Country Next: Artists To Watch In 2024
As the country music landscape continues to evolve, keep an eye on these emerging artists in 2024.
Country Now Artists to Watch 2024
When looking back on 2023 it’s easy to point out the success of well-established acts whose names plaster the ballots of award shows and make historic waves on country radio. However, there’s another group to consider – the budding new artists who are in the beginning stages of paving their own paths to stardom. Rising stars like Bryce Leatherwood, The Castellows, Chase McDaniel, and more are still relatively new to the scene, but within their own right, they are surpassing expectations, selling out headlining shows, and carving out their place on the charts. Many of these artists broke out onto the scene as a result of their viral hits or their presence on a major TV singing competition show like The Voice or American Idol. No matter how their career started, it’s clear that a page is turning in country music and these are the singer/songwriters who, in a few short years, could be the top hitmakers of their generation, as they are already off to a roaring start.
Here are Country Now’s picks for artists to watch out for in the coming year.
Bryce Leatherwood rose to fame in 2022 while competing on Blake Shelton’s team on the NBC hit television show The Voice, and earning the coveted title of Season 22 winner. Once his time on the show came to an end, Leatherwood was ready to embark on his journey of pursuing music full-time, and that started with saving up enough money to make the move from Woodstock, GA, to Nashville, TN. He spent the summer bringing his music to new fans across the country through supporting tour dates with Dwight Yoakum, a variety of festival sets, and his debut at Nashville’s historic Bluebird Cafe. Plus, Leatherwood has become a frequent performer at Shelton’s various Ole Red establishments and even achieved a sold-out, four-show residency in the Ole Red Tishomingo, OK location. Things kicked into high gear for Leatherwood this fall when he landed his first major label record deal with Universal Music Group Nashville in alliance with Republic Records. Along with this newly-inked deal, the country newcomer dropped his first original tune, “The Finger.” Leatherwood didn’t have a hand in writing this song, but he previously admitted to wishing he had because of the instant connection he felt with the narrative that depicts the painful experience of seeing an ex move on with someone new. It’s been a whirlwind of a year for Bryce Leatherwood, and based on the trajectory he’s currently on, country music fans will likely be seeing a lot more of him in 2024.
HunterGirl took her music career to new heights when she auditioned for Season 20 of American Idol, was honored with the coveted platinum ticket, and then sang her way to the finals where she was named runner-up. This experience put HunterGirl’s name in lights and led to her signing her very first record deal with BBR Music Group. At the end of 2022, she wrapped up a co-headlining tour with Thompson and kept the ball rolling with multiple new song releases including “Red Bird,” “Hometown Out Of Me,” and her EP, “One Day.” Most recently, her debut single, “Ain’t About You,” impacted airwaves and claimed the esteemed title of most-added as it locked in 46 first-week stations in major markets. This was a historic feat for HunterGirl as it made her the first female country artist in over 30 years to write her debut radio single by herself. “Ain’t About You” was born during a time when the rising female star found herself feeling frustrated and ready to give up on her dreams, but two weeks later her emotional struggles were put to rest as she found a resurgence in her confidence and motivation through the journey of American Idol. As a result of her vulnerability, fans have gotten a glimpse into HunterGirl’s own uphill battle, which will soon unfold in an even bigger picture on her next project that’s currently in the works. The Tennessee native spent the year touring in support of Luke Bryan, Parmalee, Josh Turner, and Luke Combs, and had the opportunity to hear two of her holiday songs come to life in Hallmark Movies this season.
Just over a year ago, Austin Snell had just moved to Music City after serving in the United States Air Force. At the time, he had only released two songs and was preparing to start a new job with Amazon, leaving music as just a dream in the foreground. However, as fate would have it, he missed his first day of work to take a meeting with River House Artists and Warner Music Nashville, the joint venture that signed the budding singer/songwriter earlier this year. Now in a short amount of time, Snell released his debut EP, Muddy Water Rockstar, stepped into the Grand Ole Opry circle for the very first time, recently wrapped up his first-ever headlining tour, and has so much more on the horizon. In his newest single, “Get There First,” the Dudley, GA native gives listeners a further taste of his signature blend of country and rock, which he dubs “grunge country.” This song comes on the heels of his debut single, “Excuse the Mess,” which dropped in September 2022 and amassed more than 1 million streams in its first week, as well as his cover of Cassadee Pope’s hit single “Wasting All These Tears,” released in November 2022. Together, these songs have garnered nearly 25 million streams to date. Snell kicked off 2023 on the road opening for Warren Zeiders and looking ahead to 2024, he is on track to cross off his bucket list goal of joining Jason Aldean on the road for the country superstar’s Highway Desperado Tour.
