We asked 7 questions to 7 rising country music artists: Catherine McGrath, Tenille Arts, Lewis Brice, Levon, Ben Gallaher, Jenna Paulette, and Brown & Gray. From debut singles, to seasoned songwriters, these country artists are on the fast track to the top of the country music charts, and the top of your AppleMusic & Spotify playlists. Check out our Q&A’s with all 7 featured artists below!
1) Tenille Arts
Saskatchewan native Tenille Arts, is certainly a country music star on the rise. Her debut full length record Rebel Child was released in October 2017, in which Arts delivers incredibly pure and compelling vocals, a smooth and easy melody, and powerful lyrics which offer a genuinely relatable air for listeners. Most recently, Arts recorded “Time’s Up” with Nashville’s Song Suffragettes, following the widely publicized #TimesUp movement with other female singers and songwriters in Nashville. Arts’ latest single, “Moment of Weakness,” has been gaining immense recognition, and was performed on ABC’s The Bachelor in January. Arts also took home 5 awards at the SCMA awards in May, including Album of the Year and Female Artist of the Year.
- Could you describe your sound in 3 words? Country, edgy, real!
- What does country music mean to you? Everything! I love songwriting and creating new music. Country music has always been something the has helped me through life situations, so that’s what I try to do for others.
- You released your debut record, Rebel Child, last year, could you tell us about that record and what it means to you? I’m extremely proud of this album, and so thankful that I got to create it with amazing people. I love that I got to show many sides of who I am on one album. “Rebel Child” is a great way to get to know me and my music. It took a lot of hard work and years of writing to make this album so it means a lot to me!
- What has it been like for you working with the Song Suffragettes, and recording “Time’s Up”? The Song Suffragettes have been amazing to me and I’ve loved being apart of such a great group of women. They have given me a great platform to share my music with new people. “Time’s Up” was an important song with a great message so I’m thankful that I could record it and be in the music video!
- Could you describe your songwriting process for us? For me, inspiration comes from a lot of different places. I usually start with an idea and try to match the melody to how that idea makes me feel. I love to start songs and then take those ideas to some of my favorite writers to bring the rest of the song to life!
- What’s next for you in 2018? I just signed with Reviver Records in Nashville, so I’m really looking forward to getting a single out to country radio and getting out on the road to share my music with more people!
- We always like to end off with our favorite quote: “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” I feel like I’m already doing it! Choosing a music career is always a risk, but I love country music so much, that even if I fail, I know this is what I was meant to do.
Nashville natives Michael David Hall, Jake Singleton, Ryan Holladay, form the trio that is making waves in country music. Levon’s debut self-titled EP was released last year, and featured their feisty country radio hit, “Ms. Marianne.” Levon recently shared the stage with country legend Willie Nelson, and will be opening for Dwight Yoakam in the upcoming months as well. With such magnificent and striking harmonies, these three voices fuse into one incredibly dynamic and powerful sound that we cannot wait to hear more of.
- What does country music mean to you? Country to us is amazing story telling. It’s music that makes you feel something. Country music has the best crowds in the world and it’s an avenue for us to meet some of our biggest role models and inspirations in person.
- Could you describe your sound in 3 words? Harmony, soulful, intimate
- You released your debut self-titled EP last year, could you tell us more about these songs and what they mean to you? We chose the 5 songs on the EP to show our versatility, in both sound and in an emotional sense. It’s important for us in every show to provide a serious message as well as our humor and we feel the EP has both of those qualities.
- Following the success of your first EP, and the incredible radio reception of your single, “Ms. Marianne,” What are you most looking forward to in terms of what’s next for you as a band? Our first radio tour really showed us how amazing country radio is. We’re excited to go back to the places we visited on that tour and keep on developing our sound and story.
