CMT Extends 2020 “Listen Up” Tenure for 16 Rising Artists Into 2021

“Class of 2020” to retain status for annual CMT franchise

CMT has revealed the 16 up-and-coming artists previously named to its highly acclaimed 2020 LISTEN UP list will all receive an extended tenure into 2021 with continued promotion across all CMT platforms for the next year. The news of the program extension was revealed to each of the artists by CMT’s Cody Alan.

The following artists will remain on CMT’s prestigious 2021 LISTEN UP roster: Adam Doleac, Avenue Beat, Blanco Brown, Caleb Lee Hutchinson, Caylee Hammack, Gabby Barrett, Hailey Whitters, Madison Kozak, Marcus King, Niko Moon, Parker McCollum, Payton Smith, Sam Williams, Sykamore, Tiera and Walker County.

Country music’s most promising newcomers will continue to receive full cross-brand support for their music and videos across CMT and CMT Music channels, CMT Radio (250+ channels), CMT Hot 20 Countdown, and @CMT social media channels, in addition cross-promotional opportunities across ViacomCBS’ Entertainment & Youth Group.

The 16 artists below return for CMT’s prestigious 2021 LISTEN UP roster:

Adam Doleac

A native of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, former college athlete Adam Doleac taught himself to play guitar at the University of Southern Mississippi.

Avenue Beat

Brash. Bright. Fresh. Wildly melodic. Avenue Beat are from Quincy, Illinois, who grew up interested in social media platforms and theater groups.

Blanco Brown

Blurring the lines between country and hip-hop music, Atlanta artist Blanco Brown makes a Southern sound that he proudly calls "TrailerTrap."

Caleb Lee Hutchinson

This Georgia native’s crisp baritone and forward-thinking tastes captivated American Idol viewers. An adventurous batch of original music on the way.

Caylee Hammack

Caylee Hammack grew up in tiny Ellaville, Georgia. Her original songs tug on her own life story – bad decisions, broken hearts, and a quirky family lineage.

Gabby Barrett

Pennsylvania native Gabby Barrett began singing in her local gospel choir at nine years old. She rose to national prominence as an American Idol finalist.

Hailey Whitters

Originally from Iowa, Hailey Whitters is more concerned with the busted and broken way things are, rather than the pretty and polished way things are painted to be.

Madison Kozak

At 14, Madison Kozak convinced her parents to move from rural Ontario, Canada, to Nashville where she developed her skills as a vocalist and songwriter.

Marcus King

This young guitar phenom and innovative songwriter from Greenville, South Carolina, can switch from swaggering rock to supersonic soul.

Niko Moon

With an enduring optimism and a flair for challenging boundaries, Georgia native Niko Moon pairs Atlanta-bred hip-hop and traditional country.

Parker McCollum

Born in Conroe, Texas, and based in Austin, Parker McCollum is a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and dedicated road warrior with an entrepreneurial spirit.

Payton Smith

Originally from Louisiana, Payton Smith highlights his gifts as a vocalist, writer and nimble guitarist on his new EP -- and he plays every guitar part on each track.

Sam Williams

Born in Nashville and raised in Paris, Tennessee, Sam Williams (whose father is Hank Williams Jr.) uses songwriting as therapy to get out the things he needs to say.


Sykamore grew up on a cattle ranch near Alberta, Canada. Her songwriting is equal parts country and pop, with intimate reflection and empathetic storytelling.


An Alabama native, Tiera has been singing ever since she was a little girl. She moved to Nashville in 2017 and appeared on the USA Network series Real Country.

Walker County

The sisters of Walker County -- Ivy (lead vocals) and Sophie (drums and harmony) -- point proudly back to Sulphur Springs, Indiana and to the mark it left on them.

Shared CMT’s Leslie Fram, Senior Vice President of Music & Talent: “Our CMT Listen Up program holds a special place in our hearts, as our brand continues to be a staunch advocate for rising artists. As the music industry is still grappling with the lack of touring and live events, we decided to make sure this incredible list of emerging talent received the full extent of CMT’s support with video airplay, content rollout, social support and more. We are so thrilled for our audience to see more of this diverse group of newcomers and continue to provide them with a platform to share their music and stories. Now more than ever, it’s essential we come together through music!”

Since 2011, CMT’s LISTEN UP franchise has introduced new artists to the network’s passionate fan base and has helped launch the careers of superstars including Brett Eldredge, Carly Pearce, Dustin Lynch, Jon Pardi, Kacey Musgraves, Kelsea Ballerini, Luke Combs, Maren Morris, Midland and RaeLynn, among others.

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