CMT has revealed the 14 new artists named to its highly-anticipated 2024 class of the CMT Next Women of Country (NWOC) franchise, the brand’s celebrated effort to support and promote developing female talent as part of its overarching CMT Equal Play initiative encouraging parity in the format. The prestigious program recently marked its milestone 10th anniversary last year, solidifying its stature as one of the longest-running, leading female discovery platforms in country music.
The CMT Next Women of Country: Class of 2024 includes:
Anne Wilson, Denitia, Ella Langley, Emily Ann Roberts, HunterGirl, Karley Scott Collins, Kylie Frey, Lauren Watkins, Madeline Merlo, Mae Estes , Tanner Adell, The Castellows, Tigirlily Gold, and Twinnie.
The 2024 class was revealed today in front of an invitation-only crowd of VIP industry and media at City Winery Nashville by CMT’s Leslie Fram who was joined by co-host Kimberly Perry, and artist Colbie Caillat, each of whom will serve as 2024 CMT NWOC mentors, to fete the new class alongside NWOC alum.
New this year, NWOC will join forces with female singer-songwriter collective Song Suffragettes for a first time, year-long partnership, as announced on-stage by Fram and industry changemaker Todd Cassetty. Together with Change The Conversation and The Change Agent·cy, the joint effort will pursue industry education opportunities together in a continued effort to advance women in country music. In celebration of this collaboration, NWOC will host an upcoming showcase with Song Suffragettes at City Winery on Tuesday, Feb. 27th. Ticketing info, lineup and additional details to follow.
Again this year, CMT’s flagship series CMT Hot 20 Countdown, hosted by Carissa Culiner and Rissi Palmer, will dedicate an entire three-hour special episode to celebrating the new class of CMT Next Women of Country, introducing the class of 2024 with exclusive interviews and performance clips from each inductee. The special episode is slated to air Saturday, Feb. 10th.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to welcome this latest group of artists to CMT’s Next Women of Country,” said Leslie Fram, SVP, Music & Talent, CMT. “For the past 10 years, this franchise has represented the best and brightest new talent in all of country music and this year is no exception. From the UK and Canada to California and the deep South, these women all have their own unique stories to tell and we can’t wait to introduce them to CMT audiences in creative and meaningful ways.”
Fram continued: “And in the spirit of providing greater opportunities and visibility for female voices in our format, we’re thrilled to join hands and partner with our friends at notable singer-songwriter collective, Song Suffragettes, to work together towards our collective goal: greater parity for underrepresented female voices in our format. We look forward to collaborating with Todd Cassetty and his team to ensure that more talented women like these are given the opportunities they deserve to be seen and heard worldwide by our industry and fans.”
Over the next year, the 2024 CMT NWOC class will receive cross-brand support for their music and videos on CMT, CMT Music, PlutoTV’s ‘CMT Equal Play’ channel, CMT Hot 20 Countdown, CMT.com and @CMT social channels, in addition to cross-promotional opportunities for Paramount Media’s MTV Entertainment Group brands with live events, the Paramount Times Square NYC Billboard and more.
CMT also provides the NWOC access to social impact and artist advocacy opportunities designed to assist them in supporting charitable causes and social issues that they care about. These services will be provided by partnering with Nashville-based social impact firm, The Change Agent·cy for a fourth consecutive year. The group’s focus in 2024 will be voter registration and mental health.
A staunch advocate for country music’s female artists, CMT first launched its “Next Women of Country” campaign in 2013 as a substantial, meaningful effort to support and expose developing female talent, both signed and unsigned, in a male-dominated format. The initiative has grown significantly since its inception, showcasing emerging female artists across all CMT screens, including CMT and CMT Music, various digital series, and seven tours anchored by superstar acts including Jennifer Nettles, Martina McBride, Sara Evans, Tanya Tucker and Maddie & Tae.
The 2024 class marks a total of 125 female acts that have been named as part of the program, including notable alumni of the franchise who have achieved both commercial and critical acclaim: Ashley McBryde, Brandy Clark, Brittney Spencer, Brooke Eden, Caitlyn Smith, Carly Pearce, Gabby Barrett, Ingrid Andress, Kacey Musgraves, Kelsea Ballerini, Lainey Wilson, Lauren Alaina, Lindsay Ell, Madeline Edwards, Maren Morris, Megan Moroney, Mickey Guyton, Morgan Wade, Miko Marks and Tenille Arts, to name a few.
