Pour yourself something strong and kick off your cowboy boots because Country Now is celebrating the devoted artists that have made an influential impact on Music City and throughout the country music genre in 2021 with the inaugural Country Now Awards.
For the first time ever, Country Now is recognizing signed and independent musicians that have scored high placement on the charts, released smash hits, held epic performances, and even the country newcomers who have placed their name on the map since January 1, 2021.
Music fans have the opportunity to participate in the 2021 Country Now Awards, as they now have the chance to scroll through all 14 categories and hand-pick their favorite artists, songs and albums.
Fans can start voicing their opinion with unlimited votes beginning on Monday, November 15 at 9 AM CT. The polls will close on Tuesday, November 30 at precisely 11:45 PM CT.
To support your favorite artist, head to countrynow.com/vote.
This award goes to an artist whose song was released or reached peak chart position in 2021.
When country musicians are not singing about dancing, sharing a beer, or living life out on the open road – they are putting pen to paper to deliver a sentimental story. For instance, falling in love, chasing after the one who got away, or fantasizing about the life they want to build with their special someone in the future.
However, several artists have turned to their craft to cope with grief or have used their songwriting superpower to escape reality during challenging times. The way the artists out of Music City dig deep and pull from real-life experiences to generate vulnerable, yet relatable anthems is what makes the country music genre stand out amongst the rest. With that being said, browse the sentimental songs below and vote for the artist who left you with the most goosebumps.
“Ain’t Even Met You Yet” – Chris Lane
Written by: Chris Lane, Michael Lotten, and Jordan Walker
Before Chris Lane and his wife, Lauren Bushnell Lane, welcomed their baby boy into the world, the music superstar left his heart and soul on the writing table to produce his country lullaby, “Ain’t Even Met You Yet.” In an exclusive interview with PEOPLE, he shared that he had an abundance of emotions building up inside as he prepared to become a father. So, in true singer-songwriter fashion, he wrote a song about what he was feeling and experiencing. “I’ve been waiting to meet Dutton for nine months now, and the easiest way for me personally to describe my feelings and emotions is to write about it! So naturally, I wrote a song,” he shared about his father-to-son love letter.
“Bye Mom” – Chris Janson
Written by: Chris Janson and Brandon Kinney
Award-winning artist Chris Janson praises the beauty behind a mother’s love with his heartwarming track, “Bye Mom.” Throughout the moving melody, Janson highlights the significant role a mother plays in a child’s life and the unconditional love that a mother and child share together. Unfortunately, the track was born during a tough time in his co-writer Brandon Kinney’s life, as he was grieving the loss of his own mother. However, the writing process quickly became a source of healing for the talented songsmith.
“Forever After All” – Luke Combs
Written by: Luke Combs, Drew Parker, and Rob Williford
Leave it to country music icon Luke Combs to deliver one of the best wedding songs to date. “Forever After All” was the very first song Combs wrote after moving into his Tennessee home with his wife, Nicole Hocking. The good ole love song serves as the “next chapter” in their storybook and marks his final track on his award-winning record, What You See Ain’t Always What You Get. The sentimental track debuted at No.2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and became the highest entrance ever for a male country solo artist.
“Gone But Not Forgotten” – Brantley Gilbert
Written by: Brantley Gilbert, Brock Berryhill, Jason Blaine, and Jay Brunswick
Brantley Gilbert has always been vocal about his love for the brave soldiers fighting overseas and for the fallen. Therefore, when he released his heart-wrenching anthem, “Gone But Not Forgotten,” fans flooded his social media with positive remarks and stories about their loved ones who lost their lives fighting for our freedom. The release of the track came shortly after the horrific attack on the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan – that killed 13 members of the United States military. “We shared the song thinking some folks might find healing,” Gilbert shares. “It touched more lives than we ever could have imagined. Now that the song is released, I hope it helps to ease some of the pain and heartbreak for more folks out there that could use it.”
