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UPstar. Music's 26 Artists To Watch in 2024 Vol. III

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.

Peytan Porter

Jamie's Must Listen To Track: "God's Hotel"

Peytan Porter is as solid a rising artist as there is in all of Country Music. The Georgia native is becoming the heart and soul behind the genre. Her unique storytelling, blended with a production that lets her authenticity shine with her influences sprinkled in, gives you a glance at her vision as an artist. Peytan is building her career on consistency and hard work as she has crafted some of the wittiest and most interesting songs in this generation of new talent. On the surface, her titles can seem basic and straightforward, like "God's Hotel", "First Stone'' and "Lemonade" but when you dive into her groovy, heartfelt songs you unlock a captivating listening experience where Porter's top tier, "outside the box" songwriting is showcased and soothes you with her impressive and charming vocals. Listeners are loving Peytan's simple yet sophisticated songs that are pleasing to the ear and take on a life of their own. Nearing 90,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, Porter's stock is rapidly growing and Country Music fans are seeing her "Swiss Army knife" skill set; her writing and vocals and sincerity are winning over hearts of the entire genre. What started as gaining traction on Tik Tok and social media has blossomed into a music career that will last for a long time. In 2024, Porter will be joining Tim McGraw on his "Standing Room Only" Tour, and Ian Munsick on his "Boots, Buckles & Bolos'' Tour. She will also be playing Tortuga Music festival, as well as more shows throughout the year. Make sure you get out and see the rising star! Peytan Porter is a special talent who lets you escape reality every time you spin one of her songs. Excited to see her career unfold. 

Peytan Porter is signed to Jody Williams Songs and Warner Chappell (publishing), CAA (booking), Red Light Management (management)

Also Check Out: "First Stone", "Therapy" and "Lemonade"

Josh Ross

Jamie's Must Listen To Track: "Trouble"

Josh Ross may be one of the most notable "Artists To Watch" in the class of 2024 as his career has exploded in 2023. He has found mainstream success with his soothing vocals, catchy lyrics and incredible consistency producing hit after hit. Josh has found his lane and has been able to showcase his authenticity at the highest level. His versatility has also been a useful part of his arsenal as he can hit you with deep relatable tracks about situationships and heartbreak with "Trouble" and "Red Flags", can kick down your door and bring the energy with "Ain't Doin' Jack" and can even hit you with a summertime anthem with "Tall Boys". Josh Ross has continued to captivate audiences around the world with over 3.5 million monthly listeners, 179 million global streams. He has the ability to pick and release tracks that continue to get rave reviews and have fans buying in more and more. As mainstream Country Music is shifting toward Traditional and Rock, Josh's Pop Country sound with Rock influences fused in isn't going anywhere. He has done an exceptional job of blending his originality with his influences to create a unique sound that really highlights his songwriting and vocal talent and is dialed in to continuing his success that continues to climb. Josh Ross's career took off in 2023. He made his Grand Ole Opry debut, was one of Spotify’s Hot Country Artists To Watch, was nominated for 6 awards at the CCMA's, a #1 on Sirius XM's The Highway Hot 30 Weekend Countdown with his hit "Trouble" and made waves and showcased his immense talent on Nickleback's "Get Rollin" Tour this past summer. 2023 for many, was the introduction to Josh Ross and the talent he brings to the table. 2024 is the year he goes to yet another level and solidifies himself as one of the top rising artists in all of Country Music. Josh has a busy 2024 on the road as he will join Bailey Zimmerman on his "Religiously" Tour that kicks off in February and spans most of the first half of the year. He will also join Luke Bryan on his "Mind of a Country Boy" Tour this summer as well as a handful of festivals. Josh Ross continues to impress and establish himself in Music City. It's been incredible to watch his journey and career develop. A rising star - you want to jump on his bandwagon because Ross’ stock is rising and is going to the moon!

Josh Ross is signed to Universal Canada partnered with Universal Nashville (label), Warner Chappell (publishing) and The Core Entertainment (management)

Also Check Out: "Ain't Doin' Jack", "Red Flags" and "First Taste of Gone"


Jamie's Must Listen To Track: "Break a Broken Heart"

