12 Rising Female Stars Making Waves In Country Music

It’s no secret that making a name for yourself as a musician is a tough task to tackle. However, the industry has made it more difficult for women to step into the country music space. For several years, females within country music have been fighting for equal radio play. In fact, in 2020, leading names in the industry such as – Kacey Musgraves, Kelsea Ballerini, and Mickey Guyton took a stance after an “unwritten rule” among country radio stations came to their attention.

A Michigan radio station, WKCQ-FM, claimed on social media that they “cannot play two females back to back.” This sexist remark quickly made waves on social media, and trailblazers snapped back to support the women of country who have dedicated their livelihood to their craft.

“And yet, they can play 18 dudes who sound exactly the same back to back,” says Musgraves. “I’m really sorry that in 2020, after years of conversation of equal play, there are still some companies that make their stations play by these rules,” adds Ballerini on Twitter.

Following the incident, Mickey Guyton – who has become a driving force for change within the industry, spoke with the Associated Press about the struggles she has encountered as a female musician. “For the longest time, I was so scared to speak up because I was taught to fear losing the support of the industry, but you can’t lose what you don’t have,” shared the ‘Black Like Me’ singer. “The people who have felt underrepresented are thanking me for standing up for something that they have seen go on for a long time.”

While stations nationwide continue to share that the unspoken rule doesn’t exist today, statistics say otherwise. According to Jada Watson, a professor at the University of Ottawa who studies country music and gender, found that females have been silenced for several years. From 2000 to 2018, there was a 66 percent decline in the number of tracks by female musicians on country radio.

In the midst of the global pandemic, CMT decided to stand with the women of country and officially kicked off their 50/50 play commitment. After finding that 84 percent of country radio listeners wanted equal play for female artists, they instituted 50/50 play for female artists across CMT and CMT Music channels.

However, this is not the organization’s first rodeo when it comes to supporting women. Back in 2013, they launched their groundbreaking CMT Next Women of Country initiative. The prestigious list highlights signed and unsigned female singers-songwriters.

CMT continued to support the women climbing the ladder in Nashville, even when live music came to a sudden halt. Due to the negative repercussions of COVID-19, several creatives were left struggling to get their material noticed. Therefore, CMT inducted country newcomers such as Priscilla Block, Tenille Arts, Mackenzie Porter, and more into their CMT’s Next Women of Country 2021 class.

Although, several other breakthrough stars have crushed the music space during those extraordinary times. By using their voice to stand up for what they believe, utilizing the power of social media, and following in the footsteps of the women that paved the path before them – a select few have shifted the dynamic of music city and has scored high placement on Music Mayhem’s “must-watch” list of 2021.

Keep scrolling to see the 12 women that are making moves in country music.

Alana Springsteen

Alana Springsteen; Photo by Ana Cleary
Alana Springsteen; Photo by Ana Cleary

Virginia Beach native Alana Springsteen has had her eye on the honky-tonk town since she was 7-years-old. After several years of staying focused on her dream to become a country music songstress, Springsteen recently found success within the country music space with her vulnerable storytelling abilities. Springsteen tends to demand attention with her undeniable presence and addicting sound.

Her vocal range and passion-driven lyrics have scored her recognition, which offered her the opportunity to join forces with award-winning tunesmiths such as – Walker Hayes, Jerry Flowers, Jared Ray Keim, Tyler Filmore, and Andrew DeRoberts. Alongside her talented co-writers, she carefully crafted a seven-track collection that pairs well with a wine night in. History Of Breaking Up (Part One) brings music-goers on an emotional rollercoaster ride, as it delivers moving and relatable melodies about heartbreak, romance, and life as a young 20-year-old.

The diary-inspired EP is not the only career milestone that came her way in 2021, as she recently collaborated with Hayes to pen “Zero Trucks” and teamed up with Roman Alexander on “Trying Not To” as well as scored a spot on tour with one of her favorite groups, LANY, who she will join on their upcoming gg bb xx Tour.

Ashland Craft

Big Loud Records’ artist and South Carolina native Ashland Craft is making significant waves within the country music scene. The blonde powerhouse received her big break on NBC’s The Voice and created a loyal fan base with her gritty vocals that flawlessly blend with her country-rock sound. However, her love-drunk anthem “Two Wildflowers and A Box of Wine” in 2020 and debut release “Trainwreck” placed her on radars nationwide.

Her unique blend of rock and country brings a fresh new sound to music city, making her the next genre-bending artist you must watch out for. The fast rising songstress has already seen rapid success, as she joined HARDY on his fan-favorite track “SO CLOSE” off of his top-charting record, A ROCK. The captivating creative has opened for multi-platinum musicians such as Luke Combs, Morgan Wallen and is currently crushing the stage on Zac Brown Band’s The Comeback Tour 2021.

