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CMA Fest spotlights new talent alongside megastars! Ten to watch at CMA Fest 2018!

CMA Fest spotlights new talent alongside megastars
By Preshias Harris for Country Music News International Magazine & Radio Show

‘Ten to watch’ at CMA Fest 2018

CMA Fest 2018 once again brings together the cream of the crop in Country music. From Thursday, June 07 through Sunday, June 10, fans from across the country and around the world will descend on Nashville.  Described by the Country Music Association (CMA) as ‘the ultimate country music fan experience,’ hundreds of artists will be performing on eleven stages.

One of the unique aspects of CMA Fest is the opportunity to see new and emerging artists in addition to current superstars and legendary performers – all in one music festival.

Fans may be heading to CMA Fest to see Blake Shelton, Carrie Underwood, Chris Stapleton, FGL and Keith Urban, but there is SO much more talent to be seen and heard – even if some of the names are not familiar to you… yet!

Here are some quick pen-portraits of just a few of the acts appearing at Music Fest that you might want to check out…

Clare Dunn
Friday, June 08, 7:00 pm – 7:25 pm
Cracker Barrel Country Roads Stage, Ascend Amphitheater
Saturday, June 09, 4:30 pm – 4:55 pm
Chevy Breakout Stage

Growing up in tiny Two Buttes, Colorado (population: 43), Clare Dunn spent days at a time in a tractor cab helping plow and plant the family farm, sharpening her ears with uninterrupted music-listening in the driver’s seat, even as she strengthened her work ethic. “That’s where a lot of my creativity came from and where a lot of my vision was forged, was just having nothing else to do other than listen to music and dream all day long in the vast wide open of those plains,” she reflects.

Recording for MCA Nashville, she is the only female country artist in recent memory to have a hand in all of the writing, arranging and producing for her debut release, the Clare Dunn EP. The project was recorded in the Cave at Nashville’s House of Blues studios.

An accomplished musician, Every lick of guitar on the EP is hers, from agile melodic figures to aggressive shredding, is hers. “I think there’s, like, one song where I didn’t play a mandolin part or something like that,” she says. “But other than that, every lead part is my playing—acoustic, electric, everything.”

Catch Clare singing (and shredding) on two stages during CMA Fest.  More about Clare at http://www.claredunn.com

Sunday, June 10, 2:30 pm – 2:45 pm
CMA Music Fest Spotlight Stage

EmiSunshine is a dynamic young singer/songwriter who initially captured the nation’s attention via her presence on social media, racking up I,000,000+ views on YouTube. Releasing her first full-length CD at the age of 9 in 2014, she released her fourth studio recording, RAGGED DREAMS, in August 2017.  She plays about 150 shows a year, and has included appearances at the Grand Ole Opry and on Marty Stuart’s Late Night Jam at the Ryman Auditorium.

EmiSunshine is a multi-instrumentalist with a unique vocal style that draws on her influences from early Country and Appalachian music. She cites artists as varied as Loretta Lynn, The Louvin Brothers, Bessie Smith, June Carter and Hank Williams as being music creators that have affected her own musical journey.

She is a witty and observant songwriter who self-produces both her live and studio recordings, and is equally proficient with guitar, mandolin and ukulele, attracting millions of fans around the world.  Her songs often relate to subjects such as Autism, the tragic Gatlinburg fires, floods and incarceration. EmiSunshine says she likes to surprise – even shock – people with her ‘real life’ songs.  Music and tour info at http://theemisunshine.com 

Gal Friday
Saturday, June 09, 4:00 pm – 4:15 pm
CMA Spotlight Stage

Comprised of York, Ashley Min and Lauren Wilson, these sisters live up to their name - a band that has it all. The sound that accompanies their name is the best their upbringing had to offer: their own blend of southern gospel, rock, bluegrass and country. Their synergistic sibling harmonies, bluegrass soul and wide open spirits have resulted in a style that is authentic and unique.