SaraLisa may be one of the more “under the radar” artists on this year's "Artist To Watch". But this young gun has an endless ceiling for success with her skill set and possesses the "IT factor" you can't teach. When listening to this rising star, her powerhouse vocals grab your attention and she keeps you around with catchy melodies and relatable lyrics that paint a beautiful picture filled with grit and emotion. I often say how important it is for rising independent artists to build a solid foundation filled with molding their craft and dialing in on their sound and avoiding being a "quick success" or "flash in the pan". Another crucial reason I truly believe in SaraLisa - I have the conviction for her to be successful in Country Music- is her tenacity at a young age and the way she's built her career the right way and developed a strong footing. She's got the well written songs, she's got the voice, she's got the "IT factor", she's got the streams and is steadily building her social media following (268.3K followers on Tik Tok) and over 87,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. In my eyes, that's a recipe to be successful. Since she released her debut single "Knockoff"  in February of 2022, SaraLisa has released a handful of songs and continues to impress again and again with commanding vocals and the right amount of attitude. I already see hints of Miranda Lambert's star power and vocal talent in just two years of releasing music. SaraLisa really showcases her talent and vision for the future with her hit song "Break a Broken Heart" which has surpassed 14 million combined streams on Spotify and is still climbing. A natural born storyteller, she’s a songwriter through and through. As Traditional Country Music is finding its way back into the mainstream, SaraLisa is an artist to watch who will really find her groove in the coming years and be the face of the next generation of talent. She's got the confidence and the undeniable talent to be touring around the country for years. Give her some time, but she will explode onto the scene sooner rather than later. 

Also Check Out: "Good Girl For A Good Time", "Callin' All Cowboys" and "Good In Orange"

Matt Schuster

Jamie's Must Listen To Track: "Tell Me Tennessee"

Matt Schuster is reinventing Country Music with his raw emotion and exuberant energy. His ability to connect with his fans and deliver tracks filled with substance and a fulfilling listening experience has captivated fans and has them wondering what's coming next. From gaining considerable traction on social media (603.8K on Tik Tok and 129K on Instagram) Schuster has translated his fans on social media into streams with an impressive 2.2 million monthly listeners on Spotify. He has been crushing streaming numbers with 7 songs over 1 million streams and 6 songs over 10 million streams on Spotify alone. Very, very impressive numbers for a rising star who's only been releasing songs since the tail end of 2021. As numbers aren't everything, they do show if artists are truly resonating with music listeners and it's safe to say fans are going crazy for Matt Schuster and his tracks. From putting his own flavor and spin on popular covers like "Ophelia", "Vienna" and "Outskirts of Heaven", to showcasing his witty creative songwriting and intertwining his golden pen with a once in a generation voice. Matt’s unique vocal talent, along with his raw emotion makes each line and verse he sings hit you in the gut . As a listener you can't help but root for a guy putting 110% into his music. Any star on Tik Tok can sing and cover popular songs and get a reaction. But Schuster has proven he has more to offer, as he's won people over with songs coming from his own creative prowess - with anthems like "Tell Me Tennessee", "Haunted House", "Wasted Prayers" and many more. I always preach how important it is to build a career on consistency with solid songs that align with an artist's sound and highlight the special and unique abilities an artist possesses. Matt has strategically and wisely done so to the highest extent. He has been pulling in new audiences, developing a true connection with fans and music listeners on social media, captivating covers that pull in new audiences to your music and then laying down the hammer with originals that keep listeners around and wanting more. That's a winning recipe to me and a big reason why Matt Schuster will have an effective and sustainable career in Country Music. Not only has he busted onto the Country Music scene as an artist, he is also becoming a songwriter to watch. Not only does Matt write for himself, but he also has a cut on Bailey Zimmerman's successful debut album "Religiously" as he penned "Chase Her" and has written songs for other artists as well. The Illinois native has gained valuable experience touring in the last year or two. He has joined acts like Brantley Gilbert, Kameron Marlowe, Dylan Scott and Ashley Cooke on the road, bolstering his resume. Matt Schuster is a clear cut choice as an artist that needs to be on your radar - if he isn't already. From highlighting Spotify's "2024 Hot Country Artists to Watch" to being named an Artists To Watch by just about every media and news outlet, this young gun is making a name for himself.

Matt Schuster is signed to Warner Music Nashville (label), Universal MusicPublishing Group (publishing), WME (booking), Extended Play (management)

Also Check Out: "Wasted Prayers", "Last Fall" and "Haunted House"


Jamie's Must Listen To Track: "Do It Right The First Time"