About the CMT Next Women of Country: Class of 2024
Anne Wilson: One of Nashville’s most inspiring young trailblazers, Anne Wilson is a true “rebel” in modern music. The Lexington, Ky. native, known for her transcendent vocal and down-to-earth storytelling, recently released REBEL (The Beginning), a three-pack of songs fusing the heart of Contemporary Christian Music with the sound of Country, and allowing the emerging powerhouse to innovate as her career builds momentum. Wilson delivered her first public performance at 15, singing “What a Beautiful Name” at her brother’s funeral in a moving expression of faith which soon went viral. A few short years later, her 2021 debut single “My Jesus” became a PLATINUM-certified single and hit No.1 on Billboard’s Christian Airplay chart. Since then, she has tallied more than 800M global streams, made her Grand Ole Opry debut and scored a GRAMMY nomination for her 2022 debut album My Jesus. She performed over 250 shows in the first two years of her career, and just wrapped her entirely sold-out headlining My Jesus Tour and will head out with Scotty McCreery in 2024. There’s much more to come from this modern musical revolution, who approaches her craft with a purpose and conviction that sets her apart. “I am who I am,” she says. “I’m Anne Wilson. I love God and that’s my everything, but I love Country music, too, and I can have a beautiful mix of both.”
Denitia: Texas-born and Nashville-based artist Denitia grew up in small refinery towns outside Houston, made her way to Nashville for college, then moved to Brooklyn for a decade. If her 2022 album, Highways, was a homecoming – to country music, her gold standard for songwriting, and back to Nashville – her forthcoming new album, Sunset Drive, anchors her there. “This project weaves together heartache, romance, and wanderlust to tell the bittersweet story of what it means to stay on the road of life: the visions ahead, the life you leave behind, and everything you take with you,” she explains. Denitia was named an Artist to Watch by NPR after earning one of five spots in the Black Opry and WXPN’s 2023 residency, is a member of Rissi Palmer’s Color Me Country Class of 2023, and is one of three artists in CMT and mtheory’s 2023 Equal Access cohort. She was also a showcasing artist at AmericanaFest 2023, where she played seven shows in five days, and has toured extensively with the Black Opry Revue; and shared stages with Jason Isbell, Amythyst Kiah, Wendy Moten, and Joy Oladokun, among other artists. Denitia’s music has been featured in the 2022 films Nanny and The Invitation, as well as in the series Better Things (FX), Broad City (Comedy Central), Dear White People (Netflix), Shrinking (Apple TV+), and The Terminal List (Amazon).
Ella Langley: Ella Langley is the kind of maverick country music needs. She’s got a rafter-reaching voice and is a straight-shootin’ songwriter who pulls no punches when it comes to life, love, and everything else under the sun. Spiking her unfiltered true stories with unapologetic rock ‘n’ roll grit and unassuming pop appeal, she’s emerged with millions of streams and a growing fan base. Hailing from Hope Hull, Alabama, she tirelessly gigged in bars and at local festivals before relocating to Nashville in 2019. Her songs “If You Have To,” “Damn You,” and “Country Boy’s Dream Girl” have continuously fueled her momentum with tens of millions of streams. She co-wrote Elle King’s 2022 single “Out Yonder” in addition to four more tracks on Come Get Your Wife. As a formidable performer, she’s already toured with Jon Pardi, Koe Wetzel, Randy Houser, Cody Johnson and Jamey Johnson while also sharing the stage with Lainey Wilson and Parker McCollum. Meanwhile, she made her debut at the Grand Ole Opry, and Spotify pegged her as a Hot Country Artist to Watch for 2023. She formally introduced her signature style on her 2023 debut EP, Excuse The Mess. Turning the page to her next chapter, Ella has already been named to CMT’s 2024 LISTEN UP roster. This year, Ella is set to hit the road with Riley Green, HARDY and Morgan Wallen. With the release of her upcoming debut album, Ella will continue to let everybody know what’s on her mind loud and clear.
Emily Ann Roberts: They say the path to the grandest stage is paved with relentless practice, and Emily Ann Roberts embodies this mantra. From humble performances on small Knoxville stages to gracing the illustrious Grand Ole Opry stage almost 20 times, Roberts has diligently earned her place in the spotlight. Her journey began on Blake Shelton’s team on The Voice, a remarkable feat achieved even before completing high school. Roberts has accumulated a wealth of performing, songwriting and recording experiences. This dedication has translated into over 35 million streams, solidifying her status as a prominent artist. Nine years later, her growth and hard work prompted an invitation from her former coach Shelton to join his 2024 17-date arena Back to the Honky Tonk Tour. Notably, CMT, Country Now, Music Mayhem Magazine, All Country News, and others have earmarked her as a significant artist to watch in 2024. Rooted in East Tennessee, Roberts draws inspiration from the rich tapestry of the Smoky Mountains and bluegrass music. This diverse upbringing uniquely positions her to reintroduce authenticity to country music, a mission evident in her debut full-length record, Can’t Hide Country. Recorded at Starstruck Studios in Nashville and produced by Trent Willmon, Emily Ann’s lyrics, brimming with honesty, coupled with her exceptional vocal prowess, have garnered widespread acclaim from both the media and her devoted fanbase. It is undeniably evident that country music is in capable hands with Emily Ann Roberts steering the ship.
