meta-script8 Artists Bringing Traditional Country Music Back: Zach Top, Randall King, Emily Nenni & More On Why "What's Old Becomes Beloved Again" | GRAMMY.com
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(L-R): Zach Top, Randall King, Jenna Paulette, Emily Nenni, Dylan Gossett

Photos (L-R): Citizen Kane Wayne, Frank Hoensch/Redferns, Santiago Felipe/Getty Images, David A. Smith/Getty Images, William Basnett

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8 Artists Bringing Traditional Country Music Back: Zach Top, Randall King, Emily Nenni & More On Why "What's Old Becomes Beloved Again"

While the traditional country sound has never been fully lost, pop production and folk stylings have been at the genre’s forefront in recent years. But rising stars like Jenna Paulette and Jackson Dean are ensuring that old-school sounds never die.

GRAMMYs/Jan 26, 2024 - 03:44 pm

Between chart domination and stadium tours, there's no denying that country music has been on a hot streak lately. As the likes of Luke Combs, Lainey Wilson and Morgan Wallen help the genre achieve mainstream success, a renewed popularity in the country's traditional stylings has been front and center — and there's a new wave of rising stars continuing the trend. 

Of course, country's twangy soundscapes — augmented by everything from blistering banjos to meandering mandolin, fiery fiddle and some of the most earnest songwriting around — have been persistent for decades. Plenty of stars, including Chris Stapleton, Cody Johnson, Miranda Lambert and Ashley McBryde, have taken cues from genre trailblazers like George Strait and Dolly Parton. But more than a decade after the bro-country explosion and the pop-country takeover, country music may be going back to its roots more than it has in years.

Among the new generation of country traditionalists is Randall King, who kicks off 2024's slate of traditional releases with his second studio album, Into The Neon, on Jan. 26. When it comes to the invigorated allure of country music's roots, the Texan has his theories.

"Traditional country music is more about the song, people writing from the heart and telling great stories rather than pandering to a commercial audience," he tells GRAMMY.com. 

Below, King and seven others in the new crop of traditional country artists reflect on their musical roots and the subgenre's resurgence.

Jackson Dean

Hometown: Odenton, MD
Signed label/publishing deal: 2021
Listen to: "Don't Come Lookin'," which peaked at No. 3 on Billboard's Country Airplay chart in February 2022

Since releasing his debut album, Greenbroke, in March 2022, Jackson Dean has continued to prove he's a star in the making. Greenbroke's lead single, "Don't Come Lookin,'" made him the youngest solo male country artist to top the Country Aircheck charts with their debut, landing at No. 3 on Billboard's Country Airplay chart as well. The Maryland-born, Nashville-based singer is on his way to similar success with his follow-up single, "Fearless (The Echo)," which resides at No. 18 on the Country Airplay chart as of press time.

With a vocal presence that conjures up the gritty mystique of Johnny Cash's "Man In Black" and liveliness of Luke Combs, Dean says he appreciates the full spectrum of country sounds, no matter where or how it's formed. As for the current traditional boom, Dean credits the internet for the current traditional boom.

"[With] social media and memes, people are able to pull things out of the archives and share them to a new audience,"speculates Dean. "There is also a love of nostalgia these days and a bit of a trend of romanticizing things of the past. What's old becomes beloved again."

Dylan Gossett

Hometown: Austin, TX
Signed label/publishing deal: 2023
Listen to: "Coal," which has amassed over 75 million streams

Inspired as much by crossover stars like Zach Bryan as he is by traditionalists like Alan Jackson, Dylan Gossett began making waves this past spring with his covers of the Lumineers' "Ophelia" and Flatland Cavalry's "A Life Where We Work Out" posted online. But soon his originals really put him on the map.

The lifelong Texan went viral in July with his second-ever single, "Coal," a humble and stripped-back song of struggle. "Coal" closes out Gossett's six-song debut EP, No Better Time, which taps into the traditional sound with a simple instrumental that doesn't overpower, but instead compliments deeply vulnerable and metaphorical lyrics like "They say pressure makes diamonds/ How the hell am I still coal?" 

Gossett became the first artist to sign with Big Loud Texas (an offshoot of Big Loud Records co-founded by Miranda Lambert and Jon Randall) in November. Less than a month later, he announced his first headlining tour, which sold out in less than a week.

So, why does Gossett think traditional country music is on the rebound? "I think people are diving back into real instrument and lyric-driven music," he says. 

Kimberly Kelly

Hometown: Lorena, TX
Signed label/publishing deal: 2021
Listen to: "Summers Like That" from 2022's "I'll Tell You What's Gonna Happen," her Show Dog Nashville debut

While growing up in Texas, Kimberly Kelly watched her mom struggle to chase musical dreams while simultaneously pursuing a master's degree. In 2012, Kelly's sister Kristen earned a record deal in Nashville and brought her on the road, giving her a behind-the-scenes look at the music business — ultimately inspiring her own artist journey.

Enter the aptly titled I'll Tell You What's Gonna Happen, Kelly's long-awaited 2022 debut full of classic country sass, dynamic vocals and compelling storytelling.. With songs like "Honky Tonk Town," "Blue Jean Country Queen" and a cover of Billy Joe Shaver's "Black Rose," the record honors torchbearers like Patsy Cline and Patty Loveless with a mix of easy-going ballads and hard-driving bangers. 

"I think it always comes back around because it's about real-life storytelling," Kelly says of the traditional sound. "Even I enjoy catchy bops, good grooves and songs that don't make me have to think too much, but every now and then you need to hear something that really tugs at your heart."

