Ten CMT Must-See Indies You Need to Know

These Rising Artists Are the Sound of Tomorrow

CMT’s new Must-See Indies list gives the spotlight to 10 rising artists influencing the music of tomorrow. The inaugural video collection highlights works by Hank Williams, Jr.’s son, two Kentucky natives and a few members members of CMT’s Next Women of Country program.

Sam Williams, “The Lost Grandchild’s Plea”
As the son of Hank Williams, Jr., Sam Williams inherited the gift of wondrous country lyricism and a vocal talent that his father believes is best in the family. Although Williams never got to meet his famous grandfather Hank Williams, the family legacy of music connects them. His first release, “The Lost Grandchild’s Plea,” is his tribute to his grandfather and his first wife, Audrey. “This song came from me writing down little poems and notes down during class at Belmont,” Williams tells CMT.com. “I’ve always wished Audrey was around for my sister, Katie, to look up to, and I’ve always wished grandpa Hank could know I understand him, and I relate to him more than anyone; inspiration, issues, traits, etc. I elaborated on my what-if’s and after realizing how important this message was to me, I decided I needed to release a tribute to them … I never thought I’d hear so many comments about people relating to me singing to my grandparents I never knew. More people than you think miss people they don’t remember or never met, like in my case.” Some scenes in the video were shot at the Fox Country Farmhouse, a White’s Room and Board short-term rental in idyllic Cornersville, Tenn. Williams just wrapped his Save Me, Kentucky Tour in July. “There is so much talent coming out of there and I wanted to experience the state and spread my voice.”

Emily Hackett, “Good Intentions”
With the line, “you can’t get rich off penny wishes,” Hackett’s super soul-rocker “Good Intentions” embodies some resolute Dolly Parton wisdom, and that is dreams are no good without the fortitude to put words into action and pursue them (Otherwise, you’re just sitting on a wish.). “I actually heard my pastor say at church, when trying to gain some more action in community service, that ‘We all have intentions of doing good, but you can’t get to heaven on good intentions,’” Hackett tells CMT.com. “I immediately wrote it down because it struck me as powerful, yet simple. When I brought it into my co-write with Adam James and Mikey Reaves, we ended up looking at it from a little bit of a sarcastic standpoint, because it’s so true. We all innately want to be better, but we’re all human, too.” Hackett is an Atlanta, Ga. native and a Nashville local, and “Good Intentions” is a single from what will be her self-titled debut album that’s split into two EPs. The first arrives Sept. 21. Filming locations for the video included Nashville’s Bobbie’s Dairy Dip, Twin Kegs bar and Church of The Advent on Franklin Pike.

Maggie Rose, “Smooth”
Rose instantly made new fans by the thousands when she performed her commanding, “Smooth” at the all-genre Bonnaroo Music and Arts festival in June. The song was released over the summer as part of Rose’s Digital 45 series, and it will be on her upcoming full-length album Change the Whole Thing, out Sept. 21. “I wrote ‘Smooth’ with my friends Brother Love and Alex Haddad from Them Vibes in October 2017 on the day before we were scheduled to go into the studio and record ‘Pull You Through’ and ‘Just Getting By,’” Rose tells CMT.com. “We just went all out and tried to write the funkiest, most fun song we could create to round out the session we were about to have, and it simply came together. That evening, we had rehearsal with the whole band, and it became so evident that everyone loved it from the way it instantly clicked musically.” The “Smooth” video was shot live at Nashville’s Starstruck Studios. Rose is on tour through December.

Hannah Ellis, “Home and a Hometown”
Ellis sings of the places that bring out the best in her, her home in Nashville and her hometown in Campbellsville, Ky., in her new single “Home and a Hometown.” “The title for ‘Home and a Hometown’ came to me one day when I was driving a little too fast down the backroads to my hometown in Kentucky,” Ellis tells CMT.com. “I was leaving Nashville and couldn’t wait to be in Campbellsville, then I realized that when I left to go back to Nashville, I felt the same way about Nashville. I thought to myself, ‘I really do have a home and a hometown.’ The next day my boyfriend and I wrote it with our friend Mark Trussell, and we were determined to only use true parts of my story. It was challenging but so authentic, and it turned out exactly (if not better than) that what we had hoped.” Scenes for the “Home and a Hometown” video were shot at Ellis’ loft-style home in Nashville, Edgehill Village’s Barcelona Wine Bar and in Campbellsville during its Fourth of July celebration. Ellis is on tour through October.

