Longevity. It’s a quality that is prevalent in the country music genre, unlike many other arenas of the music industry. In fact, in country music you can still find eighties and nineties chart-toppers signing major record deals, agreeing to release new and modernized music, demonstrating artistic evolution that mirrors that of the genre, but without ever needing to compromise themselves.
What we often hear and see online is “What ever happened to xyz artists?” However, the artists these people are asking about have actually been here all along. Some have taken public eye hiatuses to spend time with family. Others have spent years creating the next perfect project. Many have remained in the spotlight. One even took her limitless career into her own hands.
Country music icons aren’t just things of the past; they are very much parts of the future. Here are some of the most celebrated and decorated country music artists who will be making quite a bit of noise in 2016.
Clay Walker took a few years to put pen to paper and create his next project; one that he is extremely proud to share with his fans. The first of the new material is a single entitled “Right Now“, which Clay has released to radio and debuted at the Grand Ole Opry. In 2016, we anticipate a new album from Clay as he continues to seek the support of a major label for its release. Clay promised us during our October 2015 interview that fans can expect a voice that will make you “fall” more than ever before. “I feel like I’m probably the most versatile right now that I’ve ever been, meaning I have a huge range. I can sing low and high, and I haven’t lost, I’ve actually expanded my range since I started, and it’s something that I feel like I can showcase better now.”
Clint Black, social media extraordinaire, released his first new album in ten years, On Purpose, this past year. Under Thirty Tigers, Clint put out music that touched on experiences he accumulated over the years, progressing at his own speed instead of the one dictated by the industry. In fact, Clint explained to us during our September 2015 interview: “I’ve followed my heart and never let the record companies take the songwriter in me out of the music I record.” Is there a “better man” out there, folks?
Sure, Garth Brooks took time off to see his daughters grow up, but the man defeated the machine when he made his return to the spotlight in 2014. Releasing his album Man Against Machine and joining the world of social media, Garth returned to the public eye following a Las Vegas residency and proved that the power of the programmer has nothing on the power of the people. In fact, Garth’s world tour (featuring his wife and fellow iconic country music artist, Trisha Yearwood) has sold out show after show after show in mere moments, making his ticket one of the most sought after in 2015 and 2016. It’s not just about “people loving people”, it’s about people loving the legendary Garth Brooks and embracing his staying power throughout many generations.
The cowboy didn’t ride away after all, despite a farewell tour in 2014. Instead, the cowboy, George Strait, returned with new music in 2015, promising that he only said goodbye to life on the road and would continue to bring his fans fresh material moving forward. While King George checked “no” when it came to living life city to city, he checked “yes” when he was presented with the opportunity to settle down in Las Vegas for select dates in 2016. The handful of Vegas dates, unsurprisingly, sold out, and George will continue is reign as the King of Country Music in the year to come.
Jo Dee Messina
Before there was Miranda Lambert, there was country music envelope-pusher, Jo Dee Messina. Though her music was unquestionably pure and family-friendly, Jo Dee marched into the industry in the mid-nineties with a rocking edge that few could pull off — even to date. Boasting a tremendously successful career throughout the late nineties and early 2000s, Jo Dee eventually parted ways from her major label, created a label of her own, and released the music she wanted to share with the help of her fans. Now, the spunky and independent Jo Dee continues on the path of most resistance, vowing to stay true to who she is and give her fans more of what they want in the year to come. What is also quite unique about this particular artist is that she shows consistent signs of personal and musical growth as the time ticks on, ensuring that fans will love her now and then. Watch out for her forthcoming EP, Masquerade, in the second quarter of 2016!
Martina McBride is one of the most beloved female country artists from the nineties and remains an artist who simply needs one name to be recognized by the masses. At the end of 2014, Martina joined the few, the proud, the Big Machine Label Group’s Nash Icon label, raising eyebrows and giving the impression and hope that new Martina music would be just around the corner. While nothing new has been released just yet, the iconic beauty has been making her rounds, performing at events, and staying very much relevant and in the forefront of the country music community. We are eager to see what 2016 holds for one of our favorite ladies in the industry and anticipate new music in her near future.
The fanciest of them all, Reba McEntire, has long been under Starstruck Records, the management company run by her now ex-husband Narvel Blackstock. However, in 2014, Reba signed a deal with Big Machine’s Nash Icon label, creating the impression that more new music is coming … hopefully in 2016. In the mean time, the fiery redhead who has never stepped out of the limelight and has done an incomparable job of staying forever young is performing in Las Vegas alongside longtime friends, Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn (also of Nash Icon) of Brooks & Dunn. At sixty years young, Reba is one of the most timeless artists that has ever existed in this genre and shows no signs of “going out like that”, or at all, any time soon!
If there is one thing Tim McGraw knows, it is “damn country music”! Having just released yet another album at the end of 2015, Tim is ready to head back out on tour to share his latest with his fans. With over thirty Number 1 hit songs, Tim is certainly on “top of the world” and is intending to stay right there — with his wife Faith Hill as his “shotgun rider” — throughout 2016. Considering the workhorse nature of Tim, don’t be surprised if he releases even more new music under his record label, Big Machine, before the next year is up.
Which iconic country music artists are you excited to hear more from in the year to come? Let us know by leaving a comment here!