Randall King

Hometown: Hereford, TX
Signed label/publishing deal: 2019
Listen to: "You In A Honky Tonk" from 2022's Shot Glass, King's debut album for Warner Music Nashville

After building an independent following through a rigorous touring schedule, he eventually signed with Warner Music Nashville in September 2019. As his 2022 LP, Shot Glass, displays, King playfully mixes the lightheartedness of Jon Pardi with the sincerity of George Strait. Its forthcoming follow-up, the 18-track Into The Neon, will further tackle old school tropes through a modern lens, as evidenced on "Burns Like Her" and "Hang Of Hangin' On."

"I believe there's a way to blend some modernism into traditionalism," King suggests. "In this day and age you can take advantage of technology that you didn't have before and create great sounds. Sounds that are edgy yet natural while still holding to the roots and the value of traditional country music."

Emily Nenni

Hometown: Orinda, CA
Signed label/publishing deal: 2022
Listen to: "Can Chaser" from 2022's On The Ranch, her debut album for New West Records

Raised on her parents' Patsy Cline and Hank Williams cassettes, it's no surprise that Emily Nenni turned into a honky tonk queen. 

Approaching a decade in Nashville, the artist put her name on the map in 2022 with her New West Records debut On The Ranch, a collection of songs that largely came together during a stint on a Colorado ranch in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has everything traditional purists love — a blistering backbeat, plenty of pedal steel and lyrics about everything from strained relationships to baddass barrel racers. A follow-up to it is expected to come later this year.

"Traditional country music has such charm. It's honest, it's playful, it's sad, it's rowdy," Nenni says. "Some people love it because they want to go dancing all night at the honky tonks. Others are listening for the lyricism. Even some folks who just like it for the cowboy boots! There are all kinds of reasons and all kinds of people, and that makes me happy."

Jenna Paulette

Hometown: Lewisville, TX
Signed label/publishing deal: 2021
Listen to: "You Ain't No Cowboy" from 2023's The Girl I Was

Some of Jenna Paulette's earliest memories involve helping tend to her family's ranch and singing along to songs from the Chicks, Shania Twain and Reba McEntire with her siblings from the back seat of their piping hot gold Suburban. Even 10 years into living in Nashville, she makes it back to West Texas to help work the land whenever she isn't on the road or writing.

That blue-collar work ethic and humility has not only paid off on the farm, but in her musical pursuits as well. In 2022, CMT named her as part of its Next Women of Country class. Then in March 2023, Apple Music named her Country Riser of the Month as she celebrated the release of her transformative debut album, The Girl I Was. On the 16-song project, she fuses the sounds of Twain and Miranda Lambert, tackling mental health with the somber "You Ain't No Cowboy" and waxing philosophical on "Country In The Girl."

Whether back at home checking cattle or on some stage singing her songs, Paulette plans to keep her boots dirty and her soul clean every step of the way.

"I think people are craving something real in a world that breeds fast food, clickbait fame and the appearance of perfection," Paulette hypothesizes. "They want homemade biscuits, depth and family. They need something to remind them of their roots. The things I hold dearest and want to exemplify with my music are the things I think so many are longing to know still exist in our culture. It's actually pretty beautiful and gives me hope for the future."

Brit Taylor

Hometown: Hindman, KY
Signed label/publishing deal: 2023
Listen to: "No Cowboys" from 2023's Kentucky Blue, which was co-produced by Dave Ferguson and Sturgill Simpson

Brit Taylor hit rock bottom after a decade in Nashville. Between 2017 and 2018, she went through a divorce, her band disbanded, she nearly lost her home and lost her publishing deal.

But in the years since, she's bounced back in stunning fashion, beginning with the release of her solo debut, 2020's Real Me. Its highly anticipated follow-up, 2023's Sturgill Simpson and Dave Ferguson co-produced Kentucky Blue, was praised for its sincere storytelling and classic country soundscapes, leading to her Grand Ole Opry and performances on bigger and bigger stages in the months that followed. 

With plans to release Kentucky Bluegrassed — an eight-track project containing five previously recorded originals done bluegrass-style along with three new tunes — on Feb. 2, Taylor will be incorporating the sounds of her Appalachian youth into her music more than ever before. Despite shifting sounds, Taylor says that today's modern studio tools can still be used to embrace the traditional, citing Kacey Musgraves as an example of someone who blends "the bells and whistles and all the styles she loves while still being her authentic self." 

"At the end of the day, traditionalist or not, I think artists should be themselves and not try to chase after the current trends or even try to chase their past selves," Taylor proclaims. "Every artist should feel free to be true to the person they are at the moment they are in."

Zach Top

Hometown: Sunnyside, WA
Signed label/publishing deal: 2021
Listen to: "Like It Ain't No Thing," which reached No. 1 on the Bluegrass Today charts in February 2022

Opposite of Taylor, Zach Top is looking to parlay an upbringing in bluegrass music into a career in country music. After reaching No. 1 on the Bluegrass Today charts with "Like It Ain't No Thing" in early 2022, Top became the first signee to independent Nashville label Leo33 in September 2023.

Since then, the Washington state transplant has released a series of singles including the Kenny Chesney-esque "Busy Doin' Nothin' and George Jones-fueled croons on "Justa Jonesin'." Each song has been twangier than the last, as Top recounts his love of the "No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems" and "White Lightning" eras of country music that shaped him — a concept he's expected to further delve into on the 12-song Cold Beer & Country Music out April 5.

"I think Nashville lost some of its soul in the last decade or two," asserts Top. "And I think that people, audiences, radio listeners, ticket buyers, whoever it is, got pretty tired of that. So they're looking for something that's got some more soul. And I think that absence of soul is why you see some of the real, raw-sounding music become very popular with people. We lost a lot of soul for a long time. People want soul."

