As 2021 comes to a close, we jump ahead to artists we think are going to make big moves in 2022. A big part of what we focus on at UPstar. Music is artist development and the growth for artists over the course of a few years. That is one thing I think makes UPstar. Music's "Artists to Watch" both unique and special. Of the 26 artists featured, everyone is at different stages of their career; some are cashing in on record deals and will be breakout stars in 2022. Others have released their first songs in 2021 and have great potential to make a name for themselves this coming year and reach great heights in the near future. All of these individuals are at different stages in their career and there is one thing they all have in common - these are stars in the making who have undeniable talent and at some point all will be at the top of Country Music. Give it a few years... these are the stars of tomorrow. Here is our second volume for the class of 2022.
Making it in the Country Music industry is more than just being able to sing. A lot of people have a damn good voice, but lack their own style and authenticity. Brett Sheroky is bursting onto the scene with his free flowing voice and a fun, unique style that is grabbing everyone's attention. If you look up "hard work and dedication" in the dictionary you will probably see a picture of Brett. He's been making a name for himself in Nashville for years and is finally getting the recognition he deserves. In addition to his artist career, this year Brett was casually a writer on Blake Shelton's "Bible Verses"... what a machine. By listening to the lyrics in his songs, you can tell Brett is a true professional who's doing what he loves. He tells true stories and brings experiences to life with a pen that is as good as anyone in Music City. "4 Goodyears" and "Good Thing Going" are two of Brett's songs that showcase his mesmerizing storytelling. There is no doubt he makes these songs his own and releases ones that are meaningful for him, not just fabricated songs for the radio. Excited for the world and Country Music to get to know the name Brett Sheroky.
If you want to talk about an artist that has found his sound and is absolutely rolling, you have to talk about the name Jeb Gipson. A nice blend of Pop, Country, and a sprinkle of some
R&B, Jeb is winning hearts all across the genre by his "cool as the other side of the pillow" lyrics and majestic voice. I can already see it...#1 songs, opening on a major tour, headlining shows, Jeb Gipson is going to be making some major moves sooner rather than later and it won't surprise me in the least. And if you thought the dude could sing, he can also write a damn good song, as he has cuts with Jenna Paulette, Jordan Rager and Chris Colston, amongst others. 2021 has already served as a big year for Jeb and 2022 is going to be even bigger for the man with the most vibrant songs in all of Country Music.
I've been high on Reid Haughton since he released his debut single "Make You Mine" back in 2018. Even then, his just natural ability to put together a country song from the songwriting to his "good ole country boy" sound was evident. Even then I saw great success in his future. In one of my first articles ever, close to 2 years ago, I featured Reid's single "Ain't Close to Anywhere" and said he had the potential to become one of the biggest names in Country Music. I believed he had the chance to become one of the next Luke Combs' and I still think that holds true two years later. Reid has a certain superstar presence with a humble and hard working mentality that's going to take him far. As Reid starts to settle into Music City and gets to focus solely on music, his high ceiling is just getting higher. He is in for an electric next few years.
Without a doubt, one of the sweetest humans I have ever met and that shows through the passion in her music. Morgan Johnston has the sound, the confidence and that superstar aura that will have her on the biggest stages in Country Music in the next few years. It's been a common trend that most of the "Artists to Watch" not only have a spectacular voice, but are also writing top tier songs for themselves and others. Morgan fits this profile, as she has written her own songs but also has cuts with Noah West, Halle Kearns, SixForty1, Kelsey Lamb and Hasting and Co. Morgan shows versatility with her ability to share painful heartbreak in her song "Just in Case" and bounce back with an upbeat, catchy "moving on" jam with "Pity Party". The female artists on the rise in Country Music all come in ready to make big waves and Morgan Johnston is surfing on top of those waves, ready to be "up next".
With the amount of music from “up and comers” that I'm exposed to on a daily basis, it's very hard to "wow" me and make me stop on a dime. The first time I heard Mason Horne's "Lonely Peace", not only was it a new artist I’d found for my own listening pleasure, but also an artist that would soon take over the radio waves and find his way into many new hearts and truck speakers. In August he released one of my favorite songs of the year in "The Only Thing" and golly does this young gun have a bright future in the genre. Horne is already paving his own path to success. Mason brings a flair to the Traditional Country sound that shows a similar swag and confidence to Morgan Wallen. His songs attract any music lover who knows what a good song is. A man of his craft who is wise beyond his years, he’s a safe bet to follow early on, before he takes over the genre and blows up.
(w/ Chase Matthew)
Leah Marie Mason
You have "Fancy Like" by Walker Hayes, "Dicked Down in Dallas" by Trey Lewis and... you guessed it …"Far Boy" by Leah Marie Mason as a couple of the most viral songs of 2021. After her song "Far Boy" blew up on Tik Tok, Leah quickly was given the sign to pursue a music career and so far she has found a home in Country Music. After her viral heart felt jam, Leah followed with other songs such as "I Wish", "Hannah" and her latest single "Miss Us Then". She has showcased herself as more than just a "Tik Tok Artist" and is providing evidence she has what it takes to make it to the top of Country Music. Her Pop Country sound fits perfectly with the new wave of Country Music and her songs will be on the radio soon. Excited to see Leah continue her great success and to see what's next for the young star.
There are only two words that can describe SJ McDonald accurately... BAD. ASS. This lady isn't here for fun and games, she's here to take over Country Music (with or without her social media being hacked). SJ is one of the wittiest up and coming songwriters around. Combine that with her breathtaking voice, it's magic to your ears. SJ is an artist and songwriter who isn't afraid to touch on tough topics such as domestic abuse, with her single "Rouge" with Brittany Moore to "Hot Damn" that shows off her sass and fierce confidence. The last few years have been a welcome party for SJ McDonald, as many have discovered her potential and 2022 is her year to show the entire industry what she's made of. Excited for SJ McDonald's future.
There ain't nothing better than some good Texas Country. Cody Hibbard has been on the radar for folks down in Texas and it's only a matter of time before the entire Country Music community jumps on the Cody Hibbard train. I quickly fell in love with his raw, genuine approach, where his talent shines. One thing that impresses me the most about Cody is his consistency to release top tier songs without ever putting out a subpar song. Top to bottom, I will put Cody's catalog up against any rising talent. That's how good he is. Listeners are finally catching on to this Texan. For those who just want real Traditional Country without the mainstream sound and tracks in the background, Hibbard is the man to take a listen to. In the next few years, Cody Hibbard will take over the scene in Texas and the rest of the country.
Maggie Baugh is "fresh" off her song "Think About You" being the #1 streamed song on Spotify's "Fresh Finds Country" playlist. What a great way to get the momentum rolling for 2022! A common theme this year has been the incredible talent from the rising female artists in Country Music and Maggie is another reason why it runs so deep. Her ability to make time stop when she sings and make you listen to each line and verse is special. 2021 was the "calm before the storm" for Maggie Baugh and I truly believe 2022 will be a record breaking year for Maggie. It will set her up for even greater success in the coming years. Add the name Maggie Baugh to your list of artists to put on your radar.