Since 2013, CMT has worked to raise the profiles of up-and-coming female artists with their CMT Next Women of Country initiative. The music network has now revealed the acts they have selected to comprise the Class of 2016. Representing a combination of signed and unsigned artists and a wide range of country-music artistry, the Class of 2016 — as revealed exclusively to Rolling Stone Country — includes Caitlyn Smith, Jamie Lynn Spears, Jillian Jacqueline, Kree Harrison, Logan Brill, Lucie Silvas, Maggie Rose, Margo Price and, for the first time, two all-female trios: Post Monroe and Runaway June.
“We’re so thrilled to introduce this incredibly talented and diverse mix of female artists to the Next Women franchise,” says Leslie Fram, CMT’s SVP of Music Strategy and Talent. “With the full support of the industry behind us, we continue to see this initiative make a real difference in propelling female artists into the spotlight.”
Brill, Jacqueline, Price, Silvas, Smith and Post Monroe have all previously been tipped for stardom among Rolling Stone Country‘s “10 Artists You Need to Know,” with Price earning that distinction in 2014 and having released this year’s critically acclaimed Midwest Farmer’s Daughter. Spears and Harrison have both had singing careers since childhood, with the latter first gaining attention as an American Idol contestant. In addition to several chart hits, Maggie Rose is an Emmy-winner for her TV football theme song, “Get Ya Game On.”
Several past Next Women of Country have proven themselves as distinguished alumnae, including the Class of 2015’s Maren Morris, whose debut album, Hero, hit Number One in its first week, Kelsea Ballerini, who scored three chart-topping hits from her debut LP, and Kacey Musgraves, a member of the inaugural class of 2013, who has won several ACM, CMA and Grammy awards since releasing her first LP, Same Trailer Different Park.
CMT launched two female-fueled tours in 2015 and 2016 with Jana Kramer, Kelsea Ballerini, Jennifer Nettles, Brandy Clark, Lindsay Ell and Tara Thompson, and expanded the franchise with the introduction of “Next Women of Country LIVE,” a weekly digital series which featured exclusive performances from 20 of the ladies from prior classes. Each of the next class members also has the potential to be included on the third edition of the CMT Next Women of Country Tour in 2017. In addition, the network pledges year-round support on-air (CMT and CMT Music), as well as through CMT.com and the network’s social-media platforms.