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Tanner Adell performs in 2024
Tanner Adell performs at the 3rd Annual "BRELAND & Friends" benefit concert in Nashville, Tennessee in 2024.

Photo: Jason Kempin/Getty Images for BRELAND & Friends

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12 Must-See Acts At Stagecoach 2024: Tanner Adell, Charley Crockett & More

Before the country music festival returns to the California desert April 26-28, get to know some of the most buzzworthy artists set to take this year's Stagecoach Festival by storm.

GRAMMYs/Apr 23, 2024 - 11:28 pm

In a matter of days, some of country music's best and most promising acts will come together in Indio, California for Stagecoach Festival 2024. The annual event has spotlighted an eclectic mix of talent since 2007, but this year's impressive roster of performers helped Stagecoach earn its largest number of ticket sales in the festival's 17-year history.

Held April 28-30 at the Empire Polo Club — the same scenic desert landscape as the long-running Coachella Music and Arts Festival — this year's Stagecoach Festival offers a diverse blend of artists that spans from headliners like Miranda Lambert and Eric Church to surf-pop icons the Beach Boys, hit rockers Nickelback and hip-hop star Post Malone

Along with this diverse roster of superstars, the 2024 Stagecoach lineup is filled with a captivating list of artists on the rise. From a singer/songwriter enjoying a much-deserved comeback to a skillful 25-year-old putting his own spin on the '90s country sound, this year's crop of talent is paving the way for the future of country music.

Stagecoach Festival 2024 is completely sold out, but country fans who didn't snag their ticket in time can still enjoy all the festivities by streaming performances live via Amazon Prime all weekend long. Before you head out into the California sun or get cozy in front of your TV, take a moment to learn more about these 12 must-see acts coming to Stagecoach this year.

Tanner Adell

Since the release of Beyoncé's country-inspired album COWBOY CARTER, singer/songwriter Tanner Adell has become one of the genre's most talked about new artists. Before she was tapped as a guest vocalist on Beyoncé's cover of the Beatles' classic "Blackbird," and original track "AMERIICAN REQUIEM," Adell had already garnered a dedicated fan base online. 

Thanks to viral hits like "Buckle Bunny," the playful title track of her 2023 debut album, the Nashville-based talent has earned praise from both critics and country listeners worldwide. From heartfelt ballads to beat-driven bops made to get you on the dance floor, Adell blends elements of radio-ready modern country and rhythmic hip-hop with ease.

Adell's Saturday performance at Stagecoach promises to be a fiery and fun showcase of her polished pop-country songbook.

Zach Top

While growing up in Washington state, Zach Top forged a deep connection to the sound of traditional country music. From Marty Robbins to Keith Whitley, the influence of the genre's past is deeply entwined in every track of the talented 25-year-old's brand new record, Cold Beer & Country Music

Top's 12-track LP has earned plenty of buzz for its new take on the neo-traditionalist style that dominated country radio in the late 1980s and early '90s. With engaging vocals reminiscent of the late Daryle Singletary and thoughtful lyricism, Zach Top provides a fresh new take on a familiar and formative sound.

Brittney Spencer

Over the past five years, Brittney Spencer has repeatedly proven why she's one of the most important and captivating voices within modern country music. From her acclaimed 2021 single "Sober & Skinny'' to her celebrated collaboration with country supergroup The Highwomen, Spencer's vocals are consistently as emotive as they are effortless.

Spencer's charismatic personality and boundless energy take center stage through every performance, making her live shows a can't-miss event. Her Sunday afternoon set at Stagecoach offers a chance to hear cuts from her stellar debut album, My Stupid Life, which dropped in January.

Vincent Neil Emerson

Texas native Vincent Neil Emerson first earned widespread praise with the 2019 release of his debut album, Fried Chicken and Evil Women, earning him comparisons to influential artists like Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt. His narrative-driven lyrics and hauntingly raw vocals have won the hearts of country fans far outside the Texas plains.

Over the years, he's collaborated with fellow alt-country favorite Colter Wall and recruited the creative genius of Rodney Crowell, who serves as producer on Emerson's self-titled 2021 LP. With his most recent album, the Shooter Jennings-produced The Golden Crystal Kingdom, Emerson once again channels the old-school magic of the traditional country that only comes from a rare type of Texas troubadour.

Katie Pruitt

Although Katie Pruitt has been locally lauded as among the best of Nashville's modern crop of singer/songwriters for years, her rise into the mainstream is still overdue. The Georgia native's stunning 2020 debut album, Expectations, was hailed for its raw honesty and effortless vocal intricacies. 

When she takes the stage during the final day of Stagecoach 2024, Pruitt will be armed with a brand new batch of awe-inspiring songs. Released on April 5, her sophomore album, Mantras, delivers an unpredictable, genre-bending sound that displays a sense of artistry far beyond her years. Don't miss your chance to see Pruitt's mesmerizing live set, which is guaranteed to have you dancing and maybe even wiping away a few tears.

Carin León

In just a few short years, beloved Mexican singer/songwriter Carin León has evolved from a regional hitmaker to an internationally known talent. His reflective and honest songs have connected with audiences globally, becoming one of Spotify's most streamed modern Mexican artists. 

Earlier this year, the two-time Latin GRAMMY-winner made his Grand Ole Opry debut, and will serve as the opening act for rock legends the Rolling Stones' Hackney Diamonds Tour when it heads to Glendale, Ariz. this May. (And just one week before his Stagecoach debut, he also made his Coachella debut.) Fans who catch his Friday set may be lucky enough to see a live rendition of "It Was Always You (Siempre Fuiste Tú)," his fresh collaboration with fellow Stagecoach 2024 artist Leon Bridges.

Trampled By Turtles 

Thanks to their unique blend of bluegrass, folk, country, and a dash of rock and roll, Minnesota-based outfit Trampled by Turtles has become a music festival staple — and will make their third Stagecoach appearance (and first in 10 years) on Saturday. Their high-energy live sets channel the psychedelic magic of rock's jam band scene, subbing plucky acoustic instrumentation in the place of rolling electric guitar.

The long-running band will treat fans to an array of tracks from their impressive career, which spans 10 albums, including their critically praised 2022 LP, Alpenglow. Even if you aren't already familiar with Trampled by Turtles' extensive list of releases, you're sure to be captivated by their hypnotizing performance style and positive energy that radiates from the live stage.

Charley Crockett

Texas-born talent Charley Crockett is one of few modern artists who have proven worthy enough for the coveted title of "troubadour." The seasoned singer/songwriter's appearance at Stagecoach will coincide with the release of $10 Cowboy, his soulful and synth-tinged 16th studio album.

Crockett's mix of traditional country and thoughtful folk, infused with gritty 1970s pop, creates a nostalgic charm that captivates the live stage. His descriptive story songs and distinctive twang echo the genre's early greats while expanding those classic country themes into new and surprising sonic territory. His Stagecoach 2024 set is sure to deliver a blend of fresh album cuts along with fan favorites from his already-expansive catalog.

Lola Kirke

You may know Lola Kirke as an accomplished actress in both television and film, but the British talent is also one of country music's most surprising new artists. Her stylized mix of traditional country and edgy pop-rock is refreshingly fun and tailor-made for Stagecoach's good-time vibe. 

In recent months, Kirke has shared a string of infectious singles leading up to the release of her latest EP, Country Curious. In March, she dropped a stellar take on the Paula Cole classic "Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?" featuring Stagecoach 2023 alumni Kaitlin Butts. Make sure you clean off your boots before Kirke's set, because there's a good chance she'll have a very special line dance lesson ready for the crowd.

Willie Jones

For nearly a decade, Louisiana-born talent Willie Jones has captivated country fans with fresh and genre-bending tracks, propelled by deep, rich vocals. Since first making waves with his rendition of Josh Turner's "Your Man" during an audition for "The X-Factor" in 2012, Jones has been paving his own path in the genre. 

He's recorded two full-length records, including his irresistible 2023 LP Something to Dance To. His Stagecoach set will certainly be a boot-stomper, offering concertgoers a chance to experience the magic captured on his latest EP, The Live Sessions, which arrived on April 5.

Sam Barber

Missouri native Sam Barber has evolved from a hopeful musician to a viral sensation with a major-label record deal. While passing the time at college, the gifted 20-year-old began recording covers of his favorite country tracks and shared them on TikTok, quickly garnering thousands of eager listeners. His down-to-earth charm, paired with surprisingly seasoned and gritty vocals, also earned the attention of Atlantic Records. 

In 2023, they shared Barber's debut EP, Million Eyes, which spawned the breakthrough radio single "Straight and Narrow." Now, fresh off the release of Live EP 001 and a string of new singles, Barber will bring his thoughtful yet edgy country sound to Stagecoach, marking another rapidfire career accomplishment.

Luke Grimes

Although you may know him best for his role as the chaotic charmer Kayce Dutton on the acclaimed television series "Yellowstone," Luke Grimes' creative talents expand far outside the small screen. A lifelong musician and lover of country music, Grimes took the stage at Stagecoach 2023 in support of his debut EP, Pain Pills or Pews. The project's raw and honest tracks earned critical acclaim and quickly led Grimes back into the studio, tapping Dave Cobb as producer for his vulnerable new self-titled LP, which arrived on March 8.

Whether you're a longtime fan of his acting or an already devoted listener, Grimes' set marks a pivotal moment in his ever-evolving musical career — and one of many can't-miss moments at this year's Stagecoach Festival.

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Jackson Dean performing in 2022
Jackson Dean performs at Faster Horses Festival in 2022.

Photo: Erika Goldring/WireImage

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12 Must-See Acts At Stagecoach 2023: Nate Smith, Morgan Wade, Jackson Dean & More

Before the famed country music festival takes place on April 28-30, take a look at some of the rising stars to check out whether you'll be at Stagecoach or tuning in from home.

GRAMMYs/Apr 26, 2023 - 10:04 pm

Now that the Coachella dust has settled at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, Calif., it's time for country music to take over.

Since 2007, the Stagecoach Festival has been bringing some of the biggest names in country music to the desert. This year is no different, with the festival featuring headliners Luke Bryan, Kane Brown and Chris Stapleton, along with some of country's newer hitmakers, including Bailey Zimmerman, Parker McCollum, Gabby Barrett, Lainey Wilson and Tyler Childers

In addition to the always exciting headliners and stars, Stagecoach continues to be a showcase for up-and-coming talent. Several budding country and folk artists are on this year's roster, from a genre-bending New Jersey native to a bluegrass songstress with a powerful voice.

For fans who can't make the trip to catch the action in person, Stagecoach will be live streaming all weekend on Amazon Prime. No matter how you're enjoying the festival, get to know 12 acts to catch at Stagecoach 2023. 

Nate Smith

The weekend will be a big one for Nate Smith all around: Not only will the California-born singer make his Stagecoach debut, but he will be releasing his self-titled debut album on the same day, Friday April 28.

It's been a long road to success for Smith, who first moved to Nashville in his early 20s. After things didn't take off, he returned home to Paradise, Calif.; in 2018, he lost everything he owned in the massive wildfire that ripped through his hometown.  

