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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Lily Meola
Tracy Leboe7/10

Lily Meola

Sounds Like: Bobbie Gentry and Joni Mitchell went on a vacation to Hawaii together

For Fans of: Jamey Johnson, Willie Nelson, Maren Morris

Why You Should Pay Attention: Because Willie Nelson says so. The bluesy, soulful Meola grew up on Maui, where she met the Red Headed Stranger; their families knew each other. After Nelson heard the ingénue perform in a local café, he handed her a napkin with some song titles scribbled on it, suggestions of duets they play together. "Will You Remember Mine" from that list appears on They Say, her album out March 6th. Nelson's sons Lukas and Micah join a cast of other big names supporting the 21-year-old's debut. The Lukas-penned "L.A." is four perfect minutes of heartache, while Kris Kristofferson shows up to duet on his iconic "Me and Bobby McGee."

She Says: The island vibe is an essential part of who Meola is. "Everyone on Maui has just been so supportive. I don't know if I would still be a singer if I hadn't grown up there." But don't expect some Don Ho-style ukulele sound from this powerhouse. "I've been listening to Chris Stapleton a lot and I love how he can be soulful and country. That's where I want to be."

Hear for Yourself: The metaphoric "Bad Weather," which Meola wrote. M.L.

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