NECM’s Artists to Watch in 2020

At the end of every year, our staff gets together and comes up with our Artists to Watch for the upcoming year. In the past, we’ve predicted breakouts by artists like Mitchell Tenpenny, Riley Green, Ashley McBryde, Morgan Wallen, Jimmie Allen, Jordan Davis, Luke Combs, Maren Morris, Kane Brown and many others. So here is our list of Artists to Watch in 2020! We think each of them have what it takes to have enormous years of growth and success.


Know the old saying, ‘don’t judge a book by it’s cover?’ Well, don’t judge Ernest by his cover. Ernest may not be the muscle laden, well groomed country singer like his current tourmate Chris Lane, but this dude can flat out sing! He has quite the story after being adopted as a baby and having a freak heart attack at 19. But he hasn’t let any of that stop him from being a great songwriter and one helluva rising artist in his own right. He has written songs for Jake Owen, LOCASH, Morgan Wallen, Chris Lane, and Florida Georgia Line among others. With a voice like this and his proven track record in songwriting, 2020 should be a great year for Ernest!

Caylee Hammack

Crash My Playa, Tortuga, Stagecoach. Three of the biggest festivals in North America. And three festivals that Caylee Hammack is playing. Oh and she’s going on tour with LUKE BRYAN this summer! This fiery redhead has vocals that sound so effortless and can compete with anyone in the genre. Bold statement? Yes. Truth? Yes. Don’t believe us? Just check out the video below for ‘Family Tree.’ Honestly, Caylee has one of our favorite voices in the entire genre. We’re expecting BIG things from Caylee in 2020.

Gabby Barrett

Chances are you know her from American Idol a couple seasons ago- as she placed third behind Maddie Poppe and Caleb Lee Hutchinson. But her time on Idol gave superstar and judge Luke Bryan enough confidence to have her play at his show in her hometown of Pittsburgh at Heinz Field which is pretty cool. She hit the road with Chris Lane last year and she already has a bunch of major festivals booked for 2020. We love her single, ‘I Hope.’ And we can only hope her 2020 is great as we think it could be for Barrett.

Ingrid Andress

Want to hear an incredible song? Go and listen to ‘More Hearts Than Mine.’ Even Tim McGraw has said that this song ‘stunned him.’ Maybe that’s why he chose Ingrid to be part of his 2020 Here on Earth Tour. She’s also on the road this year with Dan + Shay on their arena tour. So Ingrid’s going to be playing for A LOT of fans from coast to coast this year. Couple that with her incredible songs and vocals, and you got yourself an Artist to Watch. We see you Ingrid, and we can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store for you!

Jameson Rodgers

If you’ve been to a Luke Combs show in the past year or two, chances are you’ve always been to a Jameson Rodgers show. Luke has had Jameson as an opening act for quite some time and that says a lot considering Combs is the hottest thing in country music. But getting the opportunity to play for these sold out shows in arenas across America can only bring you up and give you experience you generally don’t get as a newer artist. He has a headlining tour of his own that’ll come through the region in March. Definitely check out those shows and keep your eye on Jameson!

Lainey Wilson

We worked with Lainey a few years ago when she took over our Instagram story from Nashville during CMA Fest, showing the in’s and out’s of her day as she got ready for her show. But this year, the Louisiana native really got some traction as she trekked from coast to coast on her radio tour getting rave reviews across the country sharing her ‘bell bottom country.’ We loved seeing the video of her hearing her song on the radio for the first time ever. And we absolutely love her humor. This girl is FUNNY. Definitely follow her on social media as she will crack you up. Lainey is currently on the road with Justin Moore and Tracy Lawrence. She is uberly talented and may just be the next female star in the genre.

Matt Stell

Alright, we know. He already has a Number One but that doesn’t mean he’s still not eligible for our list. Matt is still pretty new to the scene and we think he is going to take 2020 by the horns. He’s gotten some great opportunities this past year with touring with Chris Young among others and he will be hitting the road with Toby Keith later this year. His current single is ‘Everywhere But On’ and is already getting traction with fans. Watch out for the ‘Pray For You’ singer he’s definitely someone to keep your eye and ear on.

Muscadine Bloodline

There’s a chance you’ve heard of this Alabama duo. They’ve been a rising act for a couple of years but we have a feeling that 2020 is going to be the year they break through and become a household name. They just released a brand new EP that is fantastic and also announced a 37 city tour, including Boston and Uncasville, that starts next month and will end in mid May. We can’t wait to see these guys’ success in 2020!

Niko Moon

Want to hear a smooth ass voice? Listen to Niko Moon. Absolute L-O-V-E his voice! His song ‘Good Time’ is a track that we are absolutely obsessed with. Traditional country fans, don’t @ us. His sound is inspired by where he grew up- an area in Georgia that was in between where Alan Jackson grew up and Hotlanta with guys like Outkast and TI. His tracks have the strings of guitars and banjos but also electronic percussion. We understand his sound isn’t for everyone. But for fans of Sam Hunt and Kane Brown, Niko Moon is a guy you need to hear. You’ll fall in love with him, just as we did. Niko will be in Boston in March with Ryan Hurd.

Payton Smith

We’ve been praising Payton on our socials and rightfully so. His EP is great and he just released a song called ‘Creek Don’t Rise’ that’s an absolute jam. If you haven’t heard Payton yet, do it. Go to iTunes or Spotify or wherever you listen or stream music and check out his stuff. He reminds us of a Cajun Keith Urban- fantastic guitar player with that Louisiana/bayou upbringing. This kid is seriously talented and Chris Young has tapped Payton for his 2020 tour. You’re going to be hearing a lot from Payton Smith this year- we guarantee it. Geaux Payton!