Who are our favorite new artists of the past year? What I mean by new artist is one with 3 or less charted "hit" songs that you've heard on the radio so if you don't see Jason Michael Carroll, Luke Bryan, The Band Perry, and those guys, that's why.
Thank you to all of these artists for making 2011 better for country music and a great year for the ears. Some you may know, some you may not. If not, check them out, you might find you also have a new favorite.
With his hometown charm, his warm heart, country boy good looks and a voice that can bring a crowd to it's feet, James Wesley has made 2011 his year with his hits, "Real" and "Didn't I". I love this guy and if you've met him, you know what I mean. They don't get much better than James Wesley in my book. Broken Bow Records needs to pay attention and see the demand for James' music and get to releasing his much anticipated cd.
Ahhhh, Josh Pruno. This guy always hits me right where it counts, the heart. He may not be a well known name and he may not have any songs you've heard, but his music sits right up there with the best written and performed from the soul for me. I've been with him since this whole ride started 4 years ago and I'll be with him until he can't pick a guitar anymore. He's all about his family, where he's from and singing his music from the place it matters the most, his heart. If you watch the video for his song, "That's My Cross", you'll understand. Love you JP.
2011 brought the country back to country with the laid back twang of Craig Campbell. He's 100% country and not afraid to let you know it. He's a "Family Man" who likes to "Fish" and when it comes to someone trying to get something from him, he tells 'em you'll get it "When I Get It". How do you not love a guy like that? He plays to capacity crowds
Andy Gibson co-wrote one of the biggest hits of 2011 with his country power ballad “Don’t You Want To Stay,” the week after week #1 hit for Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson. He's got a great look, one that's dark, brooding and alluring, great vocals to balance it out and obviously amazing songwriting skills, so why not venture out and give his own music a try? It's working so far, radio, tv and audiences are loving his debut single, "Wanna Make You Love Me". My vote's on Andy that we'll be hearing alot more from this guy in the following years.
Showdog's JT Hodges is an artist that's really taken Nashville by storm. His video for his hit single, "Hunt You Down", is scoring major play on GAC and CMT and the song itself is a huge radio hit with it's infectious beat and "the whistle" that you'll find yourself whistling without even realizing it. He puts on an energetic, crowd pleasing live show and can pack a house like nobody's business. Fans are anxious to find out what his follow up single is gonna be and they're even more anxious to buy his cd. I can't blame 'em. How can you not wanna buy a cd with those eyes staring at you from the cover, really? Eyes like that should be considered a weapon!
Casey James fans are like rabid dogs, foaming at the mouth ready to snap up this cd as soon as the word hits that it's available. Casey first caught our eye on American Idol when he became known as "the guy who took his shirt off" and made Kara DioGuardi blush. Now he's known as the guy that's making a name for himself in country music with his mad guitar skills, grainy voice that's brimming with pure sexuality and a blonde mane that any woman would kill for. He kinda reminds me of a younger Val Kilmer, just with kick ass hair. His debut single, "Let's Don't Call It A Night" is gaining notice on radio with new adds everyday from stations nationwide and the video is just making it's way up the GAC and CMT countdowns. It's safe to say that between the enormous clamoring of fans and the way the song's tearing up the radio, no one's gonna call it a night on Casey for quite awhile.
When you think of Wilmington, North Carolina, you probably envision rich golden sunsets, deep emerald marshes, tv shows such as Dawson's Creek and One Tree Hill, and, of course, the beautiful sandy beaches. Now, after hearing this cd, you'll be adding Madonna Nash to that list of great things about this coastal town. Madonna is the girl next door with brains, beauty and something the typical girl next door doesn't have, a gift for songwriting and a voice that will knock your flip flops off. Madonna has made a name for herself around the state of North Carolina with her recognition of being one of the area's top country music talents in the Carolina Music Awards for both 2008 and 2009. She's shared the stage with some of the best artists in the music industry including Edwin McCain, Phil Vassar and Gretchen Wilson. She was featured as a special guest on the "She's Country" tour with Heidi Newfield and Bridgette Tatum. Now she's proving that she can hold her own and has released a new self-titled cd that's taking Nashville by storm and her debut single, "Dirty Little Secret" is garnering rave reviews from radio stations around Music City and throughout the country. The video has just been picked up by CMT.com as well as GAC.
Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley have a chemistry that works and I gotta say, damn it works good! You might travel all over the country to find music this good, but the only place you're gonna find unique, hard rockin', frank, straight-forward music like this is Florida Georgia Line. These guys can crank the party up to 15 on a level of 1-10 and even if the cops are called to shut it down, the cops are gonna be tippin' back the cold ones and dancin' as they do. These boys know how to "how to party, get a little naughty" and they can keep the beer flowin' and the speakers blowin'. Their debut cd, "Anything Like Me" is a party waiting to happen and if you're a real honest to God country rocker, it's also probably a night in jail waiting on your bail to post because you cracked someone over the head with your beer bottle. Theese guys are everything that country party music should be: twang, lyrics that talk of daddy's ass whoopins, cut off sleeves, tattoos, moonshine and the South, thumping bass and guitar so loud it'll make your ears bleed. When you think country, you might think of mama's down home cookin and this cd is just like that, all meat and potatoes, none of that filler stuff that you find in other "dishes". This music sticks to your bones and leaves you wanting to lick the spoon.
When Katie Armiger steps on stage and lets that first note fly, her powerful voice blows you away. What a vocal ability Katie was blessed with, a strong tone and is 100% spot on with every amazing note. The crowd s love her and it's obvious by the whispers that are usually going around - "wow, she's great", "I gotta get her cd, loving her voice". I listen for those things and if you don't hear them, then you probably won't hear much from the artist in the future. This is NOT the case with Katie. With hit songs under her belt like "Leaving Home" and "The Best Song Ever", it's safe to say that her latest single, "Scream" is what she's been striving for because IT is her true "best song ever". She has a new cd coming out this week, a re-release of "Confessions of a Nice Girl" but a deluxe edition. I highly recommend purchasing it. Also, as a side note, whoever does her marketing is a genius! Free Katie Armiger lip balm on a hot summer day was the best idea ever when she was on tour this past June!
Fans of the hit NBC reality music show, "The Voice", will recognize hard country rocker, Jared Blake, by his trademark bandana but those who hear him outside of the show will recognize his razor sharp, hard edged vocals. His voice is one that Nashville can say it's never had and Jared's making his mark with it. His songs from the show hit #16 on the iTunes charts and his latest single, "Don't Mind", is taking off like a bullet. He just completed shooting the song's video and you can bet you'll be seeing it on CMT and GAC. He's a force that country music hasn't reckoned with before and a welcome change that takes the genre to a new level, one that isn't infused with pop and is gonna make it's own statement.
And the winner is .... Lauren Alaina. She might not have won American Idol, but she's winning the hearts of country music fans worldwide with her all American girl next door good looks, her Southern charm and her powerhouse vocals. She may be a "Georgia peach" but there's more to Lauren than just sweetness. She's genuine in who she is and she carries herself in a "non diva" way, which is much needed in today's country music. She just comes on stage, opens her mouth and gives it her all. Her debut hit single, "Like My Mother Does" peaked at #36 on the charts, but her debut album, "Wildflower" debuted at #2! Her current single, "Georgia Peaches" shows what Lauren's all about: Georgia attitude mixed with just the right amount of country charm and innocence. From the looks of her album sales and audiences at her live shows, she's here to stay so get used to it.