Additionally, the risk-taker recently released her free-spirited debut record, Travelin’ Kind, which immediately pulls listeners in and gives them an inside look into the artist she is and the type of performer she wants to become in the future.

Lily Rose

Emerging singer-songwriter, Lily Rose is Nashville’s hidden gem and innovative new talents. Rose arrived in Music City in 2017 but did not gain traction until the release of the toe-tapping anthem “Villain,” which quickly became a fan-favorite hit. The raw ballad created quite the stir on TikTok in 2020 and reached No. 1 on the iTunes all-genre chart, and became a standout on SiriusXM’s The Highway. It’s the way Rose challenges the boundaries of traditional country music with a dash of R&B, that makes this budding artist destined for stardom.

The Big Loud Records / Back Blocks Music and Republic Records artist has kept up the positive momentum by recently releasing, Stronger Than I Am. The seven-track collection highlights the type of artist Rose is at her very core. The breakthrough songstress is currently out on the road introducing concert-goers to a fresh take on country with party-like hip-hop beats. Tickets are now available to purchase.

Priscilla Block

If you are looking for an honest, authentic, and raw country singer-songwriter to uplift your day, Priscilla Block is your go-to girl!

Block is already a role model to many young females, as she utilizes her large platform to promote self-love, empowerment, and acceptance. Her unique balance of country-pop and southern rock allows Block to use the power of music to spread her positive message. Block was one of the very few artists who took advantage of quarantine to experiment with her sound, content creation, and to play with social media.

After sharing her wide vocal range with her unapologetic anthem “Thick Thighs,” which reminds all females to embrace their body on TikTok, the powerhouse vocalist became a music sensation overnight. Following shortly after, Block introduced “Just About Over You” to her loyal fan base. The breakup ballad climbed the iTunes Country and All Genre Songs Chart within just a few hours and is currently climbing the charts as it’s destined to soon become Block’s first No. 1 hit at radio. 

The newcomer is now selling out venues across the southeast and has already shared the stage with hitmakers such as Gabby Barrett, Adam Craig, Ashley McBryde, and Adam Doleac. Come November 21, the “Wish You Were The Whiskey” singer will be performing at Opry Next Stage concert alongside Tenille Townes, Travis Denning, Niko Moon, and more. Her debut Self-titled EP is available now to stream.

Brittney Spencer

Maryland native Brittney Spencer is the ultimate storytelling. It was 2013 when she broke into the industry, when she packed her bags and moved to Music City to follow her passion. When she first arrived to Nashville, she was one of many dreamers looking to land a life-altering gig. Lucky for her, award-winning musicians, Carrie Underwood and Christopher Cross came knocking on her door with a request to become a background singer out on tour.

In 2020, Spencer decided to take a career leap and focus on her own music. Her debut EP, Compassion – captured the attention of music enthusiasts, and she quickly became the go-to artist to work with. Most recently, she performed at the Grand Ole Opry, sang alongside The Highwomen, and was asked to join country music icon Reba McEntire on the road. Fans of the legendary artist will get to know the rising star and hear her latest single, “Sober & Skinny,” at her upcoming shows in February of 2022.

Ashley Cooke

If you are a TikTok user and a country music enthusiast, odds are you already know Ashley Cooke. The up-and-coming musician’s sense of drive and soulful country sound captured the attention of nearly a million social media users, but also notable names in the industry. However, it is also her entrepreneurial mindset that sets her apart from all the other dream-chasers in Music City.

While producing state-of-the-art music, she co-founded The 615 House, which connects aspiring country singers together. Within the last year, Cooke has worked closely with Roman Alexander on his romantic duet track “Between You & Me” and most recently penned her smash hit, “Good Goodbye,” alongside Blake Pendergrass. The moving lyrics and complicated notes encouraged the budding songstress to call in award-winning artist, Jimmie Allen. Allen’s buttery sound and Cooke’s lively vocal inflections generated cutting-edge harmonies.

Off the heels of her groundbreaking duet with the multi-platinum artist, she released her debut EP, Already Drank That Beet – Side A. The collection produced by Jimmy Robbins includes heartbreak ballads to joyous day drinking anthems. The country breakout star recently tested her new material out on tour with Breland and is gearing up to showcase her anthemic tunes on tour with Spencer Crandall later this month.

Alexandra Kay

Alexandra Kay turned to poetry as a young girl to channel her internal emotions. Her take on poetry slowly turned into songwriting as she got older. Before moving to Nashville, she lit up the St. Louis R&B and Hip-hop scene with genre-bending icon, Nelly. While working closely with the icon, she released her debut single, “No More.” The boot-tapping track quickly became a chart-topping hit and scored high placement on the New Music Top 40 pop chart, Hot AC, and Hot 100 roundup. While riding the high of her successful tune, she had a magnetic force pulling her back to her country roots.