Gal Friday is currently taking their newest album SMOKE AND MIRRORS on the road building a following in the southeast, having opened for A-listers Keith Urban, Charles Esten, The Band Perry, LoCash, Jason Aldean, Lee Brice, Travis Tritt, Wynonna Judd, Chase Rice and Kellie Pickler, among others. They recently released their single ‘Scrapyard’ that climbed the Music Row Breakout Chart.  Tour updates and music at https://www.galfridayband.com/tour/

High Valley
Sunday, June 10, 3:15 pm -3:45 pm
Chevy Riverfront Stage

Hailing from La Crete, Alberta in Canada, brothers Brad and Curtis Rempel didn’t grow up listening to music. They couldn’t. "We had radios, but you turned them on and heard a lot of static from an AM station 300 miles away. When it was cold enough you could hear the farm report, the price of grain and the occasional old school country song. We finally got FM in our town when I was in 10th grade."

While their upbringing didn't exactly acquaint them with the Billboard 100, it's that insulation that helped cement their musical ideals and love of simple, classic country, allowing High Valley's music to feel simultaneously fresh and timeless. DEAR LIFE, their recently released major label debut on Atlantic/Warner Music Nashville, is an album that fuses tradition with wide-eyed musical exploration, stays true to their family-first value system and celebrates resilient positivity.

Now, utilizing social media, they have amassed more than 43 million song streams worldwide - including 22 million for first single ‘Make You Mine.’ The new album is evidence that Brad and Curtis shouldn't worry about losing their way. Their calling is a strong one - to bring positive and original family-friendly energy back to the country landscape - and they're following it with passion. Catch up with the guys at http://www.highvalleymusic.com

Jason Morton and the Chesapeake Sons
Sunday, June 10, 3:00 pm – 3:15 pm

Southern rock group Jason Morton and The Chesapeake Sons released their debut single ‘Ride All Night’ to radio May 24.  It is the first single to drop from the band's self-titled debut album released in November 2017 via Copperline Music Group. the four-piece ensemble blends effusive melodies, fierce musicianship, convicted vocals, and smart lyrics in a diverse song stew that dips – in Southern-rock fashion – into rock, blues, country, gospel, and even psychedelia.

"This song was one of the last songs to be written and recorded for the album. When the creative process began, we had absolutely no idea this would become the first track on the record and the first single!" says Morton. "Although the lyrics are simple, they are a perfect fit for the outlaw vibe of this record."

Written by Morton and Will Edwards, the track showcases the frontman's powerful vocal range and the band's southern rock influences, reminiscent of The Black Crowes, The Marshall Tucker Band, and The Allman Brothers Band.  Music and info at https://www.iamjasonmorton.com

Lewis Brice
Sunday, June 10, 4:15 pm – 4:40 pm
Nashville Acoustic Corner Stage

Lewis Brice brings a unique sound, rooted at the intersection of country, southern rock, and R&B. His current single, ‘Alabama,’ co-written with his brother Lee Brice, is a track from his self-titled EP that has racked up more than 460,000 streams and debuted in the Top 15 on the iTunes Country charts. Born and raised in Sumter, South Carolina, Lewis currently lives just north of Nashville, TN, where he spends his time writing and working on new music. He has played shows with Hank Jr., Lee Brice, The Cadillac Three, Jerrod Niemann, Gary Allan, LOCASH, American Young and more.

Lewis first made headlines with 2010's ‘Ordinary Girl,’ co-written with Dallas Rogers, and marked his first appearance on the Mediabase and iTunes Country charts. He appeared in CMT’s first season of ‘Can You Duet,’ coming in 8th place out of the thousands. Showcasing his versatile talents, Lewis also took on the lead role in the music video for brother Lee Brice’s  ‘I Drive Your Truck,’ the 2014’s ACM Song of the Year. More about Lewis and his music at http://lewisbrice.com

Savvy and Mandy
Saturday, June 09, 10:00 am – 11:00 am
Radio Disney Country Stage

Savvy & Mandy’s new single, ‘Wildfire,’ dropped May 25th, and their EP is scheduled to be released later this year. These Southern California bred sisters have had a passion for singing since they were born. Their persistence and hard work have paved the way to making their dream a reality. While living in Nashville the past few years, the girls have been writing and producing with some of the city's finest, and have performed at many iconic clubs including The Bluebird Cafe, Douglas Corner, and The Listening Room.

