not lacking substance and not making music based on what's "popular”. He stays true to his roots and paves his own path in the music industry. Gabe writes and sings from the heart and pours every ounce of his emotions into each line and verse and makes you proud as a listener to be a music fan. Gabe shows his genius as he miraculously blends Country, Rock and Folk sounds and intertwines it with his awestruck vocals and authenticity to produce a masterpiece with every single song and album he releases. The genre-bending artist lives by his own rules and can't be put into a box, which makes him well respected by his fans and those who appreciate pure art. The Tennessee native has released an impressive collection of albums including 2019's farmland, 2020's Honky Tonk Hell, 2022's The Hometown Kid and his fourth record, released in 2023, Drink the River. From start to finish, Lee showcases his impressive consistency and high standards of releasing heartfelt songs that will make you feel every emotion and make you tap into a fulfilling listening experience. Closing in on 100,000 monthly listeners, Gabe Lee has made a lasting impression on music fans across the world. He is continuing to grow a solid foundation beneath him to support a career that will be sustainable for years to come. His music is timeless and masterpieces that need to be studied by songwriters who are on the come up. Another stellar year in 2023 for Gabe Lee as he racked up the accomplishments including his Grand Ole Opry debut, Saving Country Music Album of the Year, Song of the Year Nominee, Outstanding and Essential Albums of 2023 (WMOT Roots Radio), Holler. Album of the Year, Rolling Stone - The best 25 Country and Americana Albums, Whiskey Riff - Top Country Albums 2023, Barack Obama's Favorite Songs (2023) and more. On top of his incredible talent, Lee has made his way touring and playing shows across the country, opening for Luke Combs, Kip Moore, Jason Isbell, American Aquarium and Muscadine Bloodline, to name a few. He has also played countless festivals. For Gabe Lee, this was less of an introduction to a new artist and more of a "this is a guy you HAVE to be listening to". As his major influences are John Prine and Bob Dylan, Gabe may be mentioned in the same breath as these legends when his career is all set and done.
Gabe Lee is signed to Torrez Music Group (label/management)
Also Check Out: "Drink The River", "Wide Open" and "Heartbreaker's Smile"
Jamie's Must Listen To Track: "Work To Do"
Walker Montgomery has Country Music running through his veins...literally. The son of John Michael Montgomery and the nephew of Montgomery Gentry's Eddie Montgomery, the rising star is out to pave his own path and is making moves quickly to cement his own legacy. The Kentucky native is bringing back that nostalgic 90's sound and has it absolutely dialed in. He has the fiddle, he's got the steel and he's got that deep powerful voice that pulls you in and keeps you sticking around. Walker takes a song and runs with it, getting the most out of the lyrics and turning each song into a beautiful masterpiece full of imagery and emotion. An underrated aspect of Walker's arsenal is his ear for a good song that fits his vision as an artist. If he's not writing for himself, Montgomery does an impressive job cutting outside songs and picking tracks that not only fit who he is as an artist and his sound, but does a beautiful job of making each song as polished and complete as it can be. Walker Montgomery is as pure and seasoned as any rising artist in the game. His numbers also back up the artist's climb as he has over 90,000 monthly listeners and 5 songs that have surpassed a million streams. 2023 was filled with big moments for the artist as his lifelong dream came true when he made his Grand Ole Opry debut. He also released his EP "Work To Do" that showcases his charisma and 90's Country influences. 2024 is already off to an exciting start for Walker as he announced his "PBR Bar" Tour which will take place in the Spring in 7 cities across the country. Walker Montgomery is as consistent as they come. If you need some more Traditional Country Music in your life, this is your guy.
