2020 has been a lot of things (most of them bad), but it has given us the time to discover, appreciate and listen to a lot of great music, and there has been a lot of it! As we look forward to a fresh start in 2021, we’re also looking forward to following many of the great artists we’ve discovered and enjoyed this year. In no particular order, here are 15 artists we are excited for in 2021, and we think you should be too!
Over the past two years, Royale Lynn has laid quite the foundation as she prepares new music for 2021. Her October single “Texas Hold ‘Em” would make our very short list for song of the year, and features the excellent lyrical wordplay she’s injected into her two latest singles.
Essential songs: “Texas Hold ‘Em,” “Howdy” & “Alcatraz“
Grayson Michael has been intermittently releasing singles over the last two years. On his most recent, “When It Rains,” Michael showcases an impressive baritone over a Shane McAnally, Trevor Rosen and Josh Osborne lyric that is country gold at its finest, and was the first song Michael released to radio. With plans to release new music next year, we can’t wait to see how he follows “When It Rains”!
Essential songs: “When It Rains,” “Saturday Night” & “Runaway“
By the time the chorus to Caitlin Quisenberry’s debut single, “Blue” had completed, she’d hooked us. The vocal was smooth and rich, and the lyric transported us into a feeling of sadness (in the best possible way). She’s proven the ability to deliver ballads (“Blue,” “Let Love Die”) , show a sassy side (“SOS“), tell stories (“Imogene”) and even explore genre boundaries (“Get Loud With Me“).
Essential songs: “Blue,” “Let Let Die” & “Imogene“
Looking ahead to 2021, there’s no album we’re looking forward to more than Lilly Winwood’s debut, full-length records, Time Well Spent. The grungy guitar sounds on the album’s lead single, “California,” coupled with Winwood’s superb storytelling voice, have had us listening on repeat since we first heard it, and the album’s second single, “Few More Records,” is an anthemic tune for traveling musicians.
Essential songs: “California,” “Few More Records” & “The Refugee“
Chad Cooke Band
The Chad Cooke Band has been making quite the name for themselves both in and out of their native Texas for nearly half a decade, but with their last handful of single releases, the Band is firing on all cylinders and releasing what we feel is the greatest music of their career to date. With new music planned for 2021, we’ve got our eyes and ears closely tuned in to what the Band has in store next!
Essential songs: “Brothers,” “Life Behind Bars” & “Bringing Country Back“
Addison Johnson proved his storytelling chops in 2020. Whether it was love on the run with the smash “Rollin’ Stolen” or the excellent murder ballad “Cumberland River ’58,” Johnson continues outdoing his previous efforts. The songs are dripping with steel and fiddle and driven by rock-solid vocals, and he has a new album on the way in early 2021!
Essential songs: “Cumberland River ’58,” “Rollin’ Stolen” & “Old No. 7“
When we stumbled on Miller Campbell’s forthcoming EP on the iTunes pre-order chart, it didn’t take us very long for the excellent vocal on “Your Turn to Cry” to peak our interest, only to be doubled down by the vibrato and groove of “Sweet Release.” The EP, Miller, is set for release on January 15, and we’re ready to tune in!
Essential songs: “Your Turn to Cry,” “Sweet Release” & “Sweet Whiskey“
It has been easy to be complacent in the hectic times that 2020 have introduced us to, but Hannah Hokit used her down time to hone in on her artistic identity, and she gave the first taste what she found with “Two Left Feet,” an undeniably catchy, acoustic driven tune that puts Hokit’s vocal at the forefront. Hokit has new music set for release of January 1st, and she’s promising “all the feels,” and we’re ready.
Essential songs: “Two Left Feet,” “End With You” & “Texas“
Jeffery Allen Imler
There’s a lot of things about Jeffery Allen Imler’s music to love, but for us, the hooks that Imler delivers on his debut album, Another Shot, make it nearly impossible not to sing along. Match those hooks with an impressive baritone vocal and a knack for telling stories, and Imler cements himself as an artist to watch in the traditional country community.
Essential songs: “Drive Me Country,” “Full Time Country” & “Convince Me“
Sam Bowlds’ debut EP, My Own, may very well have been our favorite EP of the year, and her follow up single, “Coffee & Cigarettes,” sounds made for the radio. The acoustic-driven melodies in her songs bring her smooth, ranging vocals to the forefront, and her lyrics can both cut deep (“Innocence”) and provide driving anthems “Holy Ground”), and she has new music planned for early 2021!
Essential songs: “Holy Ground,” “Safe With Me” & “Coffee & Cigarettes“
Though she only has two singles available, Erin Viancourt has made quite the impression. The isolated vocal line on her debut single, “Playin’ Old Records” was enough to hook us. The release of her sophomore single, “Cowgirl” not only doubled down on her impressive vocal chops, but proved she could drive a song with them.
Essential songs: “Cowgirl” & “Playin’ Old Records“
Hunter Thomas Mounce
A title like “Kindergarten Rodeo Clown” is certainly enough to make a listener do a double take, but after hearing the personal, moving lyric, it makes us do it again. He’s proven the ability to write great songs, but he’s also shown a great ear for outside songs, most specifically, with his 2019 single “Feelin’ the Fire Burn Out,” written by Erin Enderlin, Luke Bryan and Jamie Teachenor, and he’s got new music set for release in 2021!
Essential songs: “Kindergarten Rodeo Clown,” “Feelin’ the Fire Burn Out” & “Fish I Can’t Catch“
For someone who admittedly treats music as a hobby, Anderson Elswick is damn good at it. His debut EP, Relic, was country music gold, and his Chris Knight tribute record, Quarantine Knights, proved that Elswick can bring it with just a guitar and vocal. He may have recorded the best version of “Mercy Walked In” that we’ve heard yet, and the originals on Relic prove him as an excellent writer.
Essential songs: “Mercy Walked In,” “A Whitley Song” & “Missin’ Whiskey“
Whether you became a fan because of her two debut singles or he impressive run on The Voice, Bailey Rae is poised to soar in 2021. Her debut single “Never Been This Lonely” is tear-in-your-beer country music at its finest, and her newest single, “I’m in Love,” has an excellent vocal and lives on the other end of the lyrical spectrum. She’s proven herself as a vocalist to the nation, and we’re excited to see how she uses her new platform!
Essential songs: “Never Been This Lonely” & “I’m in Love“
With a resurgence of the 90s country sound being one of the themes of country music in 2020, Hershell Golden proves that the song is more than welcome. Whether it’s his 90s inspired originals or his excellent take on Mark Chesnutt’s “Hello Honky Tonk,” Golden is delivering a refreshingly familiar sound with his releases. With a strong voice to match the steel and fiddle-driven tunes he’s releasing, we can’t wait to see what Golden has in store for next year!
Essential songs: “Hello Honky Tonk,” “Just to Prove to You” & “Nothin’ Good About Goodbye“
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