At the start of 2007, many critics predicted Jason Michael Carroll could become the next big thing in Country music. As VOA's Mary Morningstar reports, the 28-year-old father of four is proving them right.

Jason Michael Carroll says he was inspired to write his breakthrough hit, "Alyssa Lies," after seeing child abuse reports on the news. The first single from his debut album, Waitin' In The Country, reached the Top 5 on Billboard's Country chart, and set a record as the fastest-rising debut single by a male Country artist in 2006.

Jason was born in Texas, and grew up in Franklin County, North Carolina. His father was a fundamentalist preacher, who didn't allow secular music in the family's home. But, Jason was able to listen to pop and Country music while working at an automotive shop. His first taste of performing was in a radio station's karaoke competition. He won the singing contest, which led to an invitation to join a local Country band. After the group fell apart, Jason gained more regional exposure by winning a televised talent show.

Jason earned a gold record for selling 500,000 copies of Waitin' In The Country. The album's Number One debut on the Country chart was the highest entry by a new male Country singer since Billy Ray Cyrus in 1992. Jason was also named Billboard's Number One new male Country artist of 2007.

He wrote or co-wrote five of the tracks on Waitin' In The Country.  He also recorded songs by Nashville hitmakers Jeffrey Steele, Casey Beathard, Craig Wiseman, and pop-turned Country singer Jewel, who duets with Jason on "No Good In Goodbye."

Last year, Jason attracted thousands of new fans as the supporting act on Alan Jackson and Brooks and Dunn's co-headlining tour. Next month, he'll head back out on the road to open shows for Country star Trace Adkins. Jason is also among the up-and-coming stars scheduled to perform at the Country Radio Seminar's New Faces Show in March.