- What has been the most memorable moment or show in your career as a band so far? We got to go on stage with Willie Nelson in Florida. We sang the encore with him and that was an experience that was an incredible honor for a new band like us. It was also very emotional for all of us because those shows in Florida happened in the same month as the shooting. So it was an opportunity for us all to come together and try to heal as a group of country fans. That was a moment we’ll never forget.
- Is there anything exciting coming up on the horizon for you guys in 2018? We’re going to be releasing some new music very soon! We’re stoked about that. We’ve got some opening spots for Dwight Yoakam that we’re excited to announce, as well.
- We always like to end off with our favorite quote: “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” We would play the lottery, participate in Olympic cornhole, and enter the correct Netflix password.
3) Lewis Brice
Lewis Brice hails from South Carolina, and has a name that may sound familiar to country music fans. As the brother of seasoned country star, Lee Brice, Lewis has been no stranger to country, sharing the stage and working with numerous friends and family in the industry. By putting a hard rock spin on his deep country roots, Lewis creates a unique and edgy sound, and it’s no surprise that the country-rocker is on the fast track up the charts. Lewis released his debut self-titled EP on July 14th, 2017, which he and his brother produced together. His single “Best Ex Ever” has reached the Top 40 of MusicRow’s Country Breakout radio chart, and he currently has a lot more on the horizon for 2018.
- What does country music mean to you? Country music has a wide grasp.. it’s a very accepting genre when it comes to different types of sounds from old school country to pop and southern rock.. There are so many different new great artist and now we are seeing a growth in different types of country music… It is a great time to be involved.
- Could you describe your sound in 3 words? Accessible, progressive, rockin
- You released your debut self-titled EP last year, could you tell us more about those song and what they mean to you? The songs on my Ep released last July has songs that are inspired from what I’ve been through getting to where I currently am. The bars the breakups, the parties and new and old flames..
- With a lot of friends and family in country music, what are some of the most memorable or meaningful projects that you have collaborated on with them? Working in the studio and on the stage with friends and family is so fun.. It is great to create music with your people.. Whether you are the one to perform it or not.. it’s just as exciting sometimes when you’re able to watch someone else perform somthing you were a part of and watching the delivery and expectance. One of my favorite projects I’ve worked on has to be my first record my brother and I produced which we put out last year. Workin with Brian Bunn and a few others .. but definitely working with my brother has to be the best, especially when we get to jam “Alabama” (a song we wrote that’s on my current ep) together on stage. It’s electric.
- What is your ultimate goal that you aspire to reach as a singer/songwriter in country music? To make a Living doing what I love to do and that’s to play and write music.. and along the way maybe lift a few spirits, make a few laughs and have a lil fun.
- What’s next on the horizon for you in 2018? Building the touring schedule, sweet new music, just keep grinding to spread my music as far as I can.
- We always like to end off with our favorite quote: “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” I’d just keep doing what I do Or.. I’d climb my Everest ..
4) Catherine McGrath
Ireland native Catherine McGrath is proving to us all the country music roots lie deep worldwide. McGrath released her second EP Starting From Now in 2017, followed by singles “Talk of This Town,” about her move from Ireland to London for music, and her exceedingly relatable heartbreak hit, “Thought It Was Gonna Be Me.” McGrath’s debut full length record, Talk of This Town, is scheduled to be released on July 27th, 2018, featuring her effervescently catchy new single, “Wild.”
Could you describe your sound in 3 words? New country pop
What does country music mean to you? I fell in love with country music because of the lyrics and how they told stories, so for me it’s about telling honest stories through songs.
You’re releasing your debut record Talk Of This Town later this year, could you tell us about this album and what it means to you? It’s still crazy to me that I’m even able to say that I’m releasing my own album. I’ve spent two years now in studios, working with songwriters whose work I’ve admired since I was 12, and played shows with so many people I look up to, it’s been such a fun journey so to be able to release some of the songs I’ve worked on and share my journey with people is going to be amazing. I wrote on all of the songs on the album, some were written in Nashville and some in the UK! I can’t wait to share it.
