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‘S wonderful! ‘S marvelous! That’s what rang through my head as I watched The Swon Brothers tear up the South Florida Fair stage during their “Swoncert” (try saying that … it rolls right off the tongue) in front of a rowdy crowd. After seeing The Swon Brothers live, this much is clear – these boys were born to be on stage.
The Voice Season 4 Finalists, Zach and Colton Swon, spent their show covering songs ranging from country to classic rock to classic country rock. The boys barreled through the starting line with a cover of Randy Houser‘s “How Country Feels” and quickly transitioned into the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band‘s “Fishin’ In the Dark” (much to our amazing photographer friend, Sara Kauss‘, excitement). The guys manifested their uncanny abilities to harmonize with one another without ever making evident that one brother’s vocal prowess is any more superior than the other.
Country music is probably the most accepting and welcoming genre in music. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that newcomers enter the scene often and immediately imprint our hearts with their sincerity and gratitude, and win our support with their undeniable talents. The staff at Keepin’ It Country has compiled a list of those we are Keepin’ Our Eyes On in 2014. We suggest you all take notes and keep a close lookout for these up and coming artists. We have a feeling they will be filling your iPods and blaring from your stereo speakers in the very near future.
Jenn Bostic – With a hit record in the United Kingdom and nearly half a dozen Independent Country Music Awards under her belt, “Jenn Bostic” is becoming a name commonly uttered by country music fans alike. If you haven’t heard Bostic’s breakout song, “Jealous of the Angels,” you are missing out on a song that will simultaneously touch and break your heart, all the while soothing your soul. It won’t take long until the United States’ radio stations take notice of this talented, warm, and beautiful artist. Mark our words.
Brandy Clark – She may hate orange and she may not look good in stripes, but she sure does sound sensational singing about same. With impressive songwriting credentials under her belt, Clark contributed her vocal talent to Sheryl Crow’s 2012 tour. Clark later released an EP, entitled Brandy Clark, and a full-length album, 12 Stories, which has received countless rave reviews. With the release of 12 Stories taking place so late in 2013, the album has barely had time just yet to circulate to its fullest potential, but we anticipate that radio stations are going to take notice sooner, rather than later, and make Clark a household country music name.
Lucy Hale – You may have been watching Hale for years in her role as Aria Montgomery on ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars. However, you might have been unaware that Hale first entered our homes on the small screen due to her musical talents. Ten years after Hale introduced her vocal abilities to America, she has returned, honoring her Tennessee roots, and recently released her debut country music single. If “You Sound Good To Me” is any indication of what Hale’s entire album is going to prove, consider Hale the next successful crossover artist from television to music.
Caroline Kole – She entered the scene as a pre-teen, sharing the stage with iconic country singer, Reba McEntire. She shares management with McEntire, Blake Shelton, and Kelly Clarkson. She is only sixteen years old. At sixteen, Kole has had experiences that most of us could only dream about and she is not even close to being done. Kole’s debut EP is being released this Tuesday, January 14, 2014, and is unmistakably a perfect introduction to country music fans. What will fans take from this album? Kole is mature; Kole is talented; Kole is bringing country back … and Kole, along with her classic country sound, are here to stay.
Jamie Lynn Spears – You have likely known of Spears for most of her life because of her family. You might have watched her on Zoey 101 or read about her in a magazine or twenty. However, this is a Jamie Lynn Spears you never knew before and is worth taking time to get to know. Bursting into country music with a song that people were initially skeptical about, Spears shocked the country music world with her raw, beautiful vocals on “How Could I Want More?” The track left country music fans wanting more, and we anticipate that Spears will provide more … and continue to make a name for herself in music.
Frankie Ballard – Although Frankie Ballard had moderate country success a few years ago with “A Buncha Girls,” his current single “Helluva Life” is currently climbing the radio airwaves in anticipation of the release of his forthcoming album with Warner Brothers, Sunshine and Whiskey. Ballard possesses a laid-back style and an effortlessly country voice that is sure to continue to endear him to country fans and help him truly break out in 2014.
Austin Webb – We dare you to listen to Austin Webb’s “Slip On By” and not stop in your tracks and feel the goosebumps rise on the back of your neck. Then give a listen to “It’s All Good” and you’re sure to find a smile creep over your lips. Webb possesses a soulful voice and storytelling ability that is hard to come by in today’s music scene and he’s also killer on the harmonica. His sound hearkens back to a seemingly bye-gone era in country music that we’d fully support him ushering back. He’s currently working on his debut album with Byron Gallimore (Lee Ann Womack, Tim McGraw) and we can’t wait to hear it.
