Country Perspective’s 2015 Female Artist of the Year Nominees

Over the course of 2015 we saw many talented female country and Americana artists put out fantastic albums. Determining who will win Country Perspective’s 2015 Female Artist of the Year award will be no easy feat. The main guidelines for determining who should win are the following: the quality of music they’ve released in 2015, the impact they have made on the genre over the course of the year and the amount of growth they made as an individual artist.

Derek and myself will ultimately determine which artist will win, but we also want to hear from you the readers who is deserving of the award. Your comments will be highly considered for determining who wins and you could possibly sway who should be the winner. So be sure to sound off in the comments! Without further ado the nominees for Country Perspective’s 2015 Female Artist of Year (in alphabetical order):

Brandi Carlile

Brandi Carlile

One of the most underrated albums of the year has to be Brandi Carlile’s The Firewatcher’s Daughter. Blurring the lines between country, rock and Americana Carlile delivers music that touches the mind and heart. She’s a truly great artist that deserves more attention. As I said in my review of her newest album:

The Firewatcher’s Daughter is an album you’ll need to hear multiple times to fully grasp, but trust me it’s well worth it. Carlile’s dynamic voice and the cornucopia of genres mixed together make for one hell of an album. While Music Row continues to push cookie cutter female artists who produce music that panders to the latest fad, there are talented female artists outside that bubble like Carlile making innovative music. Some people will call this album a rock album. Others will say it’s alternative or a country album. Does it really matter though? This is just great music that any music fan can appreciate.

Kacey Musgraves

Kacey Musgraves Pageant Material

I feel like Kacey Musgraves sort of got lost in the fray in 2015. Throughout 2013 and 2014 she received lots of critical praise and awards from multiple outlets for her major debut album Same Trailer, Different Park. One of the big reasons why I think this happened is because her sophomore album Pageant Material didn’t have the incendiary political commentary that attracted so many outside fans and media outlets with her first album. That’s a damn shame because I felt like Pageant Material was not only a better album, but a big step forward for Kacey. I don’t think she liked all of the political attention, even though it really helped elevate her close friends Shane McAnally and Brandy Clark. Kacey considers herself just a “dimestore cowgirl” who loves to make authentic country music and that’s the place she wants to be going forward. And she’s still having plenty of success without any support from country radio.

Lindi Ortega

Lindi Ortega Faded Gloryville

Like Kacey Musgraves, Lindi Ortega has generated her own critical buzz in recent years. Her previous album Tin Star was called by many one of the best country albums of 2013. So the anticipation and hype going into her new album this year was certainly high. While Faded Gloryville didn’t quite live up to its hype, it was still a very good album full of solid music. While many mainstream female country artists love to sing about pleasing their man, Ortega sings about what pleases herself and doesn’t pander to stereotypes. She goes against the grain and sets a great example for young female listeners everywhere. Not to mention, she wrote a great piece on women in country music after the TomatoGate incident.

Tami Neilson 

Tami Neilson Don't Be Afraid

For the second straight year Tami Neilson finds herself on many of our year-end awards list. And for great reason, as she once again delivered one of the best country albums of the year. Don’t Be Afraid copes with the loss of a loved one (Tami’s father) and how to deal with this heartache and the memories you had of them. Neilson’s big and dynamic voice is capable of belting out the loudest and softest of songs, conveying the perfect amount of emotion to connect with the listener. While I don’t think many music outlets in the U.S. give her the respectable amount of attention she deserves, her home country New Zealand certainly does. Not too many artists can deliver great albums in back-to-back years, but Neilson has done it and that makes her favorite to win this award.

Whitney Rose

Whitney Rose Heartbreaker of the Year

We saw a lot of great new artists burst onto the scene from country and Americana this year. One of the best was undoubtedly Whitney Rose. Hailing from Canada, Rose teamed up with smooth-voiced frontman of The Mavericks, Raul Malo, to make her sophomore record Heartbreaker of the Year. And when you combine two great minds like this, magic happens. Heartbreaker of the Year is one of the most uniquely sounding and creative country albums I’ve heard this year. Infusing retro pop with classic, traditional country, Rose delivers stirring love ballads and quirky stories. She more than holds her own singing next to Malo on “Be My Baby” too. What’s crazy is I don’t think this is even her best work and it’s still yet to come.

Who do you think should win? Be sure to comment below. 

Country Perspective’s 2015 Male Artist of the Year Nominees

Over the course of 2015 we saw many talented male country and Americana artists put out fantastic albums. Determining who will win Country Perspective’s 2015 Male Artist of the Year award will be no easy feat. The main guidelines for determining who should win are the following: the quality of music they’ve released in 2015, the impact they have made on the genre over the course of the year and the amount of growth they made as an individual artist.

Derek and myself will ultimately determine which artist will win, but we also want to hear from you the readers who is deserving of the award. Your comments will be highly considered for determining who wins and you could possibly sway who should be the winner. So be sure to sound off in the comments! Without further ado the nominees for Country Perspective’s 2015 Male Artist of Year (in alphabetical order):

Chris Stapleton

Chris Stapleton Traveller

The biggