We’ve pooled our resources and combed the corners of Internet to bring you our top picks for the upcoming year in music. Some are edgy and modern, some are classic and traditional, but we’re confident that 2016 will be a breakout year for all. Check out our mini-profiles and give these artists a listen, so you can say “I knew them when…”
This Georgia native, like many other country artists, left a football career to pursue a life of music. He has plenty of fans around the country, plays shows, and is working on his song writing craft, Langston is definitely one to follow in 2016.
Sounds like: Chase Rice with a touch of Brantley Gilbert
You might know him from: His opening gigs with Chase Rice or Corey Smith.
Look out for: His self-titled EP, out now on iTunes.
Listen to: “Showtime” & “Rollin In, Rockin Out”
Already achieving high accolades as an independent artist, Dickerson has had two songs on Sirius XM’s The High Hot 45 Countdown. The DJs on The Highway have called “Yours” the best love song of 2015.
Sounds like: Jason Mraz, The Script
You might know him from: Opening for Canaan Smith on his Stompin’ Grounds Tour.
Look out for: His EP “Yours” which was recently released to iTunes.
Listen to: “Yours” & “Blue Tacoma”
Read more about Russell Dickerson in our “On the Verge” section.
2015 was already a breakout year for Morris, who earned plenty of critical acclaim for her debut EP. Her lyrics prove she’s as equally sassy as she is talented, and we’re convinced she’ll take 2016 by storm.
Sounds like: Lucie Silvas, Stevie Nicks
You might know her from: Her gig as an opener on Charles Kelley’s first solo tour.
Look out for: She’s scheduled to play the Ryman with Chris Stapleton on Feb. 18th and will be opening for Keith Urban on his upcoming Ripcord tour.
Listen to: “My Church” & “I Wish I Was” from her self-titled EP
Before Baldridge’s debut single “Dance With Ya” was even released to radio, the accompanying music video had already racked up more than 70 thousand views on YouTube. Needless to say, this Patoka, Illinois, native is a total-package kind of artist.
Sounds like: Chicago-infused country, thanks to the horn ensemble featured in many songs
You might know him from: Past opening gigs for the likes of Cole Swindell and Scotty McCreery.
Look out for: A full-length album set to release later this year, and upcoming tour dates with Lee Brice and Parmalee.
Listen to: “Dance with Ya”
Read our exclusive interview with Drew Baldridge here.
Moakler is a more recent Nashville transplant, but he’s certainly been around the block a few times (he released his first album in 2011). His lyrics strike a perfect balance between heartfelt and smart, and we can’t wait to hear more.
Sounds like: David Nail, Thomas Rhett
You might know him from: His co-writing credit on Dierks Bentley’s latest hit “Riser,” which was also a track on Moakler’s 2014 album Wide Open.
Look out for: A full-length follow-up (we hope) to his debut single, “Suitcase.”
Listen to: “Suitcase”
Similar to Russell Dickerson, Ben Rue is no stranger to releasing irresistible love songs. His debut single “I Can’t Wait” was a big wedding song in 2014. He hopes to create songs that connect with people and tell meaningful stories.
Sounds like: Chris Cagle
You might know him from: “I Can’t Wait (Be My Wife)” was a Highway Find on Sirius XM.
Look out for: New music and 2016 shows.
Listen to: “We Were Over”
Kinder released “Kiss Me When I’m Down” in 2014, just before his (and Craig Morgan’s) former label folded. Now he’s back with a new single from his forthcoming album, produced by veteran Paul Worley.
Sounds like: a country-fied John Mayer
You might know him from: His HGTV Lodge performance at CMA Fest 2015.
Look out for: His debut album, out later this year.
Listen to: “Tonight” & “Kiss Me When I’m Down”
Read our review of Ryan’s most recent single “Tonight,” here.
Trust us – you’ll definitely want to keep an eye out for this guy in 2016. He grew up in rural Georgia and knows how to turn life lessons and his family’s simple Sunday traditions into super-catchy, foot-stomping songs.
Sounds like: Chris Stapleton with a little bit of “Chicken Fried”
You might know him from: Co-writing “Stay All Night” and “Pavement Ends” for Little Big Town, “Tailgate Blues” for Luke Bryan, and “Grandpa’s Farm” for David Nail.
Look out for: “Down Home,” his contribution to cousin Dave Cobb’s Southern Family compilation album.