These collaborations have created Savvy and Mandy's signature sound that is showcased in tracks such as ‘Comin' Back As A Cowboy,’ ‘Never Forget and Change Your Stars,’ and more. They have toured all over the United States, sharing their music and interacting with their fans. Their infectious and relatable personalities have caught the attention of both the music industry and Hollywood. Savvy & Mandy have appeared in, and had their music placed in, multiple television shows and commercials. They also have their own radio show called The Savvy & Mandy Show on Radio Disney Country. Their anticipated new single "Wildfire" drops on May 25th, and their EP. Find more info at https://www.savvyandmandy.com/album

Shane Owens
Saturday, June 09, 1:00 pm – 1:15 pm
CMA Spotlight Stage

Shane Owens makes traditional country music for the modern world. Timeless and timely, it's a classic sound with a contemporary edge, driven forward by a mix of southern storytelling, Bible Belt twang, and Owens' big, booming baritone.

Long before he hand-built his career in the honky-tonks and country clubs of the southeast, Owens grew up in Alabama. In many ways, it was a classic American upbringing, filled with family, faith, and music. Owens shines a light on those old-school values with his newest album, working closely with a roster of country music's top songwriters — including Bob Diperio, Greg Barnhill, Tony Stampley, Wynn Varble, Brian Callihan and Trent Willmon — for his most upbeat collection of songs to date.

The record's lead single, ‘Lie,’ finds Owens mixing twang and humor in equal doses. A tale of one man's desperate attempt to woo a woman, it unveils a new side of the singer, shining a light on the country traditionalist's good-natured wit. The song made its debut in April 2018, paving the way for a full-length album produced by Steve Popovich Jr. and Joe Kelly. More on Shane at https://www.shaneowenscountry.com

Scooter Brown Band
Saturday, June 09, 2:00 pm – 2:30 pm
Maui Jim Broadway Stage at Hard Rock Café

Scott Brown devoted 4+ years of life ( including two tours of duty with one tour of combat in Iraq) but has now traded his guns in for guitars.  The Scooter Brown Band was formed and began playing mainly in and around Houston, Texas. The band has toured the country and opened for some of their biggest influences including  Charlie Daniels Band, Travis Tritt, Lee Roy Parnell and the Marshall Tucker Band, just to name a few.

For the last year the band has been building a new era in their career. Defined as modern southern rock the band released American Son in August 2017 which has had over 150,000 Spotify Streams. The Scooter Brown Band was named in Rolling Stone  as a “Country Artist to Watch” in December 2017. For more information, visit www.scooterbrownband.com

Trent Harmon
Friday, June 08, 12:00 noon – 1:00 pm
Radio Disney Country Stage

Saturday, June 09, 3:50 pm – 4:15 pm
Chevy Breakout Stage

Trent Harmon is seeing bright days ahead for this summer. In 2017, he had a personal break-up, his record label (Dot Records) folded and Trent re-signed with Big Machine Label Group. In February, he premiered the single ‘You Got 'Em All,’ the title track from his debut album, released on May 18, 2018.

A little known fact about Trent was that he auditioned in May 2014 for NBC's The Voice in New Orleans. After singing Sam Smith’s ‘Stay With Me’ for the casting director, he was one of 300 open audition contestants chosen to compete further from a field of 32,000. Months later in October 2014 he was again flown to Los Angeles for several weeks with his family to be filmed for the show although ultimately no judge chose him and his audition did not air. Harmon later said, “The rejection prepared me for my 'Idol' phase of my career.

Fast Forward, Harmon won the fifteenth season of American Idol on April 7, 2016. His winning song, ‘Falling,’ was written by American Idol judge Keith Urban and award-winning songwriters Dallas Davidson and Brett James. At this year’s CMA Fest, he will continue to win over flocks of new fans and with his newest single climbing charts. He deserves his rainbow. More at www.trentharmon.com

To see the full lineup of artists appearing at CMA Fest 2018, click here.

Note that all lineups and schedules at CMA Fest are subject to change!

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