But through it all, he found hope through music, and returned to Nashville to try again. Now, he has a No. 1 song — the gritty breakup romp "Whiskey On You" peaked in January — and a rejuvenated soul that is clearly resonating.

Tiera Kennedy

Tiera Kennedy's smooth voice and southern charm first caught the attention of Nashville in 2019, when she was signed as the flagship artist on Songs & Daughters, a publishing company founded by songwriter Nicolle Galyon. In 2020, she released her first single "Found It In You" to critical acclaim.

Since then, Kennedy has independently released a self titled EP, giving fans a more full sense of who she is as an artist and songwriter. The release also led to a record deal with Big Machine Records in 2021.  

Kennedy's bright personality has resonated just as much as her music, as the singer hosts her own show on Apple Music Country. Titled The Tiera Show, the program sees Kennedy sharing her take on what's on the rise in country music with a very personal touch.

Jackson Dean

Another artist making his Stagecoach debut this year, Jackson Dean has been winning over country music fans with his outlaw style and unique, gritty voice. He's already scored a top 5 hit with his debut single, "Don't Come Lookin,'" which reached No. 3 on Billboard's Country Airplay chart.

Dean's success has not been limited to just the charts, either: "Don't Come Lookin'" was featured on the TV show 'Yellowstone,' and he's been included on a number of artists to watch lists including Spotify's Hot Country Artists to Watch in 2023, Amazon Music's 2023 Breakthrough Artists to Watch: Country Class, and CMT's Listen Up class of 2023.

After selling out his headlining debut in Nashville in January, Dean will spend the majority of the year headlining sold-out shows and supporting the likes of Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Parker McCullum, Lainey Wilson, and Jon Pardi.

Mackenzie Carpenter

After first seeing success as a co-writer on Lily Rose's breakthrough song, "Villain," Mackenzie Carpenter has since made a name for herself as an artist in her own right. The Georgia-born singer's down-home personality shines through in her fun country-pop tunes including the catchy cautionary tale "Don't Mess With Exes" and the heartbreaking ballad "Jesus, I'm Jealous" — all of which ultimately prove that she isn't afraid to be herself.

In less than a year since signing with Big Machine imprint Valory Music Co., Carpenter has enjoyed many career milestones, including a Grand Ole Opry debut and an invitation to CMT's Next Women of Country class of 2023. And just weeks before taking the Stagecoach stage, Carpenter released her debut self-titled EP. 

Breland

Since the release of his debut single "My Truck" in 2019, Breland has been making waves in the industry by stretching the boundaries of country music. The New Jersey native's sound is derived from a mix of hip-hop, R&B and gospel, while still remaining recognizably country — he even titled his debut album Cross Country.

Breland's feel-good, diverse sound has already helped him land collaborations with country superstars, including Sam Hunt, Keith Urban and Dierks Bentley. His single with the latter, "Beers On Me" (also featuring HARDY), scored Breland his first No. 1 on the Country Airplay chart, but he's proving to make an impact in his own right with more than 1 billion streams to date.

This year marks Breland's second year in a row on the Stagecoach stage, as he performed at the Late Night at Palomino after-party in 2022.

Bella White

Bella White brings a fresh perspective to an old-time sound. The Canadian artist serves audiences traditional bluegrass sounds with a clear, powerful voice.

White's voice, however, is not her only strength. She's also a skilled instrumentalist, as she was raised in a musical household and was drawn to the mandolin and banjo early on in her life. 

Following the success of her debut album Just Like Leaving, White signed to Rounder Records in 2021. Just ahead of her Stagecoach performance, White released her second album, Among Other Things, on which she explores heartbreak and a wider breadth of sounds, weaving drums and electric guitars into her traditional-sounding strings.

Kameron Marlowe

After a short stint on 'The Voice' in 2018, Kameron Marlowe began paving his own way in Nashville. The singer has made a name for himself with his signature smoky voice, while making sure his music is a true reflection of who he is.

Marlowe gained traction with his first independent release, 2019's "Giving You Up," which helped him land a record deal with Sony Music Nashville in 2020. He's since released his debut album, 2022's We Were Cowboys, and has sold out shows across the country — including his hometown of Charlotte, N.C.

Marlowe nods to his home state in his latest release, "Take Me Home," in which he grapples with the changes that come along with success: "I hate feeling like I'm someone / That I've never been before / Take me home to Carolina / I don't wanna be here anymore," he sings.

Morgan Wade

A trailblazing country singer with an edge, Morgan Wade has captivated audiences with the striking vulnerability of her music. Wade takes her experiences with heartbreak, mental health and addiction and crafts them into songs that stick with listeners.

Wade's voice borders on the edge of country and rock, which makes her moving lyrics all the more affecting. That is particularly true on her breakout track, "Wilder Days," which takes listeners through the raw emotion of finding the right person at the wrong time.

Since the 2021 release of Wade's album Reckless, she has been touring nonstop, both in the U.S. and overseas. Wade's Stagecoach performance is one of over 65 tour dates for 2023, giving fans across the country and around the world a chance to experience her powerful music live. 

Tre Burt

Folk artist Tre Burt uses his storytelling prowess to tell the stories of the moment, amplified by his rootsy sound. Burt engages audiences with tracks like "Under the Devil's Knee," a protest song written during the upheaval of 2020, a year during which he found musical inspiration in the chaos surrounding him.

Since hitting the scene, Burt has performed with artists including Nathanial Ratecliff and Margo Price, and has become a staple at folk festivals around the country. Burt expanded on his deeply affecting sound with his second album, You, Yeah, You, which arrived in 2021; with his powerful delivery on stage and on record, he's been labeled a "storyteller and musical philosopher," and a "troubadour" blazing his own path.

