Social media sensation turned country music rising star, Kaleb Austin received a surprise of a lifetime at the inaugural Country Now Awards on Wednesday (Dec. 8). After Lily Rose revealed Austin as the winner, the Utah native was brought to tears by country music hitmaker Travis Tritt who surprised him with the exciting news of his first award win.
The grand appearance from Tritt does not come as a surprise, as Austin often covers Tritt’s hits as well as other chart-topping country songs. Therefore, the icon jumped on the opportunity to acknowledge his head-turning renditions and to encourage the breakthrough star to keep his eye on the prize.
“Hi Kaleb, it’s Travis Tritt,” shared the singer in a virtual message. “I’m here today to tell you that you are the winner of Favorite TikTok Artist for the Country Now Awards – Congratulations.”
Austin’s spouse Cheyenne was in on the plan and made the memorable milestone one he would never forget. The loving wife sat the budding singer down in front of a flat screen computer and pressed play. Once Austin wrapped his head around the pinch-me-moment – his eyes filled with tears, and he gasped in complete shock.
“I heard that you actually do some of my songs on TikTok,” The “I’m Gonna Be Somebody” artist continued. “I think that’s pretty cool! Best of luck in all your future endeavors. Keep chasing your dreams,” he concluded.
With his jaw still on the floor, he pushed back in his chair all choked up with emotions. While finding the right words to describe how he feels after the shocking surprise, his wife asked, ‘what do you think?’ As he wiped his eyes dry, he expressed his gratitude for the prestigious honor. “I’m beyond grateful. This is the coolest thing ever. We did it, baby! Thank you so much.”
Following the virtual visit from Tritt, Austin gathered himself together and addressed his fans. “I just wanted to say thank you so much to Country Now for putting this award show on and letting me be a part of it,” says the titleholder smiling ear to ear. “I was honestly speechless when I heard Travis Tritt announcing my name as the winner, which is so cool. I also want to give a huge shout-out to my wife [Cheyenne] and my TikTok family [KAmpfire]. Of course, I couldn’t be doing this without you guys. So, thank y’all so much. I love you.”
Although the country singer-songwriter seemed stunned by the great honor, country music fans never doubted the driven go-getter. Austin caught the musical bug early on in life, as he picked up a guitar for the very first time at the age of 14. Similar to many other teenagers, he turned to songwriting to channel his emotions and started pulling from real-life experiences to curate vulnerable, yet relatable tracks.
It wasn’t long until the aspiring artist packed his bags to pursue his craft in Music City. During his time in Nashville, Austin rubbed elbows with elite songsmiths to build a sound and collection of his very own. Later in life, Austin was forced to rethink of career path to be a caretaker for his family and the fast rising singer returned to his home state of Utah. After returning to Utah, he dropped his self-penned debut single “Sound of the South.” Upon release, the country-rock ballad climbed to the top of the iTunes Country Chart and scored the No.1 spot. Within just two weeks, the twangy anthem garnered over 350,000 streams. The successful introduction was Austin’s launching pad to stardom as his social media numbers began to skyrocket.
Now, the hitmaker has a massive following on both TikTok and Instagram – leaving him with a devoted fan base of nearly 1 million. The musician released “Sun Goes Down” and “Turn the Night On” to keep up the positive momentum and his community engaged.
Next month, Austin is set to release his fourth single, “Cheyenne,” which is a tribute to his wife. The song is available for pre-order now HERE.
While he continues to share chilling country covers, he is gearing up for the release of his EP in early 2022.
The Inaugural Country Now Awards streamed on Wednesday, December 8. The winners in the 14 categories were determined by fan votes placed between November 15 and November 30 on CountryNow.com. Over 1.1 million total votes were cast.
Hosted by Country Now’s Lauren Black, the Country Now Awards featured special appearances by Brantley Gilbert, Carly Pearce, Chayce Beckham, Chelcie Lynn (a.k.a. Trailer Trash Tammy), Elle King, ERNEST, Jameson Rodgers, Jimmie Allen, Kaleb Austin, Katie Austin, Kierra Lewis, Lindsay Ell, Morgan Wallen, and Walker Hayes.
George Birge, HARDY, Jameson Rodgers, Jimmie Allen, Lainey Wilson, Restless Road and Lily Rose also performed.
The Country Now Awards live stream was in support of the Love Music. Stop Cancer. Campaign to raise awareness and support for kids with cancer and other catastrophic diseases at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital®. Visit musicgives.org to learn more about Love Music. Stop Cancer.