Lindsay Ell, Lucy Hale, Nikki Lane, Angaleena Presley and Natalie Stovall & the Drive are the latest artists to join to join CMT's Next Women of Country, an initiative recognizing women who are making a major impact on country music.
In 2013, the first round of CMT's Next Women of Country featured Kacey Musgraves (who went on to win two Grammy Awards less than a year after her debut album was released) and Brandy Clark (whose 12 Stories album was heralded from coast to coast for its wit, sass and soul).
So good things are bound to happen for this next round of female artists. And it's not just their voices that have us looking forward to their music. It's their music, in general.
Women have a way of avoiding the same old tired trends. (Can you imagine a world where women sang about men the way men sing about women?) Instead, these women dig deep and find the stories and the lyrics that make listeners stop and think.
Give these five pioneers a listen. You can hear them all at NextWomen.CMT.com and watch exclusive video premieres, live performances and more. And if you're going to say something nice about these artists, use the hashtag #NextWomen so they can hear your comments.
Lindsay Ell: Ell's debut single, "Trippin' on Us" was the most-added song on country radio recently. That is no easy feat for a newcomer, so she must be doing something right. She's been opening internationally for The Band Perry, too, which means she's learning from the best. And, she plays a purple Les Paul, upping her cool factor for all the guitar lovers out there.
Lucy Hale: True, Hale plays Aria Montgomery on the Pretty Little Liars TV series, but she isn't doing any acting when she's playing the part of the rookie country singer behind "You Sound Good to Me." It's all really real. Her sweet -- sometimes sultry -- voice is a great addition to the genre. Her debut album, Road Between, will be here in early June.
Nikki Lane: The outlaw country singer has a new album -- All or Nothin' -- due out in May. And the songs have Lane tackling topics like one-night stands and ex-boyfriends. That may make her one of the edgier women in the group, but life ain't always beautiful. Just like listeners can relate to happy songs, we can relate to the other stuff, too.
Angaleena Presley: One third of the Pistol Annies with Miranda Lambert and Ashley Monroe, Presley was known as Holler Annie, and she has proven songwriting chops and a voice that will have you glued to your country radio. She's working on a solo project now, and you'll love what she has to say.
Natalie Stovall & the Drive: Stovall plays the fiddle. Make that, she plays the hell out of the fiddle. Listening to her play and sing makes me think of the way I felt when I first heard the Dixie Chicks. This band's been on the road for almost nine years, so live music comes naturally to them. But their debut song "Baby Come On With It" is destined to be a radio hit.