HunterGirl: A Tennessee native, singer/songwriter HunterGirl has been performing since she was three years old and writing songs since she was nine. After graduating high school, she moved to Nashville and immediately started playing gigs at Nashville’s most famous honky tonks, winning songwriting contests such as “Nash Next” and the prestigious “Nashville Songwriter Association International.” HunterGirl holds a deep admiration for U.S. armed forces and works with many veteran organizations, where she uses music therapy to transform veterans’ stories into songs. Last year, she competed on “American Idol,” where she delivered standout performances and was praised by Idol judge Luke Bryan as the “new age Miranda Lambert” and his “favorite female country voice.” Skyrocketing to No. 1 on iTunes All-Genre and Country charts with the deeply personal original track “Red Bird,” HunterGirl is on the fast track to becoming country’s next big female artist. The first female country artist in over 30 years to write her debut radio single by herself, “Ain’t About You” is currently climbing the charts at country radio.
Karley Scott Collins: When Karley Scott Collins moved to Nashville from her hometown of Lake City, Fla., she arrived armed with her words – turns of phrase she’d fallen in love with, stories told to her by friends and family, and lyrics she’d jotted down in notebooks since she was 12. It’s Karley’s rich and emotionally soulful voice – an instrument that toes the line between wide-eyed wonder and world-weary knowledge – that anchors their messages. At their focal points, her songs are wrapped in lush instrumentation, neatly folding in her myriad musical influences like The Eagles, Stevie Nicks, Leonard Cohen, and Willie Nelson. Her debut releases, “Heavenly” and “Tattoos,” struck a chord with critics upon release last year. Now that her debut collection Hands on the Wheel has been released, Karley has revealed a deeper look into her story and her ability to connect her past influences with her fresh take on country music. And just announced, she’s slated to open for Willie Nelson on select dates this February.
Kylie Frey: In today’s country, it’s not uncommon for artists to veer from one “lane” to another, adopting a new sound and style as trends change. But there’s a growing movement within the genre suffering no such identity crisis, and there you’ll find Kylie Frey. Born and raised as country as it gets, Frey is a third-generation rodeo girl and Louisiana state goat- tying champion – and a rising star as genuine as her blue jeans. Sincere in her convictions and too real to dismiss, even for ardent country haters, her sound both typifies and transcends the genre. With her music she brings a timeless sense of authenticity back. “I just wanna own my story so much it makes someone else own theirs,” says the singer- songwriter.
Lauren Watkins: Drenched in authenticity and rife with barstool charm with an addictive, Tennessee limestone gravel in her voice, Nashville-born songbird Lauren Watkins writes, breathes, and lives country music. The 24-year-old grew up on the outskirts of Guitar Town, mesmerized by a jukebox rotation of country music, from outlaws like Willie Nelson and Sheryl Crow to chart-toppers Eric Church, Miranda Lambert, and Chris Stapleton. Moving back after four years at Ole Miss, Watkins’ unyielding, turn on a dime lyricism quickly caught the attention of GRAMMY-nominated multi-hyphenate Nicolle Galyon, who quickly signed her to publishing and recording contracts. Honing in on a sound that’s both reverent of the genre’s roots and in lockstep with where it’s headed next, she’s introducing her take on country music now with a double shot debut: a seven-song set Introducing: Lauren Watkins, released last April, and six-song sequence, Introducing: The Heartbreak, out now. Watkins recently toured with Jameson Rodgers, Morgan Wallen, Lily Rose, Austin Snell and more. She’s on the road now supporting Conner Smith.
Madeline Merlo: Raised in Maple Ridge, British Columbia near Vancouver, Madeline Merlo was discovered on YouTube and signed her first record deal at the age of 18. She was honored with the Canadian Country Music Association’s Rising Star Award in 2015, and in 2020, Merlo won the season two premiere episode of the reality series “Songland,” penning the upbeat and infectious “Champagne Night” for Lady A. The song was a three-week No. 1 that opened doors in Nashville that led to a record deal and a 2021 Canadian Country Music Association Award for Songwriter of the Year. Merlo released her vibrant four-track EP Slide in 2022 and recently released the resonant tracks “Same Car,” “Tim + Faith,” and “Makeup,” a track that encourages listeners to embrace their unique identity recognizing that you don’t have to pass on generational flaws and trauma.