Listen to: “To Be Saved,” from his 2012 self-titled EP
Take a listen to the demo of Little Big Town’s “Stay All Night,” which he wrote with Jason Saenz, Phillip Sweet, and Jimi Westbrook.
Davis left his job in the oil industry to make the move to Nashville, and we think it was totally worth the risk. His collection of demos will fit right in on your windows-down driving playlist, and we’re expecting big things this year.
Sounds like: Brett Eldredge, Thomas Rhett
You might know him from: Your Sirius XM The Highway preset and past gigs with Chase Bryant.
Look out for: Upcoming tour dates with fellow rising star Kelsea Ballerini.
Listen to: “Something to Remember You By”
These Texas-born sisters (all with “C” names – we see what you did there, gals) have a bright future ahead, starting with their punchy girl-power single, “Faint of Heart.”
Sounds like: millennial Dixie Chicks, Maddie & Tae
You might know them from: Season 2 of “The X Factor,” where they made it to the Top 16.
Look out for: Their acoustic video series called “The Blue Room Sessions.”
Listen to: “Faint of Heart”
Tara Thompson has spunk, and we can’t wait to hear more from her this year. Recently signed to Big Machine, Thompson packs a sassy punch that’ll leave you ecstatic for her next release.
Sounds like: Miranda Lambert
You might know her from: Her opening gigs for blood-relative (yes, really) Loretta Lynn.
Look out for: Tara will join Jennifer Nettles, Brandy Clark & Lindsey Ell on the CMT Next Women of Country tour.
Listen to: “Someone to Take Your Place”
Check out our review of Tara’s single here!
Hummon and his songwriter dad released the song “Make It Love” in 2013, and it was nominated for an Oscar (hear it in the documentary “TWO: The Story of Roman and Nyro”). If that doesn’t prove he has stellar songwriting chops, we don’t know what will.
Sounds like: Keith Urban
You might know him from: He co-wrote Steven Tyler’s latest single, “Red White and You” and also opened for Kelsea Ballerini.
Look out for: His debut solo single and album, coming soon.
Listen to: “Make It Love”
Read our exclusive interview with Levi here.
Sellers rocks her rough-around-the-edges sound and has been hailed as one of country’s next stars prior to the release of her debut, Light of Day. She’s a little dark and stormy, and we’re loving it.
Sounds like: Brandy Clark, Ashley Monroe
You might know her from: Her musical upbringing (her parents are Lee Ann Womack and Jason Sellers), and her background vocals on a handful of Miranda Lambert tracks.
Look out for: Her debut album New City Blues, available January 29th.
Listen to: “Light of Day”
Check back later this week for our review of Aubrie’s debut album!
William Michael Morgan
Morgan, a Warner Music Nashville recording artist is keeping it traditional country with his debut single “I Met a Girl”. With overwhelming southern charm this young artist hopes to find his place in country music and stick to his Mississippi roots.
Sounds like: Keith Whitley with a modern twist
You might know them from: His debut single “I Met A Girl” was originally written and recorded by Sam Hunt.
Look out for: He’s on the lineup for Wisconsin’s Country Fest 2016.
Listen to: “I Met A Girl”
Read our “On the Verge” feature to learn more about Morgan.
Josh Abbott Band
They’ve been making music for a while, but the band’s 2015 album Front Row Seat demands more attention. If you dig catchy songs that tell a story, take a listen – the album chronologically details Abbott’s relationship with his ex-wife.
Sounds like: Eli Young Band, Lady Antebellum
You might know them from: Their sweet 2011 duet with Kacey Musgraves, “Oh Tonight.”
Look out for: Catch them on tour through March of this year.
Listen to: “Amnesia” or “Wasn’t That Drunk”
We sat down to chat with the band in an exclusive interview.
The Jay-Joyce-produced, Nashville-bred group that is LANco has some of the best stage energy we’ve seen in quite some time, and if you haven’t experienced it for yourself, 2016 is the year.
Sounds like: Eric Church and a Band Perry/Little Big Town hybrid
You might know them from: Their lead single, “Trouble Maker,” and an opening gig for Dwight Yoakam.
Look out for: Performances on big stages like Ft. Lauderdale’s Tortuga Festival later this year.
Listen to: “American Love Story”
Read our review of LANco’s EP here.
Check out our Shotgun Seat Artist to Watch Spotify playlist below!