Many new artists are sharing the popularity charts with America's veteran performers. VOA's Mary Morningstar tells us about a few that could become the next big thing in Country music.
Jason Michael Carroll addresses child abuse in his first single "Alyssa Lies." The Top 5 hit struck a chord with radio programmers and Country fans alike. The song propelled the debut of the 28-year-old singer's brand new album, Waitin' In The Country, to Number One.
As a child, Jason's talents were stifled by his father, a fundamentalist preacher, who didn't allow secular music to be played in their home. In 2004, Jason's mother encouraged him to enter a local singing competition. The following year, he was performing steadily in Nashville nightclubs. That led to an offer from RCA Records, which reports that the Top 10 entry of Waitin' In the Country on the Billboard 200 gives him the highest pop chart debut by a new male Country artist since Billy Ray Cyrus in 1992.
Like Jason Michael Carroll, newcomer Kellie Pickler dealt with a very emotional subject in her new hit, "I Wonder." Kellie co-wrote the song about her estranged mother, who left Kellie when she was only two years-old. The 20-year-old singer came to international attention as a finalist on last year's "American Idol" competition. Kellie placed sixth, which was good enough to secure a recording deal with BNA Records.
Tennessee native Chris Young's performance of his original song, "Drinkin' Me Lonely," clinched his popularity at the 2006 "Nashville Star" talent competition. He went on to win Country music's reality television competition and the grand prize signing with RCA Records. It's just been announced that Chris is an Academy of Country Music Award (ACM) nominee for Top New Male Vocalist.
Also earning a first-time ACM nomination is 19-year-old Ashley Monroe. Her duet, "I Don't Want To," with Brooks and Dunn's Ronnie Dunn is mentioned in the Vocal Event of the Year category. Ashley grew up near Knoxville, Tennessee. By the age of 11, she was performing five nights-a-week in a local show. Two years later, her father died of a sudden illness. Ashley says she worked through her grief by putting her emotions into her songs. Ashley wrote or co-wrote seven of the 11 songs on her self-titled debut album, including I Don't Want To.