Chase Rice - Once upon a time, Chase Rice was just another contestant on CBS’s Survivor, and although he may not have won that reality show, his country career took off in a big way due to a little song named “Cruise.” He co-wrote the Florida-Georgia Line megahit and released his own EP “Ready Set Roll” that is sure to win over country music fans. Rice will hit the road with Billy Currington and Brett Eldredge later this year, while also hopefully completing a full-length album.
Eric Paslay – There’s absolutely no denying the ear-wormability of Eric Paslay’s current single, “Friday Night.” While that catchy tune has finally given Paslay attention as an artist, you’re undoubtedly already a fan of his work. He’s written tracks like Jake Owen‘s #1 hit “Barefoot Blue Jean Night,” Love and Theft‘s “Angel Eyes” and Eli Young Band‘s “Even if it Breaks Your Heart.” At six feet, four inches, the man is a giant walking hit factory and we expect to hear much more from Paslay in 2014, as he continues to hone his leading man skills on tour with Brantley Gilbert and Thomas Rhett.
Dan + Shay - This Warner Music Nashville duo, consisting of Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney, was formed just a little over a year ago, but they have come onto the country scene in full force. They released their debut single “19 You + Me” back in October, and it was the most added debut single of 2013. It is currently climbing the Billboard Country Airplay and Hot Country Songs charts, and this week, it also debuted on Billboard’s Hot 100. “19 You + Me” is one of those songs that you love on first listen and then hit repeat, and we expect it to continue its rise. Plus, we hear a bit of Rascal Flatts in there, and really, that’s always a good thing. If the single and their YouTube videos are any indication of what is to come, Dan + Shay will definitely be making a big name for themselves.
Jill and Kate – We have been fans of Jill Pickering & Kate Rapier, collectively Jill and Kate, for years. After being long-time members of Kelly Clarkson‘s band and touring worldwide, the girls decided in 2012 to focus full-time on their own music. They have independently released a handful of albums and EPs (their most recent – Heart of Stone), and will be releasing new music this year. There are not many voices who sound as cohesive and blend as effortlessly well together as Jill and Kate’s do. Keep your eyes on this talented duo… we think this may be their break-out year.
The Swon Brothers – With Cassadee Pope and Danielle Bradbery already impacting country music in a big way, we think this fellow The Voice/Team Blake duo is next (Blake Shelton really has an ear for talent, doesn’t he?). The Swon Brothers, signed to Arista Nashville, recently released their new single “Later On” and the song hit number one on the iTunes Country Songs Chart within 24 hours. It will officially be sent to radio next month and their debut album is set for later this year. The brothers – Zach and Colton – are well on their way.
Striking Matches - Striking Matches, made up of Sarah Zimmerman and Justin Davis, recently signed with Capitol Records’ new label, I.R.S. Records Nashville. They have been gaining momentum and much notoriety with writing several songs for the hit ABC television show, Nashville, as well as partnering with CMT and having the backing of the Grand Ole Opry. The duo already has a self-titled EP under their belts, and they are now hard at work on their debut album. They are sure to continue their rise in country music.
Blackjack Billy - Composed of Rob Blackledge, Noll Billings, Jeff Coplan, Patrick Cornell, and Brad Cummings, this country rock band independently released their debut single “The Booze Cruise” last March. The song became a SiriusXM “The Highway” find as well as the biggest-selling song on iTunes by a band without a major label for the first half of 2013. Later in the year, the band was signed to Bigger Picture Music Group and released a five-song EP entitled Get Some. They have the sound; they have the look… With the backing of the label, we are sure to hear even more from them this year.
Arista recording artists, The Swon Brothers, have officially announced “Later On” as the debut single for their upcoming album. After playing it live, in a celebrated return performance to The Voice in December, the Team Blake finalists have been drumming up anticipation for this release.
The single shipped today to country radio stations and although, the official radio airplay date is set for March of this year; fans have been able to download the song from iTunes since December. Within 24 hours of its availability, listeners pushed “Later On” to #1 on iTunes’ Top Country Song charts!
The duo is pleased that the song is resonating with their fans as much as it does with themselves. Zack Swon was quoted as saying, “We are beyond blessed and excited to be releasing our very first single on Arista Nashville! We believe that with the love and support from our fans this song has big potential.”
“We’ve waited and prayed for this moment our whole lives and it’s finally here! We are more than ready to meet all the folks at country radio and want to say thank you in advance for welcoming your two new brothers to the family!” added by his brother, Colton Swon.
For now, The Swon Brothers are hard at work with producer Mark Bright (Carrie Underwood and Sara Evans) on their debut album under Arista Nashville. The date for the album may be set for later this year, but fans who just can’t wait, can download the debut single, “Later On”, here.
