Written by Brett Gibbons
Country music is filled with vocal talent– more so than any other genre. It’s part of the reason we love it so much. Many legends of the industry like Carrie Underwood have hung their hat on having voices that are nearly unexplainable. The old trope being, “They could sing the dictionary and make it a hit” hangs true.
Disclaimer: Preferences affect the way we perceive “vocal talent.” However, these six upcoming artists– in no particular order– are undeniably ridiculous.
Go ahead and play Middle Finger in the car and try to sing along. It’s a great song and, if you know the lyrics, it’s impossible not to try and hit those notes. Lainey Wilson makes it seem easy with her soprano vocals and thick Louisiana twang.
She peppers in voice growls and slides across octaves with ease and writes killer songs that really exercise her range. If you get a chance to see her live (like we did at Jason Aldean’s in October, 2019– pictured), you’ll know she’s all talent. There’s no postproduction correction going on.
Drake White takes a traditional folksy approach to his music and a gospel approach on his vocals. On tunes like It Feels Good and Makin’ Me Look Good Again, White dang near blows out the microphone. Instead of having a huge range, he has a powerful voice that’s frequently exercised.
White also has incredible stamina on his notes, holding some of them for 15 to 20 seconds and sliding all over the scale with them. For having a middle-range voice, he’s capable and comfortable singing deep and low.
There may not be a more vocally-talented human being on Earth today. Cody Johnson’s got it all– range, power, butter– it’s all there. His tracks Never Go Home Again, Long Haired Country Boy, and Ocean of Whiskey show off his extreme gravel and power while tracks like Nothin On You and I Know My Way Back are built on his range.
No matter the amount of tracks and YouTube videos you listen to, nothing beats hearing the Texas cowboy live. His stage presence, song writing, and vocal prowess are really something to behold. When it’s all said and done, he won’t just be one of the greatest vocalists of all time, but a true country music legend.
Similar to Cody Johnson, Lauren Alaina makes you sit down and go, “wow.” She’s exploded onto the country music stage in the past couple years with appearances on HARDY’s One Beer and with her own album, Getting Over Him. Alaina has vocals akin to Carrie Underwood herself, leaning heavily on power and her higher range.
She’s been making appearances on tracks for years now, highlighted by features with Jon Pardi (Don’t Blame It On Whiskey), Kane Brown (What If’s), and Dustin Lynch (Thinking ‘Bout You). However, the talent was too much to ignore and Alaina is quickly becoming one of the most well-known voices in country music.
Of all the voices on this list, Chris Stapleton might be the most recognizable. His gritty, gravelly, one-of-a-kind vocals are an instant attention grabber. Stapleton, once the lead singer of the Steeldrivers, released his first album since 2017 this past month in Starting Over.
One listen to Arkansas will tell you everything you need to know about what Chris Stapleton is capable of. He’s one of the most-streamed country artists (Tennessee Whiskey has over 335,000,000 streams on Spotify) and also one of the most-respected, too. He’s asserted himself as a legendary vocalist and Stapleton’s got plenty of years ahead of him.
There’s a reason Luke Combs went from Vine star to country music superstar in under four years– the man’s got pipes. His traditional country style is extremely pleasing and appeases even non-country fans, but he leaves plenty of room to belt on his tracks.
Honky Tonk Highway, Beer Never Broke My Heart, and Lovin’ On You really stretch the realm of possibility when it comes to the human voice. Combs is country music’s King Midas; everything he touches turns to gold. His extreme power behind his vocals is what sets him apart from almost every up-and-comer.
Drew Parker– Take a listen to When I’m Gone and you’ll see why he’s not far behind this crop.
Kaitlin Butts– An up-and-comer from Texas, Butts captures the attention with her instantly-recognizable vocals akin to Kacey Musgraves and Taylor Swift.