Gabby Barrett, Walker Hayes Among 5 CRS New Faces of Country Music for 2022
The two artists are among five chosen from 11 nominees as New Faces of Country Music. It's a prestigious honor for a new artist, one handed out annually since 1970. Full-time music industry employees voted in mid-November, ultimately settling on a group that has achieved significant country radio airplay and streaming success in the past year. To qualify as a nominee, an artist needed to have at least one song — but not more than five songs— chart within the Top 25 of radio airplay charts. The eligibility period was Nov. 1, 2020 through Oct. 31, 2021.
Joining Hayes ("Fancy Like") and Barrett ("I Hope") are Parker McCollum ("Pretty Heart"), Jameson Rodgers ("Cold Beer Calling My Name") and Lainey Wilson ("Things a Man Oughta Know"). The annual Country Radio Seminar will be held Feb. 23-25 in Nashville. Last year's New Faces artists were Tenille Arts, Travis Denning, Hardy, Ashley McBryde and Matt Stell.
Remarkable about the Class of '22 is the unique paths each artist took to get to "New Faces" nomination. McCollum and Rodgers followed a traditional route: Playing concerts, building relationships and writing songs for a few years before signing a record deal. The other three did not.
Barrett was a teenage finalist on American Idol who struggled to secure a record deal afterward. Once she did, however, her first two singles soared to No. 1 and saw great crossover success. Hayes also soared quickly after a TikTok dance to his song "Fancy Like" went viral. That came over a decade after his first recording contract fell through and he was forced to take an overnight job at Costco to feed his wife and growing family. At age 41, he's the oldest New Faces artist in recent memory.
Finally, Wilson's journey is a typical 10-year overnight success story. The Louisiana native played writer's rounds and built a following slowly before signing to Broken Bow Records. Her first single "Dirty Looks" failed to catch on at country radio, and "Things a Man Oughta Know" moved very slowly until catching fire after she was named iHeartRadio's On the Verge artist.
The other nominees for the New Faces of Country Music show were Priscilla Block ("Just About Over You"), Blanco Brown ("Just the Way"), Callista Clark ("It's Cause I Am"), Ryan Hurd ("Chasing After You"), Niko Moon ("Good Time") and Elvie Shane ("My Boy").