Dillon Carmichael, “It’s Simple”
Carmichael is country to the core and his latest release, “It’s Simple” celebrates life’s simple pleasures and embodies a perennial theme in country music, which is home. Scenes for the “It’s Simple” video were shot in his hometown of Burgin, Ky. (Population: 968). “I wrote [‘It’s Simple’] with three other guys who were from rural areas, and we were talking about how life was just so simple and how the people there like it,” he says. “You go to work, come home, grill out with the family, and the lyrics are ‘Love is for making. Kids are for raising / Home is that place in your heart,’ and the concept is that no matter where you go, home is the place in your heart, which for me is always going to be Kentucky. It’s a story about the old man next door who tells you that life is simple, and you shouldn’t overthink it.” Carmichael is the nephew of John Michael and Eddie Montgomery and a Nashville local. “It’s Simple” is the first single from his upcoming album, Hell On an Angel, which comes out Oct. 26.

Eric Dodd, “The Reason”
No one should settle for anything less than the love in Dodd’s “The Reason.” Co-written with Michael Whitworth and Dodd’s producer Dan Fernandez, it paints the perfect picture of what happens to someone when he/she gives their heart to another forever. Shot on a picturesque farm in Brentwood, Tenn., the video is as emotional as the love within the song. “I had recently gotten engaged, so a lot of what I was writing at that time was just very positive emotional and powerful,” Dodd says. “Michael had been married a few years, and so we were talking about how we felt leading up to a wedding. Dan came up with this guitar part you hear in the intro, and that just set the vibe.” Dodd’s wife Anna makes her music video debut in “The Reason.”

Filmore, “Slower”
Filmore’s catchy “Slower” is all about enjoying the moment and making the special ones last as long as possible. The video follows a new couple who ditch curfew to stay up all night and have some good clean fun over late-night ski ball and candy fights at a gas station. The recording session shots were filmed at Filmore’s band house in Nashville. “I wrote this song in Nashville with a couple songwriting buddies, Justin Ebach and Steven Dale Jones,” Filmore tells CMT.com. “I had the idea after visiting back home. We actually wrote the song rather quickly, basing it on personal experiences we had growing up in our hometowns. The lyrics in the song come from the times I would cruise in my Jeep and try to stay out as late as possible.”

Lainey Wilson, “Workin’ Overtime”
Sometimes song inspiration can be found in the oddest places. In the case of “Workin’ Overtime,” Lainey Wilson was inspired by a keychain she once had when she turned 16 and got the keys to her first car. “It was a Jeep Liberty — and I went to Walmart and picked out a bunch of keychains, because that’s what you do when you’re 16,” Wilson tells CMT.com. “One of the ones I picked out said, ‘My angels are working overtime.’ I don’t even know where that keychain is now, but that’s how the song idea came about — from something I picked up when I was 16, but I think still pertains to my life today.” “Workin’ Overtime,” is the first song from her latest self-titled EP (available now). Visit Wilson’s website for a complete list of dates.

Logan Mize, “Better Off Gone”
In a breakup, the only closure the brokenhearted will ever find is within themselves and not from their ex. With the key line, “Love her enough to not hold on,” that’s the essence of Mize’s latest song “Better Off Gone” from 2017’s Come Back Road album. “I fell in love with this song and had to have it,” Mize tells CMT.com. “My friend Abe Stoklasa wrote it with Donovan Woods.” The video was shot in Columbia, Tenn.

Post Monroe, “Coke & Rum”
Holy end-of-summer jam, Batman! Post Monroe’s “Coke & Rum” delivers. Filmed on the crystal-clear waters of Missouri’s Lake Viking, the song’s official video is very “Chattahoochee.” The duo’s Whitney Duncan and Ashlee Hewitt tell CMT.com, “We wanted to write a fun summer song about growing up in a small town and being young and carefree that you just want to roll the windows down and crank up!” Mission accomplished. “Coke & Rum” is part of a two-song release with “No More.”

Lauren Tingle is a Tennessean and storyteller who eats music for breakfast, lunch and dinner. When she’s not writing or rocking out, she enjoys yoga and getting lost in the great outdoors.