Jaime Wyatt

Jaime Wyatt's success has been long and hard-earned. The singer/songwriter entered the music business when she was just a teen, and the now 37-year-old has kept her nose to the grindstone ever since. Her years have been colored with late nights in honky tonks, addiction, and recovery, and she details it all in her traditional country music.

Wyatt's 2020 release, Neon Cross, challenged the genre, as the singer examined her identity as a queer woman, and positioned herself as a true outlaw in the landscape of the industry. In 2021, she released a merch line with a portion of the proceeds benefiting G.L.I.T.S, an organization that addresses systematic discrimination of LGBTQIA+ individuals. In being true to herself, Wyatt has provided a beacon of hope for queer artists and fans alike.

Kaitlin Butts

Kaitlin Butts has made a habit out of being a good listener, crafting the stories she hears into fun, innovative country songs. Like many of her Stagecoach cohorts, Butts has a versatile sound, drawing in influences from rock and 90's emo music — but the baseline is always undeniably country.

While Butts has been releasing music since 2015's Same Hell, Different Devil, this past year has been a whirlwind for the budding star. Her second album, What Else Can She Do, landed in the top 10 of Billboard's Americana Albums chart; the title track earned a spot on Rolling Stone's "100 Best Songs of 2022" list.

Within a span of six months, Butts played the Ryman Auditorium and made her Grand Ole Opry debut, and has opened for fellow Stagecoacher Morgan Wade as well as playing several other festivals.

American Aquarium

American Aquarium, led by BJ Barham, incorporates elements of country, folk and rock music into their thought-provoking music.The group's lyrics wrestle with some of life's biggest problems and tell delicate, personal stories.

The band's latest record, Chicamacomico, is a journey through the lead singer's personal losses. The album is a departure from the band's previously harder, rock-leaning sound, presenting more stripped-down tracks that lean more on Barnham's stirring vocals. Even so, Chicamacomico has been hailed as their best album yet. 

Over the span of a 20-year career, American Aquarium has cycled through many members; Barnham being a mainstay on lead vocals. The band has proven their staying power in the industry, and their presence at Stagecoach proves that the festival is a celebration of country music in all its forms.

Behind Shania Twain’s Hits: How A Hospital Stay, A Balmy Porch And A Hair Nightmare Inspired Her Biggest Hits & Videos

Dixie Chicks at the 42nd GRAMMY Awards

Photo by LUCY NICHOLSON/AFP/Getty Images

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Ashley McBryde, Ryan Hurd & More Country Artists Look Back On Dixie Chicks' 'Fly'

The Recording Academy speaks to current mainstream staples, Americana noise-makers and promising newcomers on the importance of 'Fly' in their own work and personal journeys

GRAMMYs/Sep 4, 2019 - 10:04 pm

The impact of the Dixie Chicks goes far beyond album sales and touring figures. Natalie Maines, Martie Maguire and Emily Strayer have had an undeniable influence on much of modern country music, and in many instances, they were the driving force behind many of today’s artists. GRAMMY nominee Ashley McBryde felt the power the three women from Texas could have when she was just 11 or 12, attending her first-ever concert.

"The Dixie Chicks' Fly Tour was my first major concert. We lived so far in the hills we didn’t get to go to many concerts," recalls McBryde. "I asked my mother if I could stand in my chair, and she said, 'Only for the first couple songs. Don’t block anyone, honey.' The crowd roared 'Dixie Chicks! Dixie Chicks!' I looked at mom and said, 'I want this, mom.' She said, 'What, baby?' I answered, 'An arena full of people screaming my name. And I’m gonna have it.' My mother smiled and said, 'I believe you will, my sweet girl.'"

"So the Dixie Chicks' success meant everything to me. They showed me that we can do the damn thing," she adds. "Fly was a flawless record. There's not a single track you can skip. And for girls like me, who listened to it on repeat nonstop, that sound, those harmonies, that sass and drive, it seeped into our own sounds. It endures because it helped shaped the next generation of artists."

McBryde is certainly not alone. The Recording Academy spoke with many current mainstream staples, Americana noise-makers and promising newcomers for a track-by-track commentary on select tracks and the importance of Fly on their own work and personal journeys.

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"Ready to Run"

Carly Pearce: "Ready to Run" was an iconic song for me and one of the songs that I sang over and over. Growing up, I remember hearing it and thinking, "Wow, this is the kind of music I want to make." Also, no one sings like Natalie! The Dixie Chicks paved the way for women in country music, and I’m still inspired by their music today. I can only hope to inspire others the way "Ready to Run" and The Dixie Chicks have inspired me.

"If I Fall You're Going Down with Me"

Gone West (Colbie Caillat, Justin Young, Jason Reeves and Nelly Joy): We love the high energy vibe that is felt in "If I Fall You’re Going Down With Me," even though it's still very organically produced. The creative background vocals and hooky fiddle lines, as well as creative chord changes, truly takes the listener on a ‘falling in love’ rollercoaster journey. You can truly feel the girls emotions conveyed in every single word that's sung with conviction which is refreshing! Falling in love should be flirtatious and fun, which is exactly how this track feels to us.

"Cowboy Take Me Away"

Gwen Sebastian: I believe while the album was ahead of its time, it still maintains a classic approach on what country music stands for, which is realness in the lyrics. I can't but help to sing along to the infectious melody, and as a female, I have a tendency to fantasize that there's a ‘hero’ to take me away from the real world. I think every girl wants to be rescued every now and then. The band were ‘outlaws’ in their lyrics and melodies, yet were able to be mainstream which is a difficult thing to accomplish.

