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CMT Next Women Of Country Artist: Lindsay Ell

Lindsay Ell at CMT Next Women of Country celebration this past November.

I had the pleasure of catching up with several of CMT Next Women of Country artists this past November as we celebrated 5 years of this program created by Leslie Fran to spotlight up and coming female country artists.

One of the artists I was able to talk with was critically-aclaimed songstress & multi-instrumentalist Lindsay Ell signed to Broken Bow Records.

In the fall of 2017, Lindsay released her debut full length album, THE PROJECT, produced by the uber-talented Kristian Bush (Sugarland), who she credits for helping her find her sound.  The album debuted at #1 and since then, Ell has been on a musical whirlwine ride traveling across the U.S. and internationally to tour with Brad Paisley to performing alongside multiple guitar legends in Guitar Legends for Heroes on November 29, 2017 at Terminal 5 in New York City, an all-star show benefitting our military, veterans and their loved ones.

Lindsay Ell performing with multiple guitar legends at Guitar Legends for Heroes in NYC Nov. 2017.
Photo credit: Lucas Kammerer

Two of Lindsay’s favorite songs on her album that she co-wrote are “Champagne” and “Castle” since both allow her to “step outside of her comfort zone” and have fun on stage.

Find Lindsay Ell’s THE PROJECT on iTunes and Google Play.

Lindsay’s favorite memories this year have come from being on tour with Brad Paisley.  Aside from simply being a great experience in front of huge crowds, Paisley does things for his tourmates like renting out a movie theatre to watch the latest installment of “Spiderman”, renting out a go-kart track to race go-karts, and much more.

She had a blast on the road in 2017 and is currently preparing to rejoin country superstar Brad Paisley on the road for his WEEKEND WARRIOR WORLD TOUR  kicking-off on January 25th in Los Angeles at STAPLES Center.

She will also be joining Sugarland for a few dates on their STILL THE SAME TOUR.

For more information and dates to find out where you can see Lindsay, please visit:

Needless to say, things aren’t slowing down anytime soon for Ell, and we wish her the best of luck in the year ahead! Find her on social media to keep up with what she has going on daily.

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Our Top 10 Picks For Artists To Watch In 2018

As 2017 comes to a close, we want to give you some of our picks and the top 10 artists we think you should keep an eye on in 2018.  Some you have heard of and some maybe you haven’t, but we think that you should! We are most excited about these artists and had a hard time narrowing the list down to only 10.

Here goes, in no particular order and from any genre.   We hope you’ll take a closer look and get to know these talented artists!

Aubrie Sellers:  Aubrie is signed to Warner Music and has a background deeply rooted in music.  She is the daughter of Lee Ann Womack and Jason Seelers.

With a strong voice that is pure country set to an edgier sound that she describes as “garage country”, she is an artist on the rise.

The first time I heard her, I was mezmerized by her sound and stage presence.  The girl’s just got swagger playing electric guitar on stage and has this slightly mysterious, edgy presence on stage.   Off stage, she is all smiles and an absolute sweetheart.

Delta Rae:  Delta Rae has stood out to me from the first time I heard them about 5 years ago.  They are signed to The Valory Music Co./Big Machine.  Their harmonies are strong with powerful lead vocals.

They’re best known for their energy, big percussion accompaniment, and the occassional stomping on stage.  As good as they are recorded, they really bring it live and it’s infectious.

Devin Dawson:  Devin has been on my radar since we first got to see him perform at a Pepsi event for discovering new artists this past summer.

Signed to Warner Music, his sound and vocals are smooth.  I could listen to him all day, honestly.  To me, he’s the John Mayer of country music and you’ll be hearing a lot more from him.

Ryan Kinder: Another artist on Warner Music that we’re excited about is Ryan Kinder.  Ryan absoultely shreds the guitar, has a more progressive country sound infused with indie rock, and exudes a strong stage presence.

Definitely keep your eye on him!

Lara Johnston:  Lara has a powerful voice reminscent of such great vocalists as Pink and Kelly Clarkson, she is a force to be reckoned with who leans towards a pop with a soul-infused, retro-influenced sound much like Maren Morris.   Her stage presence is charismatic, confident, and that of a seasoned professional well beyond her years.