Shaylen is a ray of sunshine that has burst onto the Country Music scene and immediately had an impact. In a melting pot of a genre, the rising star traded in a career as a major label Pop artist to follow her heart and roots in Country Music. She switched paths and risked it all, but it's already paying off. Shaylen has created major buzz in Music City for her infectious energy, powerhouse vocals and crafty storytelling that has listeners wanting to hear more. Closing in on 800,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, fans are resonating with Shaylen's honest and relatable songwriting and tracks that blend her many influences to show her true authentic sound. Her consistency and selection of releases has laid out a blueprint for success in her first few years releasing Country Music. It is an impressive start for shifting genres and has been welcomed with open arms in Nashville. Her talent is undeniable and the "IT factor" shines regardless of what kind of music she's releasing. One of Shaylen's most impressive qualities is her ability to bring a story to life. A vocalist who can turn heads, but matches that talent with true genuine ability to write songs that are heartfelt and shake your bones. With the true understanding of who she is as an artist and her vision for her sound, she brings her vocal and writing talent and brings it all together with beautiful production to help capture each song that paints a true masterpiece. With heartfelt emotion that pulls on your heartstrings with songs like "Do It Right The First Time'' and "Been There Before", Shaylen can quickly shift the mood and show her sassy confident side with the hit "Closest Thing to Closure". Anytime an artist can't be put into a box and has the ability to authentically showcase emotions all over the spectrum and connect with listeners, that's a true tell tale of how special an artist is. It is clearly visible in her artistry, what makes Shaylen so unique and original is her influences and experiences. From being born in Chattanooga, TN, being raised in Dallas, TX, spending 10 years in LA to now living in Nashville, Shaylen has used her life to shape her musical vision. She shows her truest form with every song she has released since pursuing her Country Music career. It brought a fresh sound and feel to a genre that can get stagnant with new sounds and talent. Shaylen is quickly leaving a footprint in Country Music as she headlined her own tour, opened for Luke Combs and Billy Currington and remade  "Lips of an Angel", a Hinder classic with Austin John Winkler. A sweet soul, and I couldn't be more excited for what her future holds. Shaylen has all the tools, has the vision and has the "IT factor" to become one of Country Music's top talents.

Shaylen is signed to CAA (booking)

Also Check Out: "Closest Thing To Closure", "Lips Of An Angel" with Austin John Winkler and "Been There Before"

Zach Top

Jamie's Must Listen To Track: "Sounds Like The Radio"

Zach Top is wasting no time in being the face of the new wave of Neotraditional Country music that is making its way back into the mainstream of the genre and injecting itself into the veins of fans and listeners around the country and world. For the last decade or so, Country Music mainstream was controlled by Pop Country, but in the last few years it's slowly shifted back to Traditional. In the last year, it's exploded and a big reason for that is the emergence of Zach Top. If there was one word to sum up Zach Top, it would simply be ELECTRIC. From the steel guitars to the fiddle, the production is immaculate and brings Top's songs to an elite level that make you want to head over to the local honky-tonk and throw Mr. Top on the jukebox and dance all night long. As the production may elevate the rising artist, it wouldn't be complete without Zach's charming and commanding vocals that feel like a flashback to peak 90's Country Music. Even this early in his career, I can say with conviction that Zach Top will have the same amount of influence as Alan Jackson on the genre when we look back when his career is all set and done. He's as pure Traditional Country Music as anyone in the genre right now, but his sound and charisma are also appealing to mainstream listeners as he just oozes with the "IT factor" and an incredible amount of moxie. Over the last decade, there have been several Traditional artists who have sustained a career in the world of Pop Country. With tides turning, Top's career is exploding at the perfect time. One of the faces of Country Music in the next 5 years? I. Think. So. From cutting his teeth in several Bluegrass bands to moving to Nashville to take a crack at his dream of being a Country Music artist, the Washington native is cashing in on his dream. The industry is watching and fans and listeners are buzzing. He has over 630,000 monthly listeners on Spotify and is reviving the "good stuff" with nostalgic tracks like "Sounds Like the Radio"-  which was the #1 most added song on radio upon release - and "Justa Jonesin'"  Top has surpassed a million streams with a handful of songs on Spotify alone. Zach Top is in for a hectic 2024 on the road. He will join Dierks Bentley, Brothers Osborne, Flatland Cavalry and Luke Bryan on their respective tours, play some of his own headlining shows, along with festivals sprinkled in. There is no excuse not to watch the magic unfold live. Zach is on a mission... to revive the greatest era of Country Music one jukebox jammin', honky-tonkin' song at a time. Making the legends proud and it's only a matter of time before Zach is on "top" of Country Music... I had to... it was right there.

