While it's a blast guessing, debating and disagreeing from award category to award category, there's one group of nominees in particular that stands out above the rest.  It's not the Entertainer of the Year nominees, nor is it Album of the Year of Song of the Year.  It's the New Artist of the Year category.  I think it's big because it's the future of country music.  There are the new faces, new voices and new styles that get the full attention of the country music universe, both in attendance and at home watching.

Blow the room away and it'll launch you into the stratosphere.  But bomb and you may as well just pack your bags and head back to the farm.  Game over.  You've got one chance in that New Artist of the Year category to show us the goods.  Are you a one-and-done kind of artist, or are you here to stay?

What about 2014?  Who are the new faces at the 48th Annual CMA Awards November 5th on ABC and aired live on US 105.

 

There's Brandy Clark.  She's a singer/songwriter whose work you've surely heard.  She co-wrote Miranda Lambert's "Mama's Broken Heart" and the Band Perry's "Better Dig Two".  As far as her solo career goes, Clark's debut LP, 12 Stories, was released in October, 2013 and cracked the Top 25 on the US Country charts.

 

Then there's Brett Eldredge.  Although he's been co-writing for others and releasing the occasional single since 2010, his first big solo success came with the August, 2013 release of Bring You Back, spawning two #1 Country Airplay singles and a 3rd rising the charts.

 

 

 

The man with the difficult-to-pronounce last name, Cole Swindell, had a big year.  He's another new artist that cut his teeth in the world of songwriting.  He's co-written too many hit singles to squeeze in here, but "This is How We Roll", "Outta My Head" and "Roller Coaster" are a few that pop into my head.  With Cole Swindell, he finally stepped into the spotlight.

 

 

 

Kip Moore may have had success with his debut album, Up All Night, since 2012, he's up for New Artist of the Year at the 48th Annual CMA Awards.  It's almost unfair.  He's really hit his stride as a premiere name in country music.  That same debut album was the top-selling debut album by a male country artist in 2012 AND 2013.  Wow.

 

 

 

Thomas Rhett may be a nominee for New Artist of the Year, but he's got the bloodlines of country music stardom.  His dad introduced him to the world of country music songwriting, and the rest is history.  His debut full-length album, It Goes Like This, has spawned a pair of #1 Country Airplay singles and has sold nearly 200,000 copies to date.