Currently unsigned, we think a label should snatch her up and soon! We’re scratching our heads why she isn’t signed already.

She has a new album to be released this year, and we think she is one to get on your radar.

Drake White:  Drake has been around for a little bit and we’re surprised he hasn’t quite taken off just yet.  We think it is only a matter of time, though.

His sound is a swampy, soulful country sound exuding a passion and enthusiasm that is best experienced live, but certainly translates well recorded, too.

Smithfield:  This charismatic duo from Texas has a special quality between them with a strong stage presence, great vocals, and radio-friendly pop country songs.

Another unsigned act that a label needs to snatch up quickly and we’re wondering why they haven’t already.

We think you’ll be hearing more from them!

Jordan Davis: Universal Music Group’s Jordan Davis should be on your radar.  Reminscent of Sam Hunt, Jordan will be an artist to be reckoned with very soon with his smooth vocals and great songs.

Keep your eyes on him!

Morgan Evans:  Sadly, right now Warner Music’s Morgan Evans is probably best known to people as Kelsea Ballerini’s other half and new husband.  That’s not a bad thing, BUT Morgan Evans is a great artist in his own right from Australia that we think should keep on your radar to hrar much more from.

Charismatic, charming, a great entertainer with strong songs who can bring it on stage alone without a full band.  We want the opportunity to see him with a full band soon knowing he will shine and can’t wait to hear much more from him!

LANco: We have loved LANco’s sound and their live stage performance since we first saw them perform last January at 3rd and Lindsley.  They light up on stage and exude such an incredible energy.

Signed to Sony Music, they have just obtained their 1st number one song and we think you’ll be hearing much more from them in 2018.  They are taking off!

Honorable mentions since this was a tough list to compose:

Drew Baldridge:  Signed to Cold River Records, Drew is fun & charismatic.  Such an entertainer live.  He and his band always look like they are having an absolute ball on stage!

High Valley: This Canadian duo signed to Warner Music is full of energy and great songs! Love their pop country with bluegrass infused sound.

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Delta Rae: Big Percussion. Big voices. Why You Need To Know Them.

One of my new favorite groups is signed to Big Machine/Valory Music Company, Delta Rae.

Delta Rae formed in 2009 and are originally from Durham, NC.  The 6-piece band is comprised of Liz Hopkins and Brittany Holljes, who front the group taking lead vocals.  Harmonies by Eric Holljes (vocals, piano) and Ian Holljes (vocals, guitar).  Mike McKee on drums and Grant Emerson on bass.

Their new single just released to country radio is “No Peace in Quiet”, a beautiful ballad written by Eric Holljes during a difficult time in his life following a break-up.  Finding himself very alone in his apartment following the break-up, the song flowed out of him as he struggled to come to terms with a loss he blamed himself for and seeking some solace in music.  It’s a very personal song for him that is even difficult for him to talk about, much less take lead to sing it.  Liz takes the lead singing this song with harmonies from all.  A mesmerizing and heartfelt song.

Such a great lunch today with @bigmachinelabelgroup & @deltarae!! Tacos, Coke, & great music…What more could I ask for?! 🌮🎶 Several video clips to watch here of their acoustic performance for us. They are fantastic! Get to know their music & buy their EP online at iTunes or Google Play today! 💕 ———————————————————————————— Well, I inadvertently had some product placement in the first video sipping on a Coke during the show, I just noticed! Brought a @cocacola & a #smile, don't you think?! 😉🤣 Coke in a glass bottle is THE BEST ever. I don't know if it REALLY tastes better from a glass bottle rather than a can or plastic bottle, but it sure seems that way! 😄 ▪ ▪ ▪ #deltarae #bigmachine #acoustic #music # #country #nashvilletn #nashville #tennessee #instamusic #insta #instagram #instagramer #instagramers #instagood #instadaily #new #cool #instavideo #video #videos #videooftheday

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Ever since I first saw this group perform a few years back, they have stood out to me.  Intriguing and just different from everyone else out there.