Zach Top is signed to Leo33 (label), Major Bob Music (publishing), WME (booking), Bob Doyle & Associates (management)

Also Check Out: "Justa Jonesin'", "There's The Sun" and "The Kinda Woman I Like"

Tanner Usrey

Jamie's Must Listen To Track: "Beautiful Lies" with Ella Langley

There is so much incredible talent in Country Music. It is as competitive and saturated as it's ever been and I can honestly say nobody sings with more heart and soul than Tanner Usrey. By listening to any one of his tracks, you can feel his passion for making music in every word he sings. You can feel it deep in your bones and he's able to win you over with his thoughtfully crafted songs, with simple yet sophisticated production and an attention grabbing voice that has you so locked in and focused on the words he's belting out. The Texas native is creating his own shade of Country Music with hints of Rock and Roll, Country, Southern Rock and Americana. Tanner fuses them together in perfect harmony, generating a sound listeners are going crazy for. The numbers can do the talking as Usrey is closing in on close to 1 million monthly listeners on Spotify alone, which in itself is a huge milestone. But he matches that with songs that have over 35 million streams (Come Back Down), 34 million streams (Beautiful Lies), 18 million streams (Take Me Home) and a handful of others with over 1 million streams. One of my favorite things about Tanner Usrey and his music is the honest storytelling. A person can feel the sincerity in his songs, not overproduced, not lyrics created for flash instead of substance. It's real, it's raw and exactly what music should be. Listeners have really responded to the rising star's latest album "Crossing Lines" which has helped skyrocket his music into the mainstream and has caught so much life and attention. This album truly showcases Usrey's impeccable talent all around from songwriting, vocal talent and his vision as an artist. The Texan ain't slowing down as he will headline his own "The Crossing Lines Tour" with over 40 shows from January through March. In addition, he will play dates with Dierks Bentley on his "Gravel & Gold" tour this summer and will be playing an array of festivals. Usrey is also playing across the pond in May with Shane Smith & The Saints. He's not flashy, he's not all in your face, but Tanner Usrey is as solid as they come in Country Music. He’s creating his own sound and has built a living off truthful, relatable songs fans crave. Tanner Ursey - a rising star behind the scenes who’s worked his ass off, but is now cashing in on all his hard work and getting the attention he deserves.

Tanner Usrey is signed to Atlantic Records (label), WME (booking), C3 (management)

Also Check Out: "Crossing Lines", "Who I Am" and "Give It Some Time"

Lauren Watkins

Jamie's Must Listen To Track: "Camel Blues"

Lauren Watkins is the full package. A true songsmith that paints a masterpiece with her pen, a gravely smooth voice filled with passion and a charisma about her that's unmatched. Lauren broke onto the Country Music scene with her batch of songs "Introducing: Lauren Watkins'' that has had Music City and fans across the country buzzing with her fresh sound of Traditional Country Music that has undertones of some blues and soul. It's clear that Watkins has a firm grip of who she is as an artist and is strategically showing the Country Music world her genius in her branding and her songs. Lauren's discography is a masterclass in songwriting of intricate, fascinating stories and "outside the box" perspectives that will blow your mind over and over again. Catchy melodies and refreshing production is just icing on the cake for a rising artist that has all the tools to be a superstar in Country Music for years to come. Lauren Watkins is being assisted and helped in molding her rare talent with some of Country Music's best and brightest as she is signed to Big Loud who have played a role in the careers of Morgan Wallen, HARDY and Ernest amongst others. If that wasn't enough, she is also signed to Songs & Daughters - headed by one of Country Music's most badass and elite songwriters Nicolle Galyon who has written hits for Dierks Bentley, Blake Shelton, Dan + Shay, Keith Urban and just about any other star you can think of. To top things off, Watkins is being produced by probably the greatest producer of all-time, Joey Moi. who has constructed projects for Nickleback, FGL, Morgan Wallen, HARDY and more. At the end of the day, no matter who is working alongside Lauren Watkins, it doesn't take away from the rare talent and true "IT factor" she carries which mesmerizes you when you hear her voice. When you combine her "once in a lifetime" talent with the all-star team she is working with, it is a true recipe for success that will be sustainable for the foreseeable future. 2023 wound up being a massive year and beginning to Lauren Watkins' career as she released two EP's and is closing in on 1 million monthly listeners on Spotify. She opened for Lily Rose and Austin Snell and played festivals. Her song "Anybody But You" was 2 weeks at #1 on SiriusXM The Highway "Hot 30 Weekend" countdown. Lauren Watkins hasn't slowed down as she's already off to a hot start in 2024. She has been named one of Spotify's "Hot Country Artists To Watch" alongside other rising phenoms like Sam Barber and Matt Schuster. and will be opening on dates for Morgan Wallen's "One Night At A Time" Tour. A Nashville native, Watkins grew up idolizing Country Music and its biggest stars like Alan Jackson, Sheryl Crow and Eric Church. She now gets to carve out her own story in the Country Music history books and have her name next to these legends. Lauren Watkins is the real deal.

Lauren Watkins is signed to Big Loud x Songs & Daughters (label), Big Loud (publishing), The Neal Agency (booking), Big Loud (management)

Also Check Out: "Stuck In My Ways", "Fly On The Wall" and "Sleeping In My Makeup"



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