While pursuing her passion for country, she generated a massive fan base of over 526,000 followers to date on Facebook, 126,000 followers on Instagram. She raked in 1.9 million TikTok users with her intriguing “Coffee Cover” series. Her short clips received recognition from Tim McGraw and Randy Travis for her angelic vocals. In addition to receiving recognition from McGraw and Travis, she also earned their support as both of the country icons have duetted and or responded to her videos on TikTok. Notably, the rising star even became close friends with Travis, who she says is one of her musical heroes.

Kay recently released her party-like anthem “Tall Boys,” which she has been testing out on the road on the In Real Life Tour with breakthrough stars Thomas Mac and Cooper Alan. The rising star just stepped away from the tour to get married to the love of her live-in Mt. Vernon, Illinois.

Mackenzie Porter

Big Loud Records Artist Mackenzie Porter has been rubbing elbows with Nashville’s elite since 2014. With a helping hand from songwriting mainstays like Nicolle Galyon, Craig Wiseman, Natalie Hemby, and Tommy English – the budding creative has learned how to carefully intertwine her love for traditional country with modern musical elements.

Her catching melodies and mesmerizing vocals have earned her a career-altering collaboration with award-winning artist, Dustin Lynch. Porter joined forces with Lynch to sing on his fan-favorite track “Thinking ‘Bout You,” which dominated country radio. Her own original music has scored her prestigious accolades. In fact, the powerhouse became the first female artist to have three back-to-back No. one singles at Canadian Country radio in 22 years with “About You,” “These Days,” and “Seeing Other People.”

Porter’s rare talent does not go unnoticed, as Kenny Chesney, Rascal Flatts, Chris Lane, Blake Shelton, and Dallas Smith have all asked her to join them out on tour. Porter recently released her official music video for country-pop banger, “UnlonelyMe.”

Tenille Arts

Reality TV-goers may remember Tenille Arts from her remarkable performance on ABC’s The Bachelor in 2018. Although Bachelor Nation provided the budding songstress with endless support, her happy-go-lucky tunes and relatable songwriting is what scored her a record deal with 19th & Grand Records. In 2019, she took her talents back to the Bachelor mansion to perform her single “I Hate This.” After her national TV appearance, the breakthrough star hit No. one on the U.S. and Canadian iTunes Country Charts.

In the middle of the pandemic, Arts released her 12-track collection Love, Heartbreak & Everything in Between. The up-tempo love-inspired record became a launching pad for the emerging artist, as her Taylor Swift-like storytelling landed her on the TODAY Show, the Grand Ole Opry Stage, CMT Awards, and even on Tour with LADY A.

The “Wide Open Spaces” songstress will be dropping her new album, Girl To Girl, come October 22.

Callista Clark

Callista Clark might be young, but she has taken on the country music space by storm. While pulling from female trailblazers such as Maren Morris, Jennifer Nettles, Tori Kelly, and Ingrid Andress – the 18-year-old breakthrough star has developed a sound of her very own to pen and record her debut EP, Real To Me.

Her latest release, “It’s ‘Cause I Am,” has millions of views across all social media platforms, which proves that the fierce storyteller can hold her very own in the cut-throat industry of music. The confidence that shines through the lyrics of her up-tempo ballad scored her on the prestigious “21 under 21” Billboard list, representing country music and a spot on Chris Young’s Famous Friends Tour.

Morgan Wade

Virginia native, Morgan Wade left her heart and soul on the writing-table when she created her Reckless 10-track record. Each ballad shares a story of her journey of becoming a country music artist during a transformative time. Wade recently made her country radio debut with her heartbreak ballad “Wilder Days,” where her captivating harmonies made the hit the second most added song upon release.

Since the groundbreaking release, the free-spirited musician has tackled the legendary Ryman Auditorium stage and embarked on her five-date tour with Lucero.

Tigirlily

Kendra and Krista Slaubaugh were born with the musical bug, as they were introduced to fine music from a very young age. The Chicks, Sugarland, and Rascal Flatts inspired the sister duo to hone in on their effortless harmonies and rich country sound. The Slaubaugh siblings quickly became known as the “Tigirlily” within the music industry, when they made their career-altering move from North Dakota to Nashville, TN. Upon arrival, the girls scored a residency at Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row on Broadway.

When the pandemic hit, Tigirlily took advantage of social media and created waves on TikTok with their hit single “Somebody Does.” Once the dynamic duo dropped the mid-tempo anthem, it soared to the top of the iTunes all-genre charts and has been streamed over two million times. With 528.6K followers, the budding stars were invited on the Bobby Bones Show, featured in Miranda Lambert’s “Tequila Does” remix video, and received the opportunity to open up for Kane Brown, Lee Brice, LeAnn Rimes, and Big and Rich.

The Monument Records musicians dropped their Self-titled EP, Tigirlily in the summer of 2021. The ladies that make up the powerful group are currently grinding in the studio to keep up the positive momentum.

About Tiffany Goldstein

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