Mae Estes: Hope, Ark. native, Mae Estes, has been paying dues in Music City for over seven years. In 2020, Estes signed her first publishing deal and has since racked up more than 10 million streams across platforms and over one million views on YouTube, independently and organically building a quickly-growing fan base. In 2022, “Thinkin’ Bout Cheatin’” became the first release from her upcoming debut EP as well as her first music video feature on CMT. That same year, Mae was honored with Arkansas CMA Female Vocalist of the Year for the second time in her home state. Mae recently fulfilled a lifelong dream by debuting at the historic Grand Ole Opry in March 2023. She prioritizes supporting our servicemen and women, having toured internationally with Armed Forces Entertainment and CreatiVets. She looks forward to touring her debut, six-song project, Before the Record.
Tanner Adell: Tanner Adell is here to unapologetically pave her own lane of country music. Brought up between the coast of Manhattan Beach, California and the rustic charm of Star Valley, Wyoming, the songstress lived a free-spirited childhood in the country, complete with cowboy boots and rodeos. Weaving the tales of her upbringing through her musical storytelling, Tanner’s lyricism keeps its roots in country while infusing an addictive blend of pop vocals and hip-hop beats. Tanner spills out energetic tunes and honest ballads that draw upon her personal narrative as a biracial woman embracing the truest version of herself. Reclaiming the girl power with her debut mixtape, Buckle Bunny, a first for the country genre, this rising star promises to keep reimagining music with unbridled innovation while making her mark on Music City and beyond.
The Castellows: Neo-Traditional country music trio, The Castellows, are bringing a literal meaning to the phrase, “family tradition.” The band, comprised of sisters Ellie (lead guitar), Powell (banjo) and Lily (vocals), hail from small rural Georgetown, Ga, but now call Nashville home. The Castellows’ sound is traditional, yet modern – authentic, yet harnessed. The common thread among the trio, other than their DNA, is their masterful three-part harmonies which blend together to create one singular, almost angelic, voice. The band began turning heads of music industry insiders in early 2023, when they received interest from entities across the entire music industry, including those based in New York, Los Angeles, as well as Nashville. The band spent the summer of 2023 writing, recording, and touring, and it is now time for the three sisters from a cattle farm in Georgia to step on the modern country music stage, times three.
Tigirlily Gold: Sister duo Tigirlily Gold has been playing music together since they could walk, and officially formed their band in high school. Growing up, they crisscrossed the midwest, growing a fierce fan base and selling out amphitheaters across their home-state of North Dakota. After moving to Nashville, they landed a weekly residence on Broadway, playing four-hour sets, three to four nights a week, developing a fun and captivating performance style. After releasing their original song “Somebody Does” in 2021, the track topped the iTunes chart and Tigirlily Gold was signed to a record deal. They released their self-titled, debut EP in July 2021, working with multi-Grammy Award Winner Shane McAnally, and hit the road with artists like Walker Hayes and Ashley McBryde. Now, the powerhouse duo has released their EP, Blonde – a deeply personal project that includes tales of love and loss alongside powerful anthems and songs of female empowerment. Their debut single at country radio, “Shoot Tequila,” reached the Top 40 and found viral success with millions of views across social media, and millions of streams across platforms. Their follow up single “I Tried A Ring On” will hit airwaves soon. After making their Grand Ole Opry debut and performing to a national audience on the TODAY Show, Tigirlily Gold is ready to bring girl group energy back to country music.
Twinnie: A true Gypsy, Twinnie grew up in the Romani Travelling community in England where her love for storytelling first started. She made her stage debut at just 4 years old. A triple-threat, she is no stranger to film or stage working with the likes of Glenn Close, Christian Slater and Alan Menken. While developing her own artistry, Twinnie performed as a backing dancer and singer to other artists like Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, alongside playing lead roles in London’s West End theatres in shows like ‘Chicago’ and ‘Rock Of Ages’. Launching her own artist career in 2020, despite the turbulent time, Twinnie became the International British crossover artist we know her as today. Twinnie has received critical acclaim from BBC Radio, People, Rolling Stone, and Billboard, and is known for her effervescent pop productions, power vocal and storytelling country lyricism centered on inclusivity and realism. Fresh to Music City, she recently made her Grand Ole Opry debut, becoming the first British Gypsy to step into the circle. 2023 became the year of firsts making her US TV Debut and charting on US Country Radio. She continues to build on the success of her release ‘Hollywood Gypsy’, and her inaugural American label EP ‘Welcome to the Club’ which racked up over 24 million streams and won Best Short Film at the British Film Awards. She has also toured with Lindsay Ell, Chase Rice, Russel Dickerson, Seaforth and Blessing Offor. Passionate about mental health in the music industry, she is the co-founder of I Know A Woman.