Carter Faith/ Julie Williams/ Nate Smith
Mason Goodson/ CMT/ Matthew Berinato

10 Country Acts Poised for a Breakout Year in 2023

2023 is already shaping up to be an exciting year for country music, with albums from country legend Shania Twain and chart-topping all-stars Luke Combs and Dierks Bentley on the way. But alongside those household names are rising stars poised to continue to make their mark on Music City. From 2023 CMT Next Women of Country class members to a sibling duo from Kentucky, here are 10 rising acts every country fan should keep an eye on this year.

Carter Faith

Carter Faith

Mason Goodson

North Carolina native Carter Faith follows up a busy 2022, which included her Grand Ole Opry debut, signing a music publishing deal with Universal Music Publishing Group Nashville and the release of her stellar breakup song "Already Crazy," with yet another accolade: she's among CMT's 2023 Next Women of Country Class, which boasts Kacey Musgraces, Maren Morris, Kelsea Ballerini, Lainey Wilson, Mickey Guyton and many more among its alumni.

Faith has amassed over 30 million streams with the breezy love song "Joyride" and the cowboy-rides-away anthem "Greener Pasture" and has plans for a yet-to-be-announced 2023 full-length debut album.

"I'm always thinking of what I'm gonna do tomorrow or what I'm gonna do five years from now," Faith told Wide Open Country last year. "I think that comes with being a creative and being a dreamer, but I'm really trying to stay in the moment that I'm in."

— Bobbie Jean Sawyer


Julie Williams

Julie Williams


Florida-raised Julie Williams follows in the tradition of country artists sharing deeply personal stories steeped in universal truths on "Southern Curls," in which she reflects on growing up as a mixed-race child in the south.

"Not all southern girls are met with open doors/ Some of us are looked down on before we're even born...I'm a southern girl with her own kind of southern curls," Williams sings.

"I'm writing my songs for the 10-year old girl who cries in the shower as she tries to detangle her hair and is afraid to look in the mirror because she hates what she sees; for the 20-year-old who is just now learning to love herself; for the new mom that wants her daughters and sons to love themselves as themselves and to hear music that celebrates them," Williams says. "That's who my songs are for."

Williams, a member of CMT's 2023 Next Women of Country class, will release her new single "Wrong Mr. Right" on Feb. 10. — BS

Pillbox Patti

Pillbox Patti

Alexa Kinigopoulos

Pillbox Patti (the alter ego of songwriter Nicolette Hayford) has been penning Nashville cuts (Ashley McBryde's "One Night Standards," Lainey Wilson's This One's Gonna Cost Me") for over a decade, but she made her artist debut last year with her unflinchingly bold and and vivid album Florida, an 8-song collection of tales of her upbringing in The Sunshine State. Pillbox Patti is also featured on Ashley McBryde's Grammy-nominated 2022 album Lindeville. — BS

Brittney Spencer

Brittney Spencer

Nicki Fletcher

Back in 2020, Brittney Spencer shared a cover of The Highwomen's "Crowded Table" that drew the attention of Maren Morris, Amanda Shires and many more. A little over a year later, Spencer was sharing the stage with the country supergroup and performing on the CMA Awards. Following a whirlwind couple of years, which included performing with Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit and opening for Willie Nelson, Maren Morris, Megan Thee Stallion and Brandi Carlile, Spencer won't be slowing down in 2023. The Baltimore native, who released her debut EP with Elektra, if i ever get there: a day at blackbird studio, in November, is set to release her debut full-length album this year. -- BS

O.N.E the Duo

For O.N.E the duo, Tekitha and Prana Supreme, music has always been the family business. (Prana Supreme is the daughter of RZA, the founder of Wu-Tang Clan and Tekitha was a featured vocalist of Wu-Tang Clan and performed on the hit album Wu-Tang Forever.) Citing Chris Stapleton, Fleetwood Mac and The Judds among their influences, the mother-daughter duo blends hip-hop and country for a rootsy sound steeped in blood harmonies.

"Growing up, my mom used to host these big jam session parties at our house," Prana Supreme said in a press release. "It was probably one of the highlights of my childhood, getting to hang out with all these singers, musicians, rappers, poets, etc. Usually, at these jams, Mom and I would freestyle a song together — and it was the morning after one of these jam parties that the idea of us singing and writing our own songs together came to my mind."

Listen to "Stuck in the Middle" here— BS


Ben Burgess

Press shot from 2022 of Ben Burgess

Chris Hornbuckle

Ben Burgess has co-written songs cut by an eclectic range of acts, from Tyler Rich ("The Difference") and Pat Green ("Drinkin' Days") to the Jonas Brothers ("Chillin' in the Summertime") and Lil' Wayne ("Dreams"). Since signing with Big Loud Records in 2020, he's followed the same path as Mel Tillis, Willie Nelson, Chris Stapleton and the dozens of country artists to transition from songwriter for the stars to star in their own right.

