Walker Hayes cemented his position as one of country music’s most important emerging artists with a killer performance at the 2022 CRS New Faces of Country Music show in downtown Nashville on Friday night (February 25).
The singer delivered a set that was equal parts progressive and classic country, starting with “Drinking Songs” and working through his current single, “AA,” as well as his 2021 hit, “Fancy Like.”
Hayes possesses an Everyman quality that is one of the keys to his appeal, and his hook-laden, well-arranged songs tend to instantly stick and stay with the listener. This juxtaposition is a winner and made her set one of the most enjoyable of the night, but the highlight of her set was actually a song that went against the grain of the rest of her material. Hayes accompanied himself on acoustic guitar and showed off some well-developed chops when he closed his set with “Briefcase,” an emotional ode to his father.
Lainey Wilson was another highlight of an evening filled with highlights. The breakout country star took to the stage wearing her signature bell bottoms after a hilarious intro video that featured cameos from Hardy, Cole Swindell, Jimmie Allen and Tracy Lawrence, kicking off her set with the acapella vocal intro opener to Queen’s “Fat Bottomed Girls” before moving on to “Straight Up Sideways”.
She also performed her breakthrough hit, “Things a Man Oughta Know,” before closing her show with what she announced would be her next single, “Heart Like a Truck.” Wilson gave an exuberant stage performance that showed a natural mastery of the stage, and the seasoned crowd of industry insiders gave him an exceptionally warm reception.
Parker McCollum and his arena-ready band delivered an exceptionally strong and tightly packed set of rock-leaning country songs, beginning with “To Be Loved by You,” one of the strongest individual songs of the evening. He followed up with “Pretty Heart” before stripping down for a heartfelt performance of “Hell of a Year,” but the highlight of McCollum’s set was undoubtedly his closing song. “I Can’t Breathe” is a slow, heavy ballad that relies heavily on its emotional vocal delivery, and McCollum’s powerful performance earned him a standing ovation from the assembled radio executives and cast members. music industry. McCollum is set to tour with Thomas Rhett in 2022, but it’s not hard to predict he’ll be headlining his own arena shows for the next few years.
Gabby Barrett has certainly grown since her first CRS appearances after her run on american idol in 2018. Not only did she score several massive hits on country radio, but she also gained a new found confidence and poise on stage and it was evident in her Friday night performance.
Barrett stepped out with “Jesus and My Mama,” and she performed “The Good Ones” and “Pick Me Up” before she and her husband and guitarist, Cade Foehner, picked up the pace to deliver an acoustic rendition of “How Great You are.” Barrett has even more range and control over her hugely powerful vocal instrument than she did a few years ago, and she showed it to the max on the heartfelt anthem before closing her set with her career-launching hit, ” I Hope”.
Jameson Rodgers gave one of the fiercest performances on Friday night, opening with his upbeat “Cold Beer Calling My Name” and running through “Some Girls” before delivering a cover of one of his own hits as a songwriter, Chris Lane’s “I Don’t Know About You.”
Rodgers showed off not only his own vocal talents, but those of his entire band when he borrowed the harmony vocal intro from The Eagles’ “Seven Bridges Road” to open his latest song, “Missing One.”
The 2022 CRS New Faces of Country Music show took place in the Broadway Ballroom of the Omni Hotel in downtown Nashville. The annual showcase of the country’s hottest rising stars has become a rite of passage for many of country music’s future biggest artists over the decades. The show caps the annual Country Radio Seminar, an industry-only event that brings together radio programmers from around the country, labels, publicists, artists and journalists for three days of talks, performances, meetings, interviews and panels that help set the agenda for the rest of the year in country music.
PHOTOS: Go behind the scenes at the CRS New Faces of Country Music Show 2022
The 2022 Country Radio Seminar culminated with the CRS New Faces of Country Music show on February 25. contemporary country music artists.