“Knowing You” – Kenny Chesney
Written by: Adam James, Brett James, and Kat Higgins
Kenny Chesney is the country music megastar that is known for busting out day drinking and good vibe anthems. However, for his touching track “Knowing You,” he took a new approach – he got in touch with his internal emotions and generated a relatable track for anyone grieving a loss. Throughout the heart wrenching tune, he sings about the roller-coaster-like emotions that go along with losing a special someone – whether from death, a breakup, or even distance. However, he encourages his fans to look on the bright side and embrace the bliss and beauty that the relationship once brought into their life.
“Made For Me To Love” – RaeLynn
Written by: RaeLynn, Drew Kennedy and Ben Stennis
Around Mother’s Day, RaeLynn took to social media to share the big news that she will be welcoming a baby girl with her husband, Josh Davis. To go along with the announcement, she teased a new track called “Made For Me To Love,” which serves as an emotional love letter to her unborn child. “Wrote this when BB girl was eight weeks in my belly,” shared the singer on Instagram about the vulnerable track that also displays the excitement that goes along with preparing for a first child.
“Made For You” – Jake Owen
Written by: Joey Hyde, Neil Medley, and Benjy Davis
Country star Jake Owen wears his heart on his sleeve in the slow-tempo anthem “Made For You” as he shares his unconditional love to his soulmate. He told Taste of Country that the passionate ballad goes down as one of his favorite songs to date. “ It’s 100 percent my favorite song that I’ve not only heard in the last little while, but it’s probably going to be one of my favorites I’ve ever recorded,” he shared.
The romantic melody arrived shortly after his upbeat banger, “I Was Jack (You Were Diane),” in May of 2020, and upon release it went on to climb to the top of the Billboard Country Airplay chart. “Made For You” is from Owen’s sixth studio album, Greetings from…Jake.
“My Boy” – Elvie Shane
Written by: Elvie Shane, Lee Starr, Nick Columbia, and Russell Sutton
Nashville’s promising newcomer, Elvie Shane, has made a splash with his beautiful tribute tune, “My Boy.” The sentimental anthem is a friendly ode to his stepson and stepfathers everywhere looking to be a positive role model. Once the lovely melody arrived on the powerful platform, blended families started to create their own videos by capturing monumental moments. The track became so successful that Shane created a “My Girl” version of the song for stepdaughters.
“Songs You Never Heard” – Luke Bryan
Written by: Luke Bryan, Luke Laird, and Josh Osborne
The beautiful ballad “Songs Your Never Heard,” written by Luke Bryan alongside Luke Laird and Josh Osborne, is a vulnerable melody that gives fans a glimpse of his close-knit relationship with his late brother Chris. Before Luke’s brother was tragically killed in a car accident at the age of 26, they shared a unique bond and love for country music. The nostalgic anthem breaks down the music the two used to listen to together, but he also wonders about the radio hits that he will never get the chance to hear.
“The Good Ones” – Gabby Barrett
Written by: Gabby Barrett, Emily Landis, Jim McCormick, and Zachary Kale
Just off the heels of Barrett’s debut chart-topping single, “I Hope,” about her ex – she dropped her romantic love song, “The Good Ones,” about her husband, Cade Foehner. The title “The Good Ones” came about when her family would ask about her boyfriend, and she would respond with, “Oh, he’s good. He’s a good one. He’s a keeper.” The two met during the fan-favorite singing competition show, American Idol in 2018. Foehner popped the question in March of 2019, and the two tied the knot in October of that very same year. Following the release, “The Good Ones” quickly became a No. 1 hit and came off of her award-winning label debut record, Goldmine.
“We Didn’t Have Much” – Justin Moore
Written by: Randy Montana, Jeremy Stover, and Paul DiGiovanni
Justin Moore’s chart-topping hit, “We Didn’t Have Much,” became his tenth No.1 single in his fourteen-year career. The sentimental track reflects back to his upbringing. “I related to it simply because it took me back to my childhood – how I grew up, where I grew up, but probably more as the era in which I grew up,” he shared with Country Now.
Are you ready to cast your vote for Favorite Sentimental Song? If so, head to countrynow.com/vote and pick your go-to track – Country Now readers have until November 30 to make their selection.