Your new single “Wild” is available with the pre-order of the new album, could you describe the story behind this song and what you hope listeners take away from it? It’s about a guy who wasn’t over his ex yet and he took me to a coldplay concert that he was meant to go to with her. I went into the studio the next day and I wrote this song about that night and about how it felt to like somebody who was still with another girl in his head…
What has it been like for you working and writing in Nashville in comparison to the UK? It’s always a lot faster, the writers there write up to 3 songs every day, it’s insane. In the UK, the track itself is usually put together as we write, but in Nashville a lot of the time it’s just a guitar and lyrics and the production comes after that, I think that’s the main difference, but really it just depends on who you work with and what you’re feeling in that moment.
With your new single and your debut album on the horizon, what else is next for you in 2018? Festivals!! Can’t wait for lots of those over the summer. I always love playing music for people who haven’t heard it yet and getting to travel around and see new places.
We always like to end off with our favorite quote: “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” Fly.. but I would 100% not be able to fly so I won’t try that… haha
5) Brown & Gray
Texas born Kaci Brown and London native Sam Gray make up the country duo know as Brown & Gray. The pair is bridging the gap between the UK country music scene and the country music capitol of Nashville and creating something exceptional along the way. The duo’s debut single “Top Down,” was released last year and is already at the top of most summer 2018 country playlists. With a performance at Stagecoach coming up and more music coming out in the near future, expect to see a lot more of this duo this year.
- What does country music mean to you? Foundation. Freedom. Future. .. country music is a part of my (Kaci) foundation. It’s how I learned to communicate. It’s where my fantasies of love were planted and watered. It’s the background music to softball practice and camping on the lake in the summers with my dad. It’s the freedom to express myself, my present and my future. Fans of country music are all people that speak my love language. We’re already compatible. (Sam) Country music is Kaci. She’s an angel, and it’s opened a whole new world to me. Country music is also community. Nashville is incredible. I feel like an alien at times, but they’ve all been so warm.. like they’re welcoming me to my new home. (Kaci) It’s that southern hospitality, honey!
- Could you describe your sound in 3 words? Not a chance. Just kidding. Well thought out.
- You released your debut single, “Top Down,” last year, could you tell us about that song and what it means to you? “Top Down” was written with intent to get the bad vibes out. It was recorded with belief that you can just take a breather, shift perspective, turn up a tune, put down the top, and drive. Top Down, while a feel-good record, also reminds us to stay present, and what the responsibility of our presence looks and feels like.
- What do you feel the biggest differences were in working on a project that essentially merges the country music scenes of Nashville and the UK, and how would you compare the two? The heart of the music, regardless the scenes it may or may not be marketed in, is the same for us. Brown and Gray is a hybrid of professional experiences from two sides of the pond, and yet we couldn’t be more [creatively] alike. There are obvious structural differences in radio and licensing and royalty differences, but we don’t pay much attention to anything other than what we’re creating really. For this record, we’ve written in Nashville, London, and LA. We’ve recorded vocals and parts separately and have sent files back and forth. So I guess we we’re really only part of our scene while making our music. None of the other stuff matters. Any other differences are probably focused on at Notting Hill internally.
- What has been the most memorable moment or show in your career as a duo so far? Stagecoach was epic!! We’re looking forward to the Mane Stage and every stage we get to play on between now and then!
- What’s next on the horizon for you in 2018? We have a summer full of getting to play new music, and making new fans in every crowd. It’s a joy to share what we create, and meet the folks that dig it. The feedback is everything to us.. especially while we finish up the EP and album. #ThisIsTheStuff
- We always like to end off with our favorite quote: “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” We do it every day. We take chances on our dreams. We put our eggs in the basket. We’ve failed so many times. That’s not the scary part. The scary part isn’t trying.
