There’s no shortage of fresh talent in country music, and with graduation season in mind, we’ve rounded up our Class of 2017: an elite, diverse group of artists we believe are superstars in-the-making. From classic 90s-esque country sounds to progressive pop-tinged production, these singer-songwriters’ projects showcase their lyrical prowess, artistic perspective and star power. Without further ado – hold on, press play – we introduce to you The Shotgun Seat Class of 2017.
Most Likely To: Be Country’s Next Brooding Heartthrob
Best: Taylor Swift Mash-Up
With his edgy look and unique sound, Devin Dawson is a surprising new discovery in country music. His smooth and innovative vibe with songs such as “All On Me” has scored him tour spots opening for Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, and Maren Morris this year, and he’s made his way around Nashville’s songwriting circles. He offers tightly-written lyrics combined with radio-ready production that’s universally appealing yet never cliche.
For fans of: Keith Urban, Brett Young
Listen: “All On Me” / Watch: “I Don’t Care Who Sees”
Most Likely To: Figure Out Time Travel to the 70s
Best: Metallic Cowboy Boots
Jacqueline is no stranger to Nashville or its publishing scene, but she recently signed to Big Loud Records and released debut singles “Reasons” and “Hate Me.” Both offer expertly crafted lyrics, compelling stories, and polished, edgy pop-country production. She’s notched opening slots on tour with the likes of Billy Currington, and also has collaborated with Vince Gill (“Overdue” and “Take Me Down”).
For Fans Of: Sheryl Crow, Kelsea Ballerini
Listen: “Reasons” / Watch: “Prime”
Most Likely To: Bring Country Back To Traditional Roots
Best: Three-Part Harmonies
Midland has not only risen to the top with their addictive tune, “Drinkin’ Problem” (which has garnered nearly 4.5 million streams on Spotify alone and is taking radio by storm), but will make 2017 their year when the other stellar tracks on their self-titled debut EP gain popularity. The Austin, Texas, natives will take you straight back to country’s traditional sound.
For Fans Of: Ronnie Dunn, Josh Turner, Alan Jackson
Listen: “Burn Out” / Watch: “Drinkin’ Problem”
Most Likely To: Follow You Back on Social Media
Best: Statement Prom Attire
Schneider sold out shows all over the country in 2016. His videos on YouTube have seen upwards of 30 million views, and he loves interacting directly with his 600,000 fans on social media. Check out his 2016 EP releases, Wannabe and 17, as well as this year’s Spotlight’s On You, all of which offer solid radio-ready jams (notably “Gimme A Red Light” and “Two Black X’s”) with heartfelt lyrics. Also, he’s 17.
For fans of: Luke Bryan, Brett Eldredge, Scotty McCreery
Listen: “Two Black X’s” / Watch: “You Heard Wrong”
Most Likely To: Join a Motown Band on the Side
Best: Bold Lip / Smokey Eye Combo
The persistent Georgia native cut her teeth playing honky-tonks and worked her way to a record deal. When that didn’t work out, Smith continued writing songs, and eventually teamed up with Shane McAnally (SMACKSongs) to release 2016’s Introducing Jo Smith EP. Her debut single “Old School Groove” has garnered SiriusXM and radio attention, mixing country-pop with R&B influences.
For Fans Of: Faith Hill, Maren Morris, Lady Antebellum
Listen: “Queen of Fools” / Watch: “Old School Groove”