"Cold Day in July"

Ryan Hurd: I bought this album on vinyl for Maren [Morris] for Christmas, so we sat and listened through it again one night at home. It's timeless, and it’s familiar and still such a stunning piece of work. "Cold Day in July" is one of those songs that seems so obvious. It’s one of those "how did I not think of that" songs. It’s the kind of song that makes country music special and makes me so excited for their new project.

"Goodbye Earle"

Runaway June (Naomi Cooke, Hannah Mulholland, and Jennifer Wayne): It took a band as big as the Chicks to record "Goodbye Earl" and give it the personality it had. The song was ahead of its time, and I can’t imagine another band recording it and attributing as much as the Chicks had.

"Hello Mr. Heartache"

Cam: I love the throwback shuffle. It reminds me of country my grandparents would listen to, so it immediately earned a place in my heart. Casually talking to your heartache like it’s an old, unwanted friend is so brilliantly country, and to set the whole thing to dancing music, it puts humor and acceptance in it. For a teenager constantly overwhelmed by emotions, it felt real nice to have a name for that heartbreak process and be able to laugh and dance my way through it.

I was around 13 or so, at a big outdoor swim meet in the heat of summer in California and a friend started singing "Wide Open Spaces."  I was like, "What is that?" They said, "You haven’t heard of the Dixie Chicks?," and started rattling off song titles and singing the hooks from hits. I went and bought Fly on CD and sat in my room, absorbing the music while pouring over each page of the album booklet. I loved the sounds, their voices, the lyrics, but I don’t think I realized till I was older that it was the confident delivery that was something I needed. No matter the situation (heartbreak, murder, not ready to get married), they sounded so unwaveringly clear about how they were feeling.

"Don't Waste Your Heart"

SmithField (Jennifer Fiedler and Trey Smith)Fly was such an iconic album! Being a duo that relies so much on harmony in our music, the Dixie Chicks were such an example to us both growing up of the importance of having voices that complement each other in a group/duo act. "Don’t Waste Your Heart" is such a dynamic song in the way that the single vocal transitions in to three-part harmonies at the top of the chorus and creates a true moment. The undeniable heart and angst in Natalie's lead vocal also really sets it over the top. We strive to create moments like that in every piece of music we record.

"Sin Wagon"

Mickey Guyton: Personally, when that song came out, I was quite young. "Mattress dancin'" was a new term for me. But what I love about this song is the fact that they were singing their truth. No one is perfect. We all have our vices. And they sang about it in this song proudly. I just loved them, and they were an amazing addition to all the amazing women I loved listening to growing up. In today's environment, however, I can tell you that they mean the world to me. The Dixie Chicks inspire me to live my truth. They were living their truth when it wasn’t necessarily the cool thing to do. They were standing for what they believed in when it was looked down upon. Today, I think that is badass, and I wish I understood the importance of what they were doing back then.

This album was about grown-ass women doing grown-ass things and dealing with grown-ass problems. People want real, and that is why they will always influence modern music. They were real. They said what everyone else was thinking.

"This album was about grown-ass women doing grown-ass things and dealing with grown-ass problems. People want real, and that is why they will always influence modern music. They were real. They said what everyone else was thinking."

"Without You"

Jenna Paulette: The Dixie Chicks have always been a huge inspiration for me. Being from Texas, I felt they were telling every Western girl's story. They were the voice of the country music I fell in love with. I know every word to the Fly album, I remember singing "Without You" at the top of my lungs in the middle of my favorite creek at our ranch and feeling like I had been through what they were singing about even though I was wayyy to young to know that kind of heartbreak. That album, top to bottom is one of the greatest country albums ever, it still challenges me to be a better artist and create music that resonates with people like it did with me.

"Some Days You Gotta Dance"

Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum: This song always puts a smile on my face and immediately makes want to dance. Several years after it was released, I remember singing this song on Nashville’s Lower Broadway making everyone in the bar do the same!

"Hole in My Head"

Aubrie Sellers: The Dixie Chicks made a career out of being daring. Fly as a whole was a dynamic statement of independence, pairing great songs with gutsy performances. Here were three women who weren’t afraid to grind some gears and stick up for what they believe in at a time when it wasn’t as trendy. Covering a song like "Hole in My Head" was a shake-up in a genre that sorely needed them, and for girls like myself growing up at the time, it was a battle cry to live a little louder and embrace your rough edges. Their affinity for great songs is what always kept me coming back for more, and this one was written by one of my all-time favorites Buddy Miller, the king of raw soul and unaffected songwriting. 

"Heartbreak Town"

James Barker of James Barker Band: I think there’s a whole generation of writers and artists in Nashville that were raised on this album in its entirety. The Dixie Chicks did such a great job of blending their musicianship with deep, but still very country, lyrics. They didn’t shy away from speaking about the negative sides of any situation, and this song specifically speaks about the down side to chasing your creative dream. It’s funny, because when I went back and listened to this song, after not hearing it for probably 10 years, it really opened my eyes. It was a bit of a "holy crap, that’s heavy" moment. Their portal of emotion is bang-on.

"Let Him Fly"

Jamie Lin Wilson: I got a guitar Christmas of 2000 after watching the Dixie Chicks' Houston show on the Fly tour. My cousin and I bought tickets on a whim, and a few weeks later she gave me my first instrument. To say this record had a profound influence on my life is an understatement. I sat in my room and learned every song I could in the key of D, since those were the only chords I knew. "Let Him Fly" is in the key of D. I remember sitting there, figuring out that picking part in the beginning, feeling like I had figured out a new language. I could play music. I never looked back. The songs of the Dixie Chicks inspired girls all over the world to pick up a guitar, to sing, to use our voices and be heard. I’m sure I would have found my way here eventually, but I’m so glad I made that drive to Houston that night.

