Five Country Stars Lighting Up 2015 Out Of Nowhere
2015 has been a good year for country music fans. With summer upon us, it’s time to get familiar with some of the future stars who make the kind of catchy, deeply personal story-songs that make this genre so special. Whether it’s that veteran Nashville songwriter taking his turn in the spotlight, a mother-daughter trio or a 21-year-old wunderkind, here are five country stars that you’ll be hearing everywhere this year.
Image via Earl Gibson III/ Getty Images
1. Lucy Angel
There are cool moms, and then there’s Kate Anderton. She’s one-third of the country trio Lucy Angel, along with her daughters Lindsay and Emily. After nearly a decade of pursuing their dream, the family finally released their debut, self-titled album in January of this year. “Crazy Too,” the initial single off the record, questions our cultural tendency to dub emotional women in relationships “crazy,” pointing a finger instead at the men who are just as responsible. With their impossibly close, God-given family harmonies, the Anderton women evoke comparisons to Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton. After AXS TV ran a special on the family entitled “Discovering Lucy Angel” one thing was clear: these girls were destined for stardom.
2. Kelsea Ballerini
Kelsea Ballerini has the No. 1 song on the notoriously tough-to-crack country radio waves this week with her single "Love Me Like You Mean It." The 21-year-old Knoxville native moved to Nashville when she was only 15 to pursue songwriting, and that dream is finally coming true: her album The First Time dropped May 18. "Love Me Like You Mean It," takes a page out of Sam Hunt’s book, channeling carefree pop and back-country confidence into a conversational, beat-driven hook. Ballerini wrapped a co-headlining slot on CMT’s Women Of Country tour with Jana Kramer in May and will drop her second single "Dibs," before the summer is over.
3. Striking Matches
Heartbroken fans of now-defunct duo the Civil Wars can rejoice—Striking Matches bring all the same vocal chemistry with none of the dysfunction. On their T Bone Burnett-produced debut Nothing But The Silence, Sarah Zimmermann and Justin Davis bring slow-simmering country rock to a boil. Take their rendition of “Can’t Help Falling in Love” for proof of the spark between the two artists. An original song they wrote together—“When The Right One Comes Along”—already made its way onto Nashville, the runaway TV drama that’s essentially become a breeding ground for the genre’s best and brightest new material.
4. Chris Stapleton
After years of penning number one hits for other people, and a stint as frontman in the bluegrass band the Steeldrivers, it was the death of his father that finally jolted Chris Stapleton to step into Nashville’s spotlight. On his debut album Traveller, Stapleton assumes a host of characters; the lonesome shut in, the adoring husband, the bleary-eyed partier. In each of these roles he’s equally at home, a true songwriting master with a honey-and-rawhide voice that makes even his toughest, heartbroken numbers sound velvety and plush. Accompanied by his wife’s bluesy harmonies, Stapleton is the rough-around-the-edges everyman that we needed this year.
5. Mickey Guyton
Mickey Guyton’s debut single “Better Than You Left Me” is a breakup ballad that rebrands tragedy as a chance to become a better woman. The message hit home, and Billboard quickly named her an artist to watch. The Texas native is going full steam ahead, and her gravelly, rich voice will grip you from the first second. It doesn’t hurt she’s friends with one of our other acts to watch. Now if only we could get these two to team up for a duet!
June 24, 2015 vía Pepsi