And for fans who just can get enough of this fun and talented brother duo, you can catch the replay of their performance on The Voice, here.
Country music is unstoppable!
The Voice finale for season 4 aired last night, and it’s a three-peat for Blake Shelton. The new Voice title went to Team Blake’s 16-year-old country singer, Danielle Bradbery.
Danielle was a favorite from early on in the competition. She consistently wowed the coaches and audience every week. The Voice was the first audition she ever had, but you would never know that watching her perform. She looked like a seasoned professional on the stage, and her top-notch vocals seemed effortless. Danielle has “it”… we are going to see a lot of her in country music!
Coach Blake has won the last three seasons of The Voice. We love getting to see Shelton mentor the contestants and help navigate their careers. He really is so wonderful with his team, and he truly sticks with them once the show is over.
It also happened to be Shelton’s birthday yesterday and I think the win was a pretty awesome present!
Fellow Team Blake members, The Swon Brothers, came in third place. Zach and Colton are on great duo and I think they are going to be very successful as well. I am still blown away by their version of “Danny’s Song.” It’s a must download from iTunes if you have not grabbed it yet.
I also want to recognize Team Usher member, Michelle Chamuel, who finished as the runner-up. She was so great this season as well and what a humble and gracious personality.
I truly think this was the best season of The Voice thus far. The talent was excellent, and Usher and Shakira were perfect additions for our two favorite guys, Blake and Adam.
Congratulations to Danielle and Blake, as well as The Swon Brothers & Michelle! We wish you all continued success with your music careers!
Until Season 5, Voice fans…
Check out Danielle performing “Maybe It Was Memphis” from earlier this season:
Team Blake survives another week on The Voice!
Danielle Bradbery, Holly Tucker, and The Swon Brothers all advance to next week’s Top 8. Team Adam also returns all three remaining members, while Usher and Shakira each had to say good-bye to another teammate last night.
Blake definitely put together a strong team, and all three should do well with a career in country music in the future.
First, Danielle is a star! She has powerful vocals that are always spot on. The voice mixed in with her amazing stage presence and personality makes her a definite front-runner in the competition. She seems like a seasoned performer, yet she is the youngest contestant and the show was her first audition.
Next, we have Holly Tucker. She’s another fantastic vocalist, who I think just had her best performance this week. All I could say after watching her version of “How Great Art Thou” was ‘DANG! That was awesome!’ And I’m not southern… Blake is rubbing off on me.
Finally, the Swon Brothers. They are so unique and are as country as you can get. Whether they are rockin’ out or slowing things down, the brothers truly shine together.
Blake may just have another win on his hands. Could it be a three-peat for Team Blake? I think Adam is his biggest competition right now, and it will probably come down to a Team Blake vs. Team Adam showdown.
Congrats, Team Blake on making the Top 8!
Team Blake advances another week and is stronger than ever!
It was Top 12 time on The Voice this week, and the voting was left completely up to the public. The coaches did not get a vote nor could they save anyone. Usher and Shakira each ended up losing a team member in Vedo and Garrett, respectively, while Team Blake & Team Adam remained in tact.
That means Danielle Bradbery, Holly Tucker, and The Swon Brothers move on! Blake sure did put together a powerhouse country team.
Congrats, Team Blake! We’re rooting for you. Keep it up and keep it country!
The Top 10 take the stage Monday night on NBC at 8/7c!
Check out the video of Blake performing with his team on Tuesday:
With auditions, battle, and knockout rounds complete, The Voice will be moving on to live competition next week.
This week, Blake, Adam, Shakira, & Usher each chose a final four to represent their teams. The competition is fierce this season and is sure to be great entertainment.
Our very own country rep, Mr. Shelton, is a 2-time Voice champ and reigning winner. He’s kept it pretty diverse in the past, but he is country strong with Team Blake moving forward.
The remaining team members are Danielle Bradbery, Holly Tucker, Justin Rivers, and The Swon Brothers. While there was a great deal of talented artists, I definitely think Blake got it right this week.
There really is only one artist on the original Team Blake that I hoped would have made it to the playoffs, and that is Caroline Glaser. I wish Blake had decided not to pair her and Danielle against each other in the battle rounds. I would have liked to have seen both of them representing Team Blake in the live shows. However, Caroline is with Team Adam now, and that really is the beauty of the steal. It allows the coaches to keep talent that maybe would have been let go too soon.
Will Blake and his country crew make it a 3-peat this season? There are some powerhouses this year, especially on Team Adam. While we know that Blake’s buddy, Mr. Levine, is always gunning to take the title from him, Shakira and Usher are definitely equally determined to win it all. The next few weeks should be a good battle!
The live rounds kick off on Monday night on NBC at 8/7c. Don’t miss it!