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Crosby, Stills & Nash
Crosby, Stills & Nash in 1970

Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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5 Things You Didn't Know About 'Crosby, Stills & Nash': The Folk-Rock Classic At 55

Featuring classics including "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes," "Wooden Ships" and "Helplessly Hoping," Crosby, Stills and Nash's self-titled 1969 debut album is the ultimate entryway to the folk-rock supergroup. Here are five lesser-known facts about its making.

GRAMMYs/May 29, 2024 - 01:33 pm

They'd been on ice since 2015, yet the death of David Crosby in 2023 forever broke up one of the greatest supergroups we'll ever know.

Which means Crosby, Stills & Nash's five-decade career is now capped; there's no reunion without that essential, democratic triangle. (Or quadrangle, when Neil Young was involved.) "This group is like juggling four bottles of nitroglycerine," Crosby once quipped. Replied Stephen Stills, "Yeah — if you drop one, everything goes up in smoke."

Looking back on that strange, turbulent, transcendent career, one fact leaps out: there's no better entryway to the group than their 1969 debut, Crosby, Stills & Nash, which turns 55 this year. Not even its gorgeous 1970 follow-up, Déjà Vu — which featured a few songs with one singer and not the others — their sublimation was about to blow apart, leaving shards to fitfully reassemble through the years. (The Stills-Young Band, anyone? How about the Crosby-Nash gigs?)

Pull out your dusty old LP of Crosby Stills & Nash, and look in the eyes of the three artists sitting on a beat-up couch in their s—kickers. The drugs weren't yet unmanageable; any real drama was years, or decades away. Do they see their infamous 1974 "doom tour"? The album cover with hot dogs on the moon? That discordant, Crosby-sabotaged "Silent Night" in front of the Obamas (which happened to be the trio's last public performance)?

At the time of their debut, the three radiated unity, harmony and boundless promise — and classic Crosby, Stills & Nash cuts like "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" bottled it for our enjoyment forever. Here are five things you may not know about this bona fide folk-rock classic.

There Was Panic Over The Cover Photo

As silly as it seems today — nobody's going to visually mistake Crosby for Stills, or Stills for Nash — that the three were photographed out of order prompted a brief fire alarm.

"We were panicked about it: 'How could you have Crosby's name over Graham Nash?'" Ron Stone of the Geffen-Roberts company recalled in David Browne's indispensable book Crosby, Stills, Nash And Young: The Wild, Definitive Saga Of Rock's Definitive Supergroup. (The explanation: it was still in flux whether they were going to be "Stills, Crosby & Nash" instead.)

The trio actually returned to the site of the photograph to reshoot the cover, but by that time, that decrepit old house on Palm Avenue in West Hollywood had been torn down. (It's a parking lot today, in case you'd like to drag a sofa out there.)

It Could Have Been A Double Album

At one point during Crosby, Stills & Nash's gestation, the idea was floated to render it a double album — one acoustic, one electric.

"Stephen was pushing them to do a rock-and-roll record instead of a folk album because he was the electric guy," session drummer Dallas Taylor said, according to Browne's book. "He wanted to play." (Back in the Buffalo Springfield, Stills and Young would engage in string-popping guitar duels on songs like "Bluebird," foreshadowing Young's impending electric workouts with Crazy Horse.)

Happily, the finished product blended both the band's electric and acoustic impulses; rockers like "Long Time Gone" happily snuggled up to acoustic meditations like "Guinnevere" sans friction.

Famous Friends Were Soaking Up The Sessions

As Browne notes, there was a "no outsiders decree" as this exciting triangulation of Buffalo Springfield, Hollies and Byrds members was secretly forged.

But rock royalty was in and out: at one point, Atlantic Records co-founder Ahmet Ertegun rolled up in a limo with an "eerily quiet" Phil Spector. Joni Mitchell, Cass Elliott, and Judy Collins also turned up — and, yes, Judy Collins, Stills' recent ex, was the namesake for the epochal "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes."

"It started out as a long narrative poem about my relationship with Judy Collins," Stills said in 1991. "It poured out of me over many months and filled several notebooks." (The "Thursdays and Saturdays" line refers to her therapy visits. "Stephen didn't like therapy and New York," Collins said in the book, "and I was in both.")

"Long Time Gone" Almost Didn't Make It On The Album

Crosby's probing rocker "Long Time Gone" meant a lot to him. He'd less written than channeled it from the ether, immediately after the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.

"It wasn't just about Bobby," he told Browne in the book. "He was the penultimate trigger. We lost John Kennedy and Martin Luther King, and then we lost Bobby. It was discouraging, to say the least. The song was very organic. I didn't plan it. It just came out that way."

It was always considered for Crosby, Stills & Nash, but it was proving hard to capture it in the studio. It might have died on the vine had Stills not sent Crosby and Nash home so he could work on the arrangement — which took an all-nighter to get right.

When he played the others his new arrangement, an exhilarated Crosby tossed back wine, and dove into the song "with a new, deeper tone," as Browne puts it — "almost as if he were underwater tone, almost as if he were underwater and struggling for air."

Ertegun Boosted The Voices — And Thank Goodness He Did

For all the prodigious, multilayered talent in Crosby, Stills & Nash, it's their voices that were at the forefront of their art — and should have always been.

However, the original mix had their voices relatively lower in the mix; Ertegun, correctly perceiving that their voices were the main attraction, ordered a remix, and thank goodness he did. The band initially pushed back, but as Stills admitted, "Ahmet signs our paychecks." As they say, the rest is history.

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