"I'd given up on the dream of being an artist," Burgess told Holler about his slow climb to solo prominence. "I always wanted to do it and felt like I could, but the pieces never aligned. I never had the right song with the right team. So I was like, 'Screw it! I'm just going to put out great songs'. And I became addicted to it."

Debut album Tears the Size of Texas arrived on Sept. 30, 2022 and upped the exposure of its breakthrough title track. As of early January, the song's numbers on Spotify sit just south of a million— a staggering statistic for a relative newcomer. Additional streaming hits "Sick and Tired" and "Heartbreak" cast Burgess as someone capable of following Luke Combs and Jon Pardi's bootsteps through a healthy blend of traditional country storytelling chops and stadium show ambition.— Bobby Moore

Mya Byrne

Press shot of Mya Byrne from 2022.

Lauren Tabak

Mya Byrne's spot in the Americana and alt-country space got a signal boost in 2022 when she signed to Kill Rock Stars (KRS) Nashville— a new extension of the DIY label that brought us the late indie-folk icon Elliott Smith as well as Unwound (not a George Strait cover band, for better or worse), Bratmobile, Bikini Kill and other acts that challenged socio-political norms.

"I believe in [label co-founder] Slim Moon and all the work KRS has historically done to support the cutting edge of music," Byrne shared in a press release. "To have been asked to be the very first artist to release on Kill Rock Stars Nashville both is an honor and demonstrates their commitment to trans women and other marginalized artists being firmly centered in Nashville, in the Americana and country community."

As for what to expect in the new year, Byrne's Rhinestone Tomboy (out April 28) will mark the first physical release by KRS Nashville. The Aaron Lee Tasjan produced album includes a promise for brighter days in "Autumn Sun" and another sip from a glass half-full titled "It Don't Fade." — BM

Ashley Cooke

Press shot of Ashley Cooke from 2022

Brayln Kelly

Few rising acts made larger professional strides in 2022 than Ashley Cooke.

"This year has been nothing short of a whirlwind. I inked my first deals, played bucket list stages, went on four major tours and a country-wide radio tour, met thousands of new people and even a few of my heroes, fell in and out of love and spent more nights sleeping on a van bench than in my bed," shared Cooke in a press release for her appropriately-titled song "It's Been a Year." "It held some good, some bad and some of the greatest moments of my life so far— and I wouldn't trade a single minute of the last 365 days. Thank you all for being on this journey with me and cheers to many more."

A country radio breakthrough in Brett Young duet "Never Til Now," a national TV appearance on The Bachelorette and a Grand Ole Opry debut top Cooke's list of 2022 milestones.

This roundup considers the future, though, and Cooke's is bright. She begins 2023 with her first overseas dates as part of the UK's Country 2 Country (C2C) festival and will join Young for 16 tour stops across the US. And hopefully, the recent influx of new songs, such as the stellar "Running Back," pays off by December with an album.— BM

Nate Smith

Press shot from 2022 of Nate Smith

Matthew Berinato

Nate Smith's first stint in Nashville ended with him heading back to California for a 13-year career as a nurse assistant.

After the 2018 Camp Fire decimated the singer-songwriter's hometown of Paradise, Cal. and destroyed all of his belongings, he coped by writing "Wildfire." The song landed Smith a publishing deal and spawned several TikTok hits, namely "Whiskey on You" and "I Don't Wanna Go to Heaven." His path from feeling overlooked in country music to being as in demand as any up-and-comer will culminate on Feb. 17 with a self-titled debut album.

"Now, I have a clear vision about why I do music," Smith told Songwriter Universe about his triumphant return to Music City. "Now my whole thing is that I want to help people. I want to make music that can touch hearts and make a difference in people's lives. Still overall, my first experience in Nashville was good, because it gave me the foundation of co-writing and networking. So I think it was a good introduction to Nashville."— BM

Kentucky Gentlemen

Press shot from 2022 of Kentucky Gentlemen

Laura Moll

As The Kentucky Gentlemen, twins Brandon and Derek Campbell have the potential join the rich lineage of sibling acts that've reimagined the vocal stylings of roots music— a timeline that spans from the Stanley Brothers to the McCrary Sisters.

Though they've nailed revved-up twang ("Lose My Boots") and country- R&B crossover ("Whatever You're Up For") approaches, the Campbell siblings stand out the most when they're smooth-voiced cowboy Casanovas. For examples of the latter, check out the sunshiny "Vibin'" or the equally swoon-worthy "Love Language."

Like other artists on Black Opry bills, The Kentucky Gentlemen bring much-needed diversity —as both Black and gay artists— to country and Americana spaces.

"We understand the importance of where we're going and what that means to people like us," Derek shared for the band's bio. "We want to be the same folks that we wish we had always gotten to see on the main stage."— BM


READ MORE: Every Can't-Miss Country Music Tour Scheduled for 2023