Ellie, Powell, and Lily, the trio of sisters who make up The Castellows first started to garner a fanbase when they began posting covers to their Instagram and TikTok accounts back in 2022. Their love for music was always expected to remain a passion that stemmed from their experiences performing in church, private local parties, and their home. However, their talent was too powerful to be kept within the confines of their community in Georgetown, GA so when they caught the interest of Warner Music Nashville/Warner Records and landed their first major record deal, the trio made the move to Nashville this summer. With this brand-new adventure in front of them, The Castellows are facing plenty of ups and downs as they learn to navigate a whole world of possibilities. Some of their biggest goals in this current chapter include learning to play different instruments and building their skills in songwriting, something that wasn’t previously a regular practice for them. Their third co-writing session ever was with the esteemed songwriter, Hillary Lindsey, who helped The Castellows build out what would become their first-ever release, “No. 7 Road.” They came in with an idea and Lindsey helped them bring the full picture to life in a charming tune filled with personal aspects of their story that highlight Georgia, aka their “little slice of Heaven.” So far this is the only original song they have released but per their recent announcement via social media, another new tune titled “I Know It’ll Never End” is slated to drop in the new year. Additionally, The Castellows will continue to grow their fanbase through appearances at various headlining shows, opening gigs, and festivals.
Emily Ann Roberts
Before even graduating high school, Emily Ann Roberts launched her career as a contestant on Blake Shelton’s team on The Voice, where she earned second place in the overall competition. Since then, she’s seen tremendous growth and continues to work her way up the ladder, building on her days of booking shows at tiny venues around her hometown in East Tennessee. Roberts has come a long way from those stages as she’s now racked up a whopping total of 17 performances at the Grand Ole Opry and counting. While she’s still in the early stages of her career, Roberts’ countless hours spent performing, writing music, and finding her sound has resulted in her racking up more than 25 million streams to date. Emily Ann Roberts was raised on eras of country music that celebrated the Smoky Mountain sounds and bluegrass tendencies, from Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton to Miranda Lambert and Cody Johnson. These influences shine through aspects of her own career with songs like “He Set Her Off,” “Infinity,” “Chickens,” and “Walkin’ Shoes,” all of which were released this year as part of the emerging artist’s first full-length project, Can’t Hide Country. Released on September 22, this album features 13 tracks, 12 of which Roberts co-wrote, drawing inspiration from her journey as both a budding artist and a young woman steering her way through the rollercoaster of life. Beginning in February 2024, Emily Ann Roberts will further prove her steadily rising star status as she joins Blake Shelton as a special guest on the second leg of his 17-date Back To The Honky Tonk Tour.
Austin, Texas-born singer/songwriter Dylan Gossett taught himself to play the guitar in his middle school years and took an interest in music icons such as Alan Jackson, George Strait, Journey, The Eagles, Scorpions, and Boston as well as more modern-day sounds including the Turnpike Troubadours, Flatland Cavalry, and Cody Johnson. Over time, Gossett found himself developing an interest in writing his own music by drawing inspiration from his personal experiences and raw emotions. This passion for music propelled him through college at Texas A&M University, and then in spring 2023, he took his talents online. The aspiring artist began sharing his sound on social media through covers of songs by The Lumineers and Flatland Cavalry. By the summertime, he released his independent debut single “To Be Free” followed by his breakthrough hit “Coal,” which exploded on TikTok and has amassed 50 million streams to date. The song climbed its way to No. 35 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs Chart and No. 24 on Billboard’s Country Digital Song Sales Chart. From there, he kept the fire ablaze as he ushered in the next chapter of his career with the single “Beneath Oak Trees” from his debut EP No Better Time. Out now via Big Loud Texas / Mercury Records, this project was written, recorded, produced, and mixed by Gossett himself using the resources he had in just his bedroom. Being so hands-on with this collection allowed Gossett to guide the reins in the direction that landed it at No. 7 on Billboard’s Heatseekers Albums Chart upon its debut. Going forward, the 24-year-old artist will be releasing music under his newly signed deal with Big Loud Texas / Mercury Records, in partnership with Range Media Partners. This coming spring, Gossett is slated to embark on his first-ever headline tour of the same name, following his run with Luke Grimes. Next year will also include a slew of first-time festival appearances as well as an opening slot for Midland on select dates.