Their passion for the music, energy, harmonies, and larger-than-life performances create magic from their stage.  It’s not something that can be defined or explained by simple words.  They must be experienced live, then you’ll understand the special, intriguing qualities that make this group different and ones you need to watch.

Watch the video for their current single; “No Peace In Quiet” here:




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High Valley Headlines Sirius XM’s THE HIGHWAY FINDS TOUR

We had the pleasure this past week to catch a rehearsal of High Valley as they prepared to set out on their first ever headlining tour with Sirius XM’s THE HIGHWAY FINDS TOUR that began on October 18th.

High Valley rehearsing at S.I.R.

With just a small sampling of what to expect from the tour that I got to hear at the rehearsal, this is going to be a great tour that you don’t want to miss. High Valley is very comfortable on stage and have a great presense that is hard to not enjoy.  They’ll have you clapping along in no time.  Skilled musicians and talented singers, you don’t want to miss them if they come to a city near you. You’ll hear their original music along with the occassional classic country & bluegrass tunes from some of their musicial influences.

At S.I.R. attending a tour rehearsal. So excited to see @wmgnashville's @highvalleyofficial head out on their 1st headlining tour with @sxmthehighway's "Highway Finds" tour! Not only are these guys some of the most incredibly-talented artists around, but some of the nicest people, too. Their current single, "She's With Me", is climbing the country charts as we speak and we really hope to see them garner their first #1. They certainly deserve it! Catch them in a city near you soon & buy their newest album, 'Dear Life'. Get to know High Valley's music, you won't be sorry!💕😊 ▪ ▪ ▪ #warnermusic #highvalley #canadians #sir #tour #rehearsal #sirusxm #thehighwayfindstour #thehighway #nashvilletn #nashville #tennessee #musiccityusa #countrymusic #country #music #countrymusiclover #video #videooftheday #instavideo #insta #instagram #instagramer #instagramers #instadaily #instagood #cool #fun #indygrammers @indygrammers

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The 20-date North American tour will be stopping in Nashville at Mercy Lounge on October 27th headlined by the talented duo along with supporting acts/tourmates, Ashley McBryde and Adam Doleac.

High Valley is comprised of brothers, Brad and Curtis Rempel, from Blumenort, Alberta, Canada. Signed to Atlantic Records, the Canadian country duo is known for their contemporary country sound with a bit of bluegrass mixed in and strong harmonies. Their use of instruments like mandolin, banjo, and steel guitar in their music is not as common in today’s country music as it was in the past; setting them apart from many others in the genre to create their signature sound. They are heavily-influenced by the bluegrass sound, since its the genre of music they grew up on and listened to regularly.

Their current single, “She’s With Me”, is currently top 20 and rising on the country charts from their most recent album, DEAR LIFE, released November 2016.

Their most recent album remains one of my favorites nearly a year after its release, and I queue it up regularly to listen to from my phone. My personal favorites off the release are the current single, “She’s With Me”, “Make You Mine”, and “Young Forever”;all uptempo tracks. Find it at iTunes and Google Play today, and support this great duo.

Don’t forget to catch them in Nashville on October 27th, if not already sold out! Tickets for all stops of the tour can be purchased at:

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A Closer Look @ Smithfield | Backstage At The Opry

We go backstage at the Grand Ole Opry with emerging country duo Smithfield as they make their Opry debut.  Get to know them a little better, find out how it feels for them to be making their debut on the Opry stage, and who they would most like to meet of the Opry members.

Watch the interview and some behind-the-scenes footage from backstage of the Opry below:

Watch Smithfield as they perform their single “Hey Whiskey” on the Opry stage.

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A Closer Look @ Sister Hazel As They Discuss Their 13th Studio Album, Live Performance DVD

We sat down recently with the platinum-selling band, Sister Hazel, as they discuss their newest release and 13th studio album in the video interview below.

Here’s a little throwback and my personal favorite pop hit of theirs when they first came on the music scene.



In their second showing on the country music charts this year, platinum-selling band, Sister Hazel, makes another strong debut with the stunning 14-track live performance DVD, “Unplugged From Daryl’s House Club,” which features their classic hits and new offerings for a one-of-a-kind intimate live experience. The album debuted at #75 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart.

