This fall season comes bursting with highly-anticipated releases, from Lil Wayne‘s long-awaited Tha Carter V to a debut album from H.E.R. But it won’t be long before fresh talents like Mitchell Tenpenny, Natti Natasha and more hit the radar, too — at least according to the fellow artists and industry folk here.
Meghan Trainor: [Fox’s The Four season one winner] Evvie McKinney!! She is a force to be reckoned with! Her voice is one-of-a-kind and she was born to be on stage!
Zane Lowe, host, Beats 1: Juice WRLD is happening faster than I’ve seen before. He’s a breakout streaming story and his music is unshakable near the top of our charts alongside massive artists. The numbers are big, the features are coming in and the shows are getting bigger. He’s up next.
Rafe Offer, founder and CEO, Sofar Sounds: Nilüfer Yanya is a London-based singer and guitarist who has a beautiful, emotionally vulnerable voice that creates songs that are both soulful and playful at the same time. This year, she’s been on tour with Fleet Foxes and Interpol and had a full summer festival schedule. I can see her following in the steps of other great British songstresses like Lianne La Havas, Adele and Jessie Ware.
Matt Wilkinson, host, Beats 1: Slowthai cuts through like no one else in Britain right now. And he could only really come from here — with this intense mix of swagger and pure unpredictability. He’s like [The Prodigy frontman] Keith Flint for the post-Skepta generation.
Travis Mills: My money is definitely on Gunna. He has a dropped a slew of mixtapes that have captivated audiences from multiple demographics. Every feature is building him as an artist and he never disappoints. His feature on Astroworld with Travis Scott proves he’s a force that’s here to stay.
Walter Jones, vp, creative, Universal Music Publishing Group: City Girls — JT and Yung Miami are featured on Drake’s Scorpion album. The rap duo is a strong cultural representation of female point of view from Florida. I believe their impact on popular culture will begin to shine in 2019.
Billie Eilish: Duckwrth has the most unique sound right now and his stage presence is out of this world. He will rule the world.
Leslie Fram, senior vp, music and talent, CMT: Tenille Townes — Her Living Room Worktapes EP is a piece of art! Her unique voice and storytelling sets her apart, just listen to “Jersey On The Wall” — you’ll have it on repeat.
Adam Mersel, manager to Bebe Rexha, First Access Entertainment: Alec Benjamin is an honest lyricist and melodic wizard with a special point of view and message for young adults globally. His genuine hustle and motivation to touch those around him is infectious, and he’s poised to go the distance this year.
Clarence Spalding, manager to Jason Aldean, Darius Rucker, Reba McEntire, Spalding Entertainment/Maverick: All the signals for breaking through in big way are there for Mitchell Tenpenny. He writes from a different point of view and delivers with a performance that is unforgettable.
Brett Young: I think Mitchell Tenpenny is going to have a big year. He’s got an incredible and soulful voice, and he’s a great songwriter. I’m a big fan and am looking forward to seeing him take off.
Ben Vaughn, president, Warner/Chappell Nashville: Been watching Danielle Bradbery stay the course in building her musical career post The Voice — very impressed with the real music that she’s been making, especially winning fans one by one in the songwriting room. I think this new duet “Goodbye Summer” with Thomas Rhett will be massive and put this talented human on everyone’s radar.
Jean Nelson, president, Blueprint Group: Tone Stith is bringing a fresh perspective to R&B music. He is the new generation and brings a mixture to the classic genre with a young twist of what the kids are listening to now. And Jay Critch is gearing up to be one of the biggest breakthrough artists this year. His fanbase is growing every day. He is an example of new age artists who is not solely relying on radio but the true fan experiences with sold out shows like Irving Plaza.
Michel Vega, CEO, Magnus: Rosalía. She is exquisite. Composer, actress, contemporary dancer, singer, performer… a consummate artist. I’m truly excited to see her flourish.
Bruno del Granado, agent, CAA: Rosalía. The way they’re pitching her, the way they’re positioning her, she’s an artist that could break out also in the mainstream. The other artist I think will blow up is Sebastian Yatra. He has the talent, and the way they’re working him very seriously.
Henry Cardenas, CEO, CMN: Anuel AA. I think he’s going to break out. His entire story — the fact that he was in jail, that his album did so well, and that everybody wants to record with him — underscores huge interest in him. For now we’re only booking 8-10 dates with him.
I’m also excited about Manuel Turizo. This is an 18-year-old kid, super popular. There’s a demand for him in every single country. He is performing every single weekend throughout Latin America, from Chile, to Colombia, Peru, Ecuador.
Finally, Isabela Moner just landed the part of Dora in Dora the Explorer and signed with Republic. She’s 16 years old, Peruvian. She starred with Ricky Martin in Evita and has an extraordinary voice, and she just recorded a duet with Yatra.
ODESZA (Harrison Mills & Clayton Knight): Evan Giia is the artist we’re watching going in to 2019. Her sound is a really refreshing take on pop/electronic music and her live show is incredibly engaging. She’s got the talent, work ethic, and songwriting to succeed at the next level.
Emily Warren: Bülow’s music strikes a balance between being accessible and yet still unique and completely her own. Her songs like “Not a Love Song” and “You & Jennifer” are lyrically, melodically, and sonically super fresh and captivating, and I seriously cannot wait to hear what comes next… BIG TINGZ!!!
Jesus Lara, president, Univision Radio: We are really into Natti Natasha. I think she’s a complete package. She’s super engaging, she’s obviously beautiful, she’s surrounded by great producers and the stuff she’s been releasing is on fire. And I think there’s a huge void for rhythmic female singers.
The other one is Karol G. She has a new hot as hell remix with J Balvin and Nicky Jam. I think she’s going to be huge in Q4 and beyond. She’s done a few of our Euphoria shows. I think she’ll have a very big end of year.
It’s really exciting for me that we now have Latina singers to stand on their own and sort of create their own path. Our market has been dominated by male singers longer than we should have. Between Karol and Natti it’s the beginning of some female pop stars.
On the male side, the one we’re very excited about is Manuel Turizo. This kid has an amazing voice, it’s really distinctive, he’s super young, he can play both in the rhythmic and pop worlds. He’s the full package.
Jonathan McHugh, music supervisor/producer, J2 Films: I recently saw Bohemian Rhapsody and I realized how timeless and ahead of its time some of Queen’s music was. When it first came out it was laughed at by the critics and as a kid growing up in NYC I never took it seriously like I did icons like Led Zeppelin and the New York Dolls. But it still feels fresh and weird as it did in both in 1976 and 1992 when it was released, and could become a hit single again as the driver for the film.