6) Ben Gallaher
Ben Gallaher is a Pennsylvania native who’s debut self-titled debut EP was released on Sony Music Nashville last summer. The Eagle Scout transferred from Penn State University, to Nashville’s Belmont University where he graduated in May of 2014 with a degree in Entertainment Industry Studies. Gallaher is currently touring, writing, and spending time in the studio with new music and many more shows coming up in the next few months. His single “Against The World,” showcases Gallaher’s strong and raspy vocals, which mesh perfectly with his modern country sound and classic rock edge.
- What does country music mean to you? Country music is the soundtrack to real life. To me, it’s not about where you live, it’s a universal community built on stories about the realities of life, and most importantly, it’s about the loyal fans.
- Could you describe your sound in 3 words? Authentic, energetic, relatable.
- You released your debut self-titled EP last year, could you tell us a bit more about these songs and what they mean to you? Every song on my EP is a strong representation of who I am and where I come from. These 5 were chosen from more than 150 songs that I had written for this project with the hope of people relating to them.
- What has been the most memorable or meaningful moment or show in your career so far? Hearing my song on the radio, that’s a feeling that will never get old.
- What is your ultimate goal that you aspire to reach as a singer/songwriter in country music? My ultimate goal is to make a lasting positive impact on people who hear my music.
- Is there anything exciting coming up on the horizon for you in 2018? I’m going back into the studio in 2018 to complete my first full length record!
- We always like to end off with our favorite quote: “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” For me, there has never been a plan B. I’ve always believed that if you have a back-up plan, you’re already setting yourself up for failure.
7) Jenna Paulette
From her debut single, “Coolest Girl in the World,” and her latest hit, “Ilysm,” Jenna Paulette delivers catchy country hits with a pop edge. The Texas raised country girl lets her glam side show to create an upbeat modern country feel. The disco ball made from a horse riding saddle in her “Ilysm” music video perfectly describes Paulette’s western style with a sparkle. Her two debut singles have listeners ready to hear what’s next from Jenna Paulette.
- Could you describe your sound in 3 words? Country Western Pop
- What does country music mean to you? It the people’s music. It the music that hovers closest to real life, but still makes you feel high sometimes. I love that it glorifies the things I admire most (hard work, love, friendship, marriage, working through hard feelings). It has always been the thing that helps me process my own life.
- You released your debut single “Coolest Girl In the World” last year, and you recently followed it up with your latest single “ILYSM,” could you tell us about these songs and what they mean to you? Coolest Girl in the World is about how every mixtape I have ever gotten from a boy made me feel—like the Coolest Girl. Haha, I was always like, “Man, that song reminds him of ME?! Ok, I can be that!” ILYSM helped me put into words how I was feeling right before I got married. Just crazy about my husband who played basketball in college, hence the lyric “number 23 wanting your last name to be written on more than just the back.” And it’s a jam that makes me want to dance. I want to always be putting out music that makes me feel like that so that other people can feel that way too.
- Which artists and songs would you say have been your biggest inspiration? I grew up loving George Strait and the Dixie Chicks—so everything George represents as a man is what I grew up admiring in the men in my life. He is the romance of the cowboy. The Dixie Chicks sang songs that spoke to my favorite place in the world—our ranch. Songs like “Wide Open Spaces” and the feelings it gave me because of what I experienced in real life are what made me fall in love with country music. Beyond that I am influenced by pop and its sounds. My goal is to put all that together to find a balance between my country/western real life influence and the ever evolving landscape of pop music.
- What is your ultimate goal that you aspire to reach as a singer/songwriter in country music? I want to have number one singles at radio, and I want to be able to make a living touring! Then, because of all that, I’ll be able to have my own cow/calf operation at our ranch one day. 🙂
- What’s next for you in 2018? Another single, eventual EP and touring ASAP!!!
- We always like to end off with our favorite quote: “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” Become everything I know I can be as an artist and then find 3 other artists I believe in, and help them do the same.