The New York Country Swag team loves to support rising artists and introduce our followers to the best new music in the genre. Since our inception four years ago we have named rising stars like Russell Dickerson, Luke Combs, Brett Young, Jordan Davis, Mitchell Tenpenny, and Jimmie Allen as our Artists to Watch. Check out our picks in 2017, 2018, and 2019 before checking out the 10 artists we picked to have a huge 2020 below.
10. Parker McCollum – This Texas native may have just released his first song on a major label, “Pretty Heart” this past summer after signing with MCA Nashville/UMG Nashville but in the past, he has independently delivered two full-length projects. Focusing on the depth and artistry behind songwriting, McCollum has found a clever balance between traditional Texas country and what is coming out of modern Nashville. We are looking forward to more new music in 2020 and to catch a live show.
For Fans Of: Cody Johnson, Riley Green
Listen: “Pretty Heart”
Stay Connected: @ParkerMcCollum
9. Madison Kozak – Growing up in Ontario but moving to Nashville when she was only 14 years old, Kozak has been chasing the music dream, honing in on her incredible ability to write a song that is filled with emotions for years. We first heard of the songstress in May we were instantly hooked and since then 2019 was a whirlwind for the budding star, signing a record deal as the flagship artist on a female-driven label, Songs & Daughters and touring the country on three different tours. Label head, Nicolle Galyon in partnership with Big Loud Records saw something special in this songwriter artist after hearing “First Last Name”, a song she wrote for her father and ever since has been releasing exceptional songs. She kicks off the new year by heading overseas to tour with Chase Rice.
For Fans Of: Kelsea Ballerini, Carrie Underwood
Listen: “OMG ILY”
Stay Connected: @Madison_Kozak
8. King Calaway – Last January we were introduced to a brand new band comprised of six talented musicians from different places, Caleb Miller (Ohio), Chris Deaton (Nashville), Simon Dumas (Gibraltar), Jordan Harvey (Scotland), Chad Michael Jervis (Delaware), and Austin Luther (Minnesota). One of the very first time they played for fans before their music was released, King Calaway performed a showcase with NYCountry Swag in New York City and all in attendance were blown away. Their impeccable harmonies, catchy tunes, and larger than life personalities have since caught the attention of country music fans across the nation. Their debut record, Rivers features 12 tracks written by some of Nashville’s biggest songwriters and covers an array of topics.
For Fans Of: One Direction, Rascal Flatts
Stay Connected: @KingCalaway
7. Chris Bandi – When a song is streamed 60 million times, you know there is something special about it. St. Louis native, Nashville based artist and songwriter Chris Bandi is pushing his major-label debut, “Man Enough Now” to country radio this year and the tale rings true of realizing your mistakes, owning them and hoping for a second chance. Bandi will hit the road with Matt Stell in the upcoming months and sources say plans to release an EP as well.
For Fans Of: Gavin DeGraw, Chris Lane
Listen: “Man Enough Now”
Stay Connected: @ChrisBandi
6. Ingrid Andress – We first caught songwriter/artist Ingrid Andress last February during an NYC showcase right after she was signed to Warner Music Nashville/Atlantic Records and her unique presence, storytelling ability, and hilarious realness caught our attention immediately. With songs like “More Hearts Than Mine”, “Both”, and “Lady Like”, Andress pushes the boundaries of topics usually discussed in the country format, forcing new followers to pay attention. She was named one of CRS New Faces for the class of 2020, a prestigious honor and she joins Dan + Shay on the first leg of their arena tour in 2020.
For Fans Of: Kacey Musgraves, Ashley McBryde
Listen: “More Hearts Than Mine”
Stay Connected: @IngridAndress
5. Ross Ellis – Although a bit more undiscovered than the rest of our list, Ross Ellis has a powerhouse, unique voice and his latest single “Buy and Buy” is compelling and begs for repeat spins. By weaving a powerful visual of religion, addiction, and wasted time, “Buy and Buy” is as profound as it is innovative. As a songwriter, Ellis co-wrote one of Tim McGraw’s latest singles, “Neon Church” and a song on Home Free’s new album, Dive Bar Saints called “Dreamer” but in 2020 we hope to hear new songs from Ellis as we continue to champion rising artists and songwriters like him.
For Fans Of: Brett Young, Dan + Shay
Listen: “Buy and Buy”
Stay Connected: @RossEllisMusic
4. Avenue Beat – Our most unique, fresh, and different act on this year’s Artists to Watch is Avenue Beat. Comprised of three girls from Illinois, Sami Bearden, Savana Santos, and Sam Backoff they are original and their creative new wave country is as endearing as it is inventive. Their harmonies, melodies, and frankly genius lyrics are relatable to a niche of young women that are thirsty for someone to sing about what they are going through. Signed to Big Machine Label Group’s Valory Music Co. in partnership with Tape Room Records they released their debut self-titled EP in July and toured with Mason Ramsey in 2019. If you are looking for some sass with a side of sensational lyrics, look no further than Avenue Beat.
For Fans Of: Walker Hayes, Kelsea Ballerini
Listen: “Be A Bro”
Stay Connected: @AvenueBeat
3. Jameson Rodgers – Last February we interviewed Jameson Rodgers for our Swag Spotlight feature, right after he released his EP which featured his break out hit, “Some Girls”. This Mississippi native is now planted firmly in Nashville, writing and creating music as a Sony Music Nashville artist and has toured with Luke Combs on his Beer Never Broke My Heart tour and just announced that in 2020 he will embark on his very first headlining tour. Relatable lyrics that are set to a modern-day twang, Rodgers has already garnered a ton of fans and hopefully the new year we can expect a full-length album.
For Fans Of: Jon Pardi, Luke Combs
Listen: “Some Girls”
Stay Connected: @JamesonRodgers
2. Gabby Barrett – She may have become a household name because of her stint on American Idol but Gabby Barrett is showing Nashville and the country music community that women want to hear a female write a song from her own perspective. Her debut radio single, “I Hope” not only features her sultry voice but has a twist in the chorus that will make men and women fall in love with her honest take on a bad breakup. Having toured with Chris Lane, Barrett is already included in major festival line ups including Stagecoach, Tortuga, and New York’s own TrailBlazer.
For Fans Of: Maren Morris, Lauren Alaina
Listen: “I Hope”
Stay Connected: @GabbyBarrett_
1. HARDY – Already having a huge break out year in 2019, HARDY celebrated four number one songs as a songwriter, “God’s Country”, “I Don’t Know About You”, “Simple”, and “Up Down”. He also released one of the most prolific albums of the year, HIXTAPE Vol. 1 which features 17 different artists, all singing about growing up in a small town. Emerging as an artist, HARDY has created a persona that makes you envy his Mississippi upbringing, making ‘redneck’ cool. In October we caught his sold-out headlining NYC show and just announced, the songwriter and artist will join Cole Swindell and Thomas Rhett on the Center Point Road tour which will make it’s away across the country this summer.
For Fans Of: Morgan Wallen, Florida Georgia Line
Listen: “One Beer”
Stay Connected: @HARDY
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