Nashville Music Guide’s Artists to Watch 2024

Artists to Watch #14

From the humble beginnings of singing in an Arkansas rodeo arena at the tender age of seven, Mae Estes’ journey to stardom is a testament to her tenacity and talent. Growing up in Hope, Arkansas, Estes was always drawn to the spotlight and the stories she could tell within it – which led her to Nashville. Her early days were not without their challenges; to make ends meet, Estes worked up to three jobs simultaneously, all while nurturing her musical ambitions.

Despite the grind, Estes’s passion for music never waned. Drawing from her experiences, Estes’s songwriting resonated with authenticity and “plain-spoken truth,” qualities that earned her a loyal and growing fan base. Her unbridled dedication began to pay off when she independently released music in 2019. By 2020, her talents were formally recognized when she inked her first publishing deal with Plaid Flag Music, with strategic input from the renowned Kobalt Music.

Estes’s grassroots success is evident when looking at her streaming numbers – having accumulated over 10 million streams across various platforms, her engagement with audiences is indisputably strong. Further solidifying her presence in the digital world, her YouTube views soared past one million, a significant milestone for any independent artist.

In 2022, Mae Estes caught the attention of the wider country music industry with her track “Thinkin’ Bout Cheatin’,” which marked the first release from her eagerly anticipated debut EP. Its reception landed her a coveted music video feature on CMT, amplifying her visibility and reach within the country music circuit. Her home state continued to take pride in her achievements, bestowing upon her the Arkansas CMA Female Vocalist of the Year award — not once, but twice.

The momentum only escalated from there. In 2023, Estes unveiled her debut EP, Before the Record, produced by hitmaker Paul Sikes. This six-song compilation captured the essence of her heartful storytelling and robust vocals. Recognizing her potential, industry giants like Big Machine Records, WME Agency, Kobalt Music, and Blue Bronco Entertainment eagerly added her to their rosters. This flurry of signings did not go unnoticed in her home state, where she was honored with the Arkansas CMA Female Vocalist of the Year for a third consecutive year.

Mae Estes’s performances have graced some of the most lauded stages and events, from the NHL Stadium Series to the PBR Stadium Series, to the home of country music itself, the Grand Ole Opry — fulfilling her lifelong dream with her debut there in March 2023. Alongside these personal triumphs, Estes has made it her mission to give back, particularly to servicemen and women. Her international tours with Armed Forces Entertainment and CreatiVets showcase her commitment to those who serve.

As Mae Estes’s star continues to rise, she re-released her debut EP as Before the Record (Recycled) and was celebrated as a member of the CMT Next Women of Country Class of 2024. In January 2024, she joined the Head Full of Noise Tour with Jackson Dean, and her fans eagerly anticipate the new music that will accompany her ever-evolving career. Mae Estes’s journey may have begun in the heart of Arkansas, but her storytelling, resilience, and resonant voice have already taken her far beyond its borders — and she’s just getting started.

Label: Big Machine Label Group (BMLG)
Hometown: Hope, AR
Current City: Nashville, Tennessee
Hot Release (s): “Thinkin’ ‘Bout Cheatin'”; “Hell You Raised”; “Roses”
Musical Influences: Keith Whitley, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, The Judds, Merle Haggard, Patsy Cline, Patty Loveless
If You Like: Hannah Dasher, Priscilla Block, Ashland Craft
KEEP UP WITH MAE ESTES: Instagram/TikTok: @MaeEstes

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