19 Recordings/BMG artist Colin Stough has come a long way in just a short amount of time. He got his foot in the door by finishing third on Season 21 of American Idol in 2022 and then kept the momentum going by growing his craft with months of hard work while simultaneously gaining experience on stages nationwide. Following the Idol finale in May of 2023, the Mississippi native signed with 19 Recordings/BMG and racked up more than 9.4 MILLION global on-demand streams with singles like “I Still Talk To Jesus” and “Bad Day.” In September 2023, 19-year-old Stough released the single “Promiseland,” which appears as the title track to his six-song debut EP. Produced by Alex Maxwell, Sean Rogers, and Austin Shawn, Promiseland showcases a deep level of honesty and authenticity that seeps through his signature blend of gritty southern rock and traditional country music. Stough is responsible for penning all but one of the tracks, allowing him to introduce himself both as a person and an artist. He spent the year showcasing these songs and more while supporting artists like Kidd G and Drake White. Next up, he will hit the road with Chase Matthew in 2024 on the extended Come Get Your Memory Tour. It’s hard to imagine that Stough was working full-time as an HVAC technician before his Idol audition and now he’s on his way to achieving dreams he never thought possible before.
Logan Crosby is another act to achieve breakout success from a TV competition show. In July 2022, the budding artist appeared on the highly acclaimed ABC hit television series Claim To Fame where he came in second place and became a fan-favorite contestant in the process. While his time on the show elevated his desire to make it in the industry, Crosby’s deep-rooted love for country music stems back to his days of growing up in rural America and performing in his grandmother’s Baptist church. Leaning into the honky tonk anthems and emotional storytelling of the genre was a clear route for Crosby and he has followed on that path ever since, only stopping to cement his mark with intoxicating tunes. He first gained widespread attention when several of his videos went viral on various social media platforms. Fans have continued to crave more from Crosby, which he has happily fulfilled through singles such as “Run Away With You,” “After All,” “If You Ask Me,” “LAND,” and more. “Run Away With You” now serves as the lead single to the country crooner’s debut EP 23 Days in L.A., which was unveiled everywhere on July 14. Co-written by Crosby and co-produced by Jonathan Singleton and Ben Simonetti, the five-track collection highlights Crosby’s skills as a storyteller and his swoon-worthy vocals that come to life through his delicate tracks guided by the journey of love to heartbreak. This project, as well as his time on the road with some of Country music’s hottest acts, makes it clear that Logan Crosby is ready to take the next steps of his career that’s already on the brink of stardom.
Chase McDaniel has faced plenty of hardships throughout his life, but what makes him stand out is his resilience to keep moving forward. Over the years he has turned to music as his outlet for overcoming grief as well as the turbulence of love and heartbreak. The aspiring superstar was born in Greensburg, Kentucky, and raised by his grandparents. Around a young age, he lost his father to addiction and had no choice but to step up and become a light in the dark days for his sister who was only seven at the time. This experience inspired one of his most popular tracks to date, “Your Daughter.” The incredibly personal tune was first released in 2022, but after seeing the effect it has on his listeners, he decided to re-release it as part of a four-song project. This collection revisits the original recording of “Your Daughter” in addition to showcasing “Your Daughter – Acoustic Wedding Version” and “Your Daughter – Willow’s Version,” which features an alternate ending in the last verse. The final track is “Project,” a song that hit all music streaming platforms in May of 2022 and has racked up over 20 million streams since its release. Inspired by this booming tune, McDaniel recently closed out his latest headlining trek dubbed, “Under Construction: The Project Tour.” Since his rise to fame on social media, McDaniel has made it his mission to remain his true self by being open and honest with his followers about his past, his current struggles with mental health and other challenges that come to light through his discography of music. He released his first single “Relapse” in 2021 and has since built his repertoire with songs like “Drop Your Tailgate,” “Big City Small Town,” “Better In a Glass,” and more.
Charleston, Illinois native Matt Schuster is still new to the game, but there’s no doubt he is already a force to be reckoned with. On September 20, 2023, he announced his partnership with Warner Music Nashville and two days later unleashed his major label debut single, “Tell Me Tennessee.” This milestone step in Schuster’s career comes after two years of releasing music independently. During this time, he showed no signs of slowing down. In fact, he did the opposite because four of the songs to come from that independent period landed in the Top 200 of Spotify’s Country Global chart and scored over 150 million streams to date. The success continued when Schuster earned a cut on labelmate Bailey Zimmerman’s Religiously. The Album. with the track “Chase Her.” In addition to “Tell Me Tennessee,” fans got a true insight into the emerging artist’s talent through “Last Fall” and his latest offering, “Left Me In The Dusk.” With each of these tunes, he exudes a breath of fresh air into the Country landscape, using his unique songwriting style and signature sound that illuminates a blend of classic rock with modern pop. Matt Schuster spent the year touring with Ashley Cooke and exploring a new scene of country music lovers in Sydney and Melbourne. He will finish out the year with Kameron Marlowe and is expected to hit the ground running in 2024.