In February, Sister Hazel debuted “Lighter In The Dark” at #4 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart, #6 on Billboard’s Independent Albums chart, #30 on Billboard’s Top Current Albums chart and #79 on the Billboard 200 album chart. First week sales of the new CD were 8,352 units.

Commenting on this year’s success of two Billboard charting albums, Ken Block, Sister Hazel’s lead singer said, “It’s crazy exciting to us that we’ve had TWO new CD’s on the Billboard charts is less than a year! Huge thanks to all the Hazelnuts – And especially to all the new fans out there who are just now discovering Sister Hazel’s music, live shows, and our signature events. We’re having a Blast!”

For more information on Sister Hazel visit Follow Sister Hazel @SisterHazelBand, Instagram/sisterhazelband and **Suggested Tweet: @SisterHazelBand Debuts on Billboard Country Albums Chart at #75 with #Unplugged @DarylsHouseClub and at #4 with “Lighter in the Dark”


Originating from Gainesville, FL, Sister Hazel is comprised of five gifted, seasoned musicians whose well-spring of natural talent has been called “one of the Top 100 Most Influential Independent Performers of the last 15 years” by Performing Songwriter Magazine. Song “All for You” topped the adult alternative charts during the summer of 1997 and the success propelled their album to platinum status. Sister Hazel has been equally attentive to connecting with their audience through social media. In their first showing on the country music charts they made a strong debut with “Lighter In The Dark” at #4 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart, #6 on Billboard’s Independent Albums chart, #30 on Billboard’s Top Current Albums chart and #79 on the Billboard 200 album chart. Living up to their fan-centered reputation, the band hosts annual events like “Hazelnut Hang,” that focuses on fan involvement and are co-founders of the “Rockboat,” a cruise featuring nonstop opportunities for fan/artist interaction. In addition to the events and touring, the band also gives back with “Lyrics For Life.” Founded by singer Ken Block, the charity unites musicians and celebrities for concerts and auctions to benefit cancer research and patient-care charities.

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A Closer Look @ Jamie Lynn Spears As She Talks New Music And New Sound

We caught up with singer/songwriter/actress Jamie Lynn Spears at the most recent CMT Next Women of Country event this past November at City Winery in Nashville. Host Esseri Holmes talks with her about her new music.

Check out our interview with her below to find out what she’s been up to!

Watch this acoustic session in Nashville of her latest single “Sleepover”.

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A Closer Look @ The California Honeydrops


The California Honeydrops based in the Bay area seems primed and ready to explode onto the music scene with their special fusion of jazz, blues, funk, R&B, Southern soul, and American.

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[Video] A Closer Look @ Home Free | Interview & Show Review


Photo credit: Patrice Majors

Yesterday we sat down with country sensation Home Free just before their show at TPAC in Nashville on Dec. 13th to discuss their new album, favorite Christmas memories, favorite holiday dishes, and much more!

Get to know this incredible country vocal group who first gained national attention and won fans’  hearts as the winners of NBC’s “The Sing Off” in the video below.

The show itself was a great mix of country classics with a new twist, original tunes, and Christmas favorites.  Their delivery was absolutely mesmerizing with solid harmonies all throughout their performance.  It’s pretty incredible what they are capable of doing with just their voices alone.  In-between songs, they light-heartedly interacted with the crowd keeping the concert going at a great pace and effortless flow.

@homefreeguys singing a Christmas favorite tonight at TPAC in Nashville! #HomeFree #Christmas

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A highlight of the evening was the drum solo segment minus the actual drums featuring the beatboxer of the group, Adam Rupp, that was met with a standing ovation.

Some amazing beatboxing from @homefreeguys tonight! #HomeFree Watch them tomorrow on #TheTonightShow!

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Definitely a show worth every penny that I would gladly see again!

Rated 5 out of 5 stars. 

Watch them tonight on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” as they join icon Kenny Rogers for a music performance that you don’t want to miss!

Don’t forget their new album, COUNTRY EVOLUTION, is in stores now, and available at all digital retailers.

