10 New Country Artists You Need to Know: February 2016

From a singer-songwriter with a panoramic approach to country, to a Loretta Lynn for the Instagram generation

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Tara Thompson
10
Amanda Van Sandt7/10

Tara Thompson

Sounds Like: Loretta Lynn for the Instagram generation

For Fans of: Kacey Musgraves, Nikki Lane, Miranda Lambert

Why You Should Pay Attention: Thompson grew up studying one of her country idols from backstage. Lynn is her third cousin and a major influence on Thompson's songs rooted in true stories. ("Pregnant at the Prom" was inspired by her own mother.) At 18, this "hillbilly from East Tennessee" peeled out of her tiny hometown of Sevierville (birthplace of Dolly Parton) for Nashville, where she cut her teeth at the iconic honky-tonk Tootsie's Orchid Lounge. Her tenacity paid off: Scott Borchetta recently signed Thompson to his Big Machine Label Group, whose Valory Music Co. imprint will release Thompson's debut album later this year. She's currently on the road with Jennifer Nettles and Brandy Clark as part of CMT's Next Women of Country Tour.

She Says: "When I first started writing with other people, I'd go in and say, 'All right, here's the deal: It's gotta be really country, no pop, and there can't be no man-bashing. Because if anyone is cheating, it's gonna be me, by God. And no love songs.' I actually got fired from Tootsie's because my set was just too old-school. I saw Loretta the other day and told her that I finally got a record deal, and she said, 'It's about damn time!'"

Hear for Yourself: Feisty new single "Someone to Take Your Place," with the killer line "I'll have two Coronas/one for me/one for the hot girl I just turned in to." J.R.

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