10 New Country Artists You Need to Know: March 2016

From a country Ed Sheeran to a protégée of Willie Nelson

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Levi Hummon
Joseph Llanes, Tracy Leboe6/10

Levi Hummon

Sounds Like: a country Ed Sheeran; Thomas Rhett, if his Tangled Up album was influenced by Sheeran and 5 Seconds of Summer instead of Memphis and Motown

For Fans of: Clean and crisp country-pop; Keith Urban; Brett Eldredge with Justin Bieber's vocal range

Why You Should Pay Attention: Growing up in Nashville to a father heavily embedded in Music Row (his dad is Marcus Hummon, a Grammy-wining writer for Tim McGraw), Levi Hummon wasn't always convinced he wanted to be a musician, even escaping Tennessee altogether to study the visual arts at a Florida college. But when songwriting's in your DNA, it can't be ignored and after sophomore year, Hummon ditched the Sunshine State to come back to his hometown and focus on music for good. The gamble paid off: the tune he wrote with his pops, "Make It Love"(from the film Two: The Story of Roman & Nyro), was shortlisted for an Oscar, and cemented a relationship with the movie's writer, Desmond Child, known more for his work with Katy Perry and Bon Jovi than any country stars. As a result, the songs from Hummon's forthcoming EP, due in April, are youthful, catchy and cool.

He Says: "As a singer-songwriter, it's important for me to write songs, because it's the best way I can tell my story," says Hummon, who composed four out of five tracks on his EP. "But I also want to have the best songs. I talked to Thomas Rhett one time on the road — he spoke about the process of being both a songwriter and artist, and wanting to have the best album possible. And he said if he did choose an [outside] song, it would have to be something he could relate to and make his own, and he really sold me on that."

Hear for Yourself: Though his new material is bigger and bolder than the sweetness of "Make It Love," it's a solid introduction to the pop sheen of his point-of-view. M.M.

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