Runaway June, Ingrid Andress & More Shine at CRS 2020 New Faces Showcase
The three-day Country Radio Seminar 2020 closed Friday (Feb. 21) with the 50th annual New Faces of Country Music Show, which highlighted the genre’s most promising new talent.
The three-day Country Radio Seminar 2020 closed on Friday (Feb. 21) with the 50th annual New Faces of Country Music Show, which highlighted the genre’s most promising new talent. Ingrid Andress, Morgan Evans, Riley Green, Runaway June and Mitchell Tenpenny were voted onto the show by America’s top country radio programmers and performed a short set to CRS attendees at Nashville’s Omni Hotel.
The evening marked the 50th anniversary of the showcase and each artist’s personality came to life during humorous video clips played for the room of radio executives before each act took the stage. While Runaway June and Andress impressed with the empowering “Buy My Own Drinks” and the heartfelt “More Hearts Than Mine,” Green, Evans and Tenpenny each shared their unique brand of country music with the audience.
Green launched the evening with a four-song set that included his infectious debut single “There Was This Girl.” Mid-song, he thanked those in the room for its success at country radio. Green then garnered laughter from the crowd prefacing his next song “If It Wasn’t a Truck” by saying, “I really wanted to do something nobody else has ever done before, so I wrote a song about a truck. But not just about a truck, a song about what a truck did to me growing up where I grew up.”
He wrapped his four-song set with the autobiographical title track to his debut album, Different ’Round Here, and his heartfelt current single “I Wish Grandpas Never Died.”
Andress followed suit by receiving praise for her songwriting in a video message from Tim McGraw, Dan + Shay, Thomas Rhett and Keith Urban. Her four-song set stunned with the confessional “Both,” the vulnerable “The Stranger,” the triumphant “Lady Like” and the poignant debut single “More Hearts Than Mine.”
She shared her humor with the audience, confessing that she writes “mostly sad songs” before admitting that she doesn’t drink beer and drives a Mini Copper, making it really hard to relate to all the truck songs within the genre.
“Country is a huge family that actually wants everybody to do well and that’s so unique from any other genre,” Andress said ahead of thanking radio for playing “More Hearts Than Mine.” “That is so rare, even with how our society works nowadays. It’s like every man for himself. Country is the one thing left that everybody’s like, ‘You know what? No. I want you to do well.’ And that’s really dope.”
Australia native Evans later took the stage with his American band for a high-energy set that included his first U.S. single “Kiss Somebody” and the infectious new release “Diamonds.” The most powerful moment came during his stripped down performance of “Things That We Drink To” as he sat at his piano and recalled visiting CRS years prior with his late manager Rob Potts, who he credits as “the first person in the world that believed in me besides my mom and dad.”
“He brought me in and told me the significance of this show tonight. We didn’t have tickets or anything, we just stood by the door and listened in. I always understood the significance since then and am so grateful to be here … I feel like Rob would be pretty happy tonight looking down on all of this,” Evans said.
Runaway June kicked off their performance with a comical video clip that included an elaborate story of their missing fourth member — June, who apparently “ran away” from the band — which boasted cameos from Carrie Underwood and Jon Pardi. The trio’s harmonies soared on ear-grabbing power ballads like “Trouble With This Town” and “Head Over Heels,” both featured on their debut album, Blue Roses, while the heartfelt “We Were Rich” struck a chord with Naomi Cooke on lead vocals. The women closed out with their top 5 single “Buy My Own Drinks” as they thanked country radio for playing the song.
“You are the entire reason we are here tonight. We cannot thank you enough. We feel so much support from each and every one of you,” Jennifer Wayne said.
Tenpenny closed the evening with a memorable set that included cameos from labelmates Seaforth on “Anything She Says,” as well as a stunning vocal performance of newly released “Can’t Go to Church.” The poignant “Walk Like Him,” which he penned following his father’s death to cancer, left an impact before he picked up the energy with “Slow Ride” which featured rapping from his brother. He ended his set with “Drunk Me,” which peaked at No. 2 on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart, but not before thanking country radio for getting it there.
“This is a huge honor. Y’all changed my life with this next song,” Tenpenny said. “I literally would not be anywhere without you guys. We are so grateful, thank you so much. This is amazing and we’re never going to forget this so thank you for the chance.”
This year’s Country Radio Seminar ran Feb. 19-21 at Nashville’s Omni Hotel.