CMA Festival’s Rising Stars

Music Mix daily Staff


Last month’s CMA Music Festival was a resounding success. From the biggest names in Country Music to total newcomers, Nashville was transformed into a country music lover’s paradise. With headliners like Brad Paisley, Keith Urban and Little Big Town, it can be easy to forget about all the fantastic new talent that the festival draws in. That’s why we want to share some details on the less-known and less experienced names at the festival. These six musicians impressed us so much that we honestly believe it won’t be long they are household names, too. Without further ado, let’s get started:

  1. Chris Janson



Image 1 - Chris Janson

Missouri born Chris Janson is no stranger to the CMA Fest, but he would never have made it to the scene without a hit like Buy Me a Boat under his belt. Even more impressive is the fact that the song debuted while Chris was still a relatively unknown (and unsigned) musician! Of course, the early successes of the song quickly led him to a record deal and also the amazing opportunity to play on Toby Keith’s summer tour. With such accomplishments, the singer was clearly having a great time and really pulled out all the shots as he performed on the Bud Light Plaza Stage. He managed to belt out the tunes, show off his harmonica skills, and still remain absolutely adorable. We bet he’ll return next year, looking better than ever on an even bigger stage!

  1. Dean Alexander


Image 2 - Dean Alexander

Dean Alexander comes from some unique beginnings: he scored his first music deal after working as a landscaper for Roy Orbison’s wife, Barbara. With such a random and fantastic opportunity, Dean has never looked back. The singer moved to Nashville, where he plays regularly. After his debut single, Live a Little, was released in 2014, his next big break was playing at the CMA Music Festival. The singer has been compared to Dwight Yoakam and and Chris Isaak, and it looks like he should have no trouble getting the fame and fortune those two have brought in, if he just keeps at it – in the most recent news it seems like he’s got tour dates with the country superstar Rascal Flats. With his genuine and sweet character and performances, let’s just hope the singer-songwriter doesn’t stop writing new jams any time soon!

  1. Kelsea Ballerini


Image 3 - Kelsea Ballerini

Born in Tennessee and signed to a label by age 19, Kelsea Ballerini was on top of her game at her first CMA Music Festival (as a performer). Playing to a crowd of 4,000 people on the Bud Light Stage, she even had the pleasure of sharing that her hit single, Love Me Like You Mean It, had risen to Number 3 on the Country Airplay Chart. At just 21 years old, Kelsea’s set was striking and her demeanor with fans sweet and beautiful. She even hosted her own Fan Club Party during the Fest! With her newfound success, we have no doubt that we’ll be hearing from Kelsea again soon.

  1. Brothers Osborne


Image 4 - Brothers Osborne

While you may have heard of The Osborne Brothers, chances are you’ve yet to hear of Brothers Osborne. Hailing from Maryland, the duo, consisting of, you guessed it, two brothers, moved to Nashville to pursue music in the 2000’s. With T.J. Osborne singing and John Osborne playing lead guitar, the Brothers Osborne see their music as an injection of substance into the country music scene, which they feel is becoming overly bland and pop-oriented. This year, the Brothers played the CMA Music Festival to great success and, while 2015 was not their first time performing at the Fest, they show certainly had a different feel. We think it is because the Brothers, who had just finished up a major tour with Eric Church (and just started another with Darius Rucker) had definitely improved their stage presence. As they keep playing with the big names, we just hope they don’t lose their edgy attitudes!

  1. Leslie Cours Mathers


Image 5 - Leslie Cours Mathers

Leslie Cours Mathers doesn’t seem like your typical country musician. Born in Singapore to a US Army family, she certainly doesn’t have physical roots in Nashville. Yet, she did spend a portion of her life living in the country-oriented city, and was inspired to write an album about her identity called Countrified. In her own words, the album and its title track speak to the person “with country roots who lives a big city life.” Leslie played the hit on the Chevy Roadhouse Stage to great applause. With the festival’s showcasing of the new singer, Leslie is even more excited to get out and share the album! She is the definite underdog, even on this list of relatively new and unknown artists. But, with her special perspective and serious focus on her music, Leslie deserves the positive attention she’s been getting since the Festival!

  1. Sam Hunt


Image 6 - Sam Hunt

Today, you can’t turn on Country radio without hearing Sam Hunt’s hit single “Take Your Time.” Quickly becoming known for his country-pop tunes, Hunt has only been on the scene for two years. Born in Georgia, Sam was a football player on his school and university teams. Unable to commit to football due to injuries,  he picked up the acoustic guitar! Still new to the scene, the CMA Music Festival recognized Sam’s talent and success, giving the newcomer a spot on the biggest stage (LP Field). The stage, which brings in around 50,000 fans, was the singer’s largest crowd to-date. He belted out his hits, including “Leave the Night On” and “Take Your Time” to an ecstatic fan base. Though there may be no larger stage to shoot for at the next CMA Fest, we have no doubts that the chiseled musician be back again next year!

All of these artists come from completely unique backgrounds and played at  CMA Music Festival  2015 on different stages, with varying degrees of success. Sure, it is unlikely that they will all be able to blow up to superstar success over the next few years, but each and every one of them has inside of them a talent worth celebrating. We will be following them, and sure hope to see them belt it out yet again at CMA Music Festival 2016!