Walker Montgomery is signed to Play It Again (publishing) and CAA (booking)
Also Check Out: "Time Stood Still", "Things That Break My Heart" and "Tired of You"
Jamie's Must Listen To Track: "Sell This Truck"
Clayton Mullen is quickly making moves in Nashville and around Country Music. The TCU grad made quick work growing his fanbase and displaying his honest music that is filled with so much passion, as he released his 11-song album "Where the Time Goes" which has turned heads and created buzz in Nashville. His debut album has amassed over 10 million streams collectively and doesn't show signs of slowing down. Mullen's soothing sincere vocals are mixed with creative lyrics that cut deep and have a sense of relatability that many songs out there are missing. Clayton does an exceptional job of writing songs filled with substance and matching it with production that helps paint the perfect picture allowing the lyrical content to shine. In a world full of overproduced songs, Mullen lets his talent do the talking with the perfect combination of raw and stripped down with new age production. That highlights Clayton's influences and steps into the mainstream world while still being authentic and true to himself. This is a major reason why Clayton will not only continue to have a dedicated fanbase, but will be able to make waves and take his music to the next level - creating new fans around the country and the world. The young rising star has gained valuable show experience as he's opened for respected Country Music acts such as Chris Lane, Corey Kent, Warren Zeiders, Randall King, Adam Doleac, and the Josh Abbott Band. Mullen is starting his 2024 off right as he will hit the road as a part of Warren Zeiders "Pretty Little Poison" Tour throughout February. He will also be performing at TEXFest 2024 and Fort Worth Music Festival amongst other dates. Clayton Mullen's stock has been on the rise. He has all the tools to find success in Country Music so stay tuned.
Clayton Mullen is signed to Concord Music (publishing), CAA (booking) and What's Good Projects (management)
Also Check Out: "Rainin' in Dallas", "Whiskey On It" and "South of Forever"
Jamie's Must Listen To Track: "Speed Limit 35"
Old Hickory has been making noise around Nashville and Country Music as one of the hottest rising acts in Music City. As this trio of friends is fresh on the scene working together as artists, these fellas are far from new faces in the Country Music industry. Old Hickory has combined the talents of Dan Alley, Andy Austin and Timothy Baker to bring listeners some pure and electric Traditional Country Music. As mainstream Country Music is finally coming back around to the true Traditional Country Music sound, artists like Cody Johnson, Jon Pardi, Lainey Wilson, Jake Worthington, Randall King, Mae Estes, Zach Top and others have led the charge to bring back the "good stuff". Old Hickory is right in the middle of the mix, bringing back what modern country fans have been missing for over a decade. Individually, Dan, Andy and Timothy have earned respect around Nashville for their honest songwriting, incredible vocal talent and staying true to their roots. Now they have combined their talents - like the 2010 Miami Heat with Lebron, D-Wade & Bosh. For some, this comparison probably came from left field and some may not even watch the NBA, but when three of these guys joined forces they took over the league and I firmly believe Old Hickory can be the new star attraction in Country Music and catapult to the top of the mountain with their music and talent oozing the "IT Factor" and authenticity. Old Hickory released their debut album "Tuesday Nights at Scoreboard" in September of 2023, which was the first glance of the endless potential these guys have. Soothing harmonies, honest and relatable Country songs that will have you Boot Scootin' at the local honky-tonk. Old Hickory makes Country Music feel so good and effortless and will have you reminiscing about the 90's. Each line, each verse, their catchy chorus' you can't get out of your head is like a time machine that takes you back 30 years. What jumps off the page to me is the trio's chemistry. And from a listeners standpoint, their focus is on authenticity; putting out songs they want to put out and sounding the way they want to sound with no willingness to "fit the Nashville mold". It's more like the Nashville mold will find a way to fit them because in the next few years these guys are on a fast track to success. In 2024, Old Hickory will hit the road on Dylan Marlowe's "Dirt Road When I Die" Tour, so make sure you catch a show if they come to a city near you. This trio may be Nashville's "best kept secret" so jump on the bandwagon now.
Old Hickory is signed to RiverHouse Artists (label)
Also Check Out: "Lookin' at Her", "Listen to Hank" and "Still Doin' Time"