Mae Estes came to Nashville with a dream in 2015 and while it took some time for her to land on her feet, she eventually did so with grace and is now on her way to stardom. She was raised in the small town of Hope, Ark., and caught the music bug at just seven years old. It began with performances in front of her parents, then she moved up to singing the national anthem at a southwest Arkansas rodeo. This passion for getting up on stage and letting her talent shine in front of strangers brought her to Nashville where she worked in the restaurant industry to stay afloat until signing a deal with Plaid Flag Music and fulfilling her dreams of becoming a full-time songwriter in 2020. On March 4, Estes made her Grand Ole Opry debut with a memorable performance featuring songs from her just-released debut EP, Before the Record. Produced by Paul Sikes, the six-track collection serves as her introduction as she showed off her artistry through songs like “I Quit Smokin’,” “Run,” “Your Hands,” “Thinkin’ ‘Bout Cheatin’,” “Town Left Me,” and “Die In A Bar.” As of November 2023, the 30-year-old singer/songwriter launched the next chapter of her career with the news of her signing to Big Machine Records and WME and releasing her new single, “Thinkin’ ‘Bout Cheatin’ (Recycled).” The revamped version of her studio recording celebrates her new venture and joins a collection of updated versions of her previously released tracks that pay tribute to her sentimental tune, “Recycled.” Country music has always been Mae Estes’ final destination, but the journey to get to this point is what made her who she is today – an artist with enough strength and determination to send her to the top. Beginning in January, she will join Jackson Dean on his Head Full Of Noise Tour.
Wyatt Flores has established himself as a leading force in the current generation of young country stars who are giving their most authentic selves to music with the goal of tapping into the full potential of their hopes and dreams. He has spent the last few years laboring in writing rooms, in recording studios, and on stages playing sold-out shows across the country. As a result, he’s been rewarded with a growing loyal fanbase that has taken a strong liking to his captivating melodies and meaningful stories, leading him to amass nearly 180 million streams in just two years. His name first went viral through TikTok feeds, but it’s his live shows that leave fans wanting more. The Stillwater, Oklahoma native and current Nashville resident most recently honed in on his unique sound that merges the best parts of Country, Americana, and Bluegrass through the release of his new project, Life Lessons. This collection of sentimental stories marks yet another major feat Flores who also signed to Island Records this summer, and embarked on his headlining Times Are Getting Hard Tour. The trek took Flores to a majority of sold-out dates across the country. It’s been a big year for Wyatt Flores, but he’s destined to continue his streak of rising fame into the next year.
Among all the names to pay attention to right now, MaRynn Taylor is at the top of the list. She got her big break after moving to Nashville and delivering an impromptu performance at the 2019 CMA Music Festival. From there, she hunkered down and focused on broadening her horizons in the world of songwriting and recording music when she stepped into a professional recording studio for the first time. The Black River Artist produced her first charting single, “Make You Mine,” which entered the Mediabase Country and Billboard Country Airplay charts the week of October 3 and landed at No. 46 & No. 58 respectively. Cracking into the Top 50 at country radio for the very first time marks yet another milestone achievement for Taylor, and came hot on the heels of her Grand Ole Opry debut on June 23, 2023. The success of “Make You Mine” follows a string of releases from Taylor this year, including the heartfelt apology to her younger self, “’01,” as well as “In My Head,” “Shakin’ In My Boots” and “i love you, remember.” In October, she brought her music to the big leagues as she delivered three professional sports appearances in less than 48 hours, thus putting her music in front of a set of completely new fans. After years of hard work, Taylor is finally starting to see her dreams come true one day at a time. The star in the making has racked up more than 11 million cumulative streams and 12 Telly Awards, and this is only the beginning.
Catie Offerman is a powerhouse singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who simply cannot be stopped. She hails from a horse ranch in New Braunfels, Texas, and caught the music bug at a young age. After playing in a polka band around Texas when she was 11 years old, the budding songstress made the switch to country music, which brought her to Nashville. Once in Music City, she signed her publishing deal with Universal Music Group Publishing in 2018 and a record deal with UMG Nashville two years later. Offerman’s thick Texas accent, bright persona, and songs that pay tribute to her roots have carried her through the industry and paved her path as an artist to watch. In the past few years, the rising star made significant waves in her clever songwriting with songs like “Get A Dog,” “I Just Killed A Man,” and “OK Cowboy.” These tunes, along with her unwavering loyalty to her home state, are what landed Offerman a dream-come-true opportunity to open for one of her musical heroes. This November, Offerman returned to Fort Worth, TX where she proudly performed as the sole opener for two back-to-back, sold-out shows in support of George Strait. She will continue her run with Texas country stars as she prepares to join Parker McCollum as a special guest on his Burn It Down Tour 2024.
Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.