For more information, visit their website by clicking here.


About Home Free:
Since being crowned NBC’s “The Sing-Off” victors, Home Free has made their mark on the music scene selling more than 150,000 copies combined of their popular albums, CRAZY LIFE and FULL OF CHEER, embarking on two major national tours and amassing over 53 million YouTube views. The five-man band from Minnesota, comprised of Austin Brown (high tenor), Tim Foust (bass), Rob Lundquist (tenor), Adam Rupp (vocal percussion/beat boxer) and Chris Rupp (baritone), dropped their debut album CRAZY LIFE in 2014, which hit No. 1 on iTunes Country chart and No. 4 overall. The release of their third studio album, COUNTRY EVOLUTION has elevated the band “from auxiliary entertainment to headlining attraction” (Times Leader) and hit No. 4 on the Billboard Country Albums chart. Produced by longtime collaborator Darren Rust, the deluxe version includes five originals and nine new renditions of hit songs that showcase the band’s extraordinary talents, tight harmonies and intelligent arrangements that are uniquely their own. Founded in 2000 during collegiate years, Home Free has been perfecting their live show for nearly a decade performing together for packed crowds at major fairs, colleges and theatres. Their experiences on the road helped carry them to the Sing-Off victory, build a loyal fan base and bring their homegrown country style into the national spotlight.

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Tip Tip, Hooray! Aaron Tippin Celebrates 25 Years in the Biz

2015 marks a special year for Mr. Aaron Tippin. The country music singer-songwriter is celebrating 25 years in the industry! Tippin stands on Nicki D‘s trusty Red Towel and dishes about his career milestone, fitness regimen, and delicious blackberry wine!

The “You’ve Got to Stand For Something” singer reveals, “Actually the first 10 years, I don’t even remember what happened. It was a whirlwind… There were times when it was year three or four, and I wondered if there was going to be a year five. I’m lucky to still be out here making music.”

Speaking of music, fans can enjoy both old and new tunes on Tippin’s two-disc 25th Anniversary album Aaron Tippin 25. “I’m just proud as a peacock. There are 10 of the old hits, 10 new hits, and 5 songs you probably wouldn’t expect old Aaron Tippin to do. There’s Aaron Tippin doing Frank Sinatra, which sounds like Hank Sinatra.”

The star admits that he does country music because he likes it, but it’s not the only thing he can do. This record also includes hints of bluegrass and classic rock.

When asked what his secret is to longevity in the business, Tippin shared, “I think the key to it is the fans. Every night for 25 years, I got through with the show, wiped the sweat off, got me an energy drink, and I went straight out to the front of the stage and signed autographs until the last one was signed. And I’m still doing that today.”

To further commemorate his 25 years, Tippin partnered with Stonehaus Winery (coincidentally also celebrating their 25th anniversary) to release a wine called “Aaron Tippin Country Jam“.

“I wanted something that most of my fans would appreciate and enjoy, so we’re starting out with a blackberry. And it is good, good, GOOD!”

And of course when chatting with a former bodybuilder, it wouldn’t be right if we didn’t throw some fitness questions in there. Even at the age of 57, Tippin has no shame bringing the “guns” out. Look at those muscles!

Tippin swears by good old-fashioned push-ups, squats, and sit-ups. Check out the video above to find out the singer’s go-to healthy food, favorite cheat meal, and tips for staying “right and tight.”


In case you’re wondering whose physique in country music Tippin is impressed with, he revealed, “Aw shoot, Joe Diffie back in his day. Joe hung out in the gym quite a bit. Chad Brock… I guess nowadays I would say Tim McGraw.” One can’t argue with that, but we think it’s safe to say that Tippin is OUR fitness inspiration!

The country star certainly has a lot to celebrate in 2015. This year also marks 20 years of marriage for Tippin and wife Thea. Congrats, you lovebirds!

About Aaron Tippin
Aaron Tippin’s fame was launched in 1990 with the release of his uncompromising single, “You’ve Got to Stand For Something.”  He followed with other major hits including “Where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagle Fly,” “There Ain’t Nothing Wrong with the Radio” and “Kiss This.”
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