CMT Names Its 2019 'Listen Up' Class of Promising Newcomers, Including Mitchell Tenpenny and Tenille Townes

Tenille Townes
Jessica Steddom

Tenille Townes

CMT has picked its slate of 2019 Listen Up artists. The newcomers will be spotlighted across CMT’s platforms for the coming year. 

CMT’s 2019 Listen Up artists are Brandon Lay, Dillon Carmichael, Gone West, HARDY, Ingrid Andress, Kylie Morgan, Lainey Wilson, Mitchell Tenpenny, Nick Wayne, Rachel Wammack, Riley Green, Ruston Kelly and Tenille Townes.

Though all are new artists, their range of accomplishments varies. Tenpenny’s “Drunk Me” reached No. 2 on Billboard’s Country Airplay Chart for the week ending Dec. 15. He is one of several artists, including Townes, Wammack and Lay, signed to major labels. Four of the acts — Wayne, Carmichael, Gone West and Kylie Morgan — are unsigned.

The program promotes the artists through highlighting their new music and videos across all CMT platforms. Additionally, their singles are added to CMT’s Spotify and Apple Music playlists, and the artists are booked for CMT events and tapings.    

“This year’s CMT Listen Up list continues to lean on the amazing, diverse music coming out of Nashville - from independent to major label artists,” says Leslie Fram, CMT’s senior vp of music and talent. “At CMT we pride ourselves on connecting fans with country music’s most promising rising talent, and we will support these artists throughout 2019 on all CMT platforms.”   

Courtesy Photo

A number of the artists participate in other CMT programs as well. Andress, Wilson, Wammack and Townes are all part of the 2019 class of CMT’s Next Women of Country. Wammack is part of CMT on Tour with Brett Young and Tyler Rich. 

Since 2011, CMT’s Listen Up franchise has helped launch the careers of now-established hitmakers, including Brett Eldredge, Cole Swindell, Dustin Lynch, Jon Pardi, Kacey Musgraves, Kelsea Ballerini, Maren Morris and RaeLynn. The 2017 class included breakout acts Carly Pearce, Luke Combs and Midland.

Listen Up and Next Women of Country are among the programs CMT operates to support emerging country artists. As an expansion of its Artist Discovery program, in November, CMT launched a year-long mentorship program that entails hosting 12 unsigned developing artists in its CMT studio in Nashville to record demos with leading country producers. Once the demos are recorded, each artist will meet with mentors comprised of industry leaders. Though the program is not affiliated with any label, CMT expects that through the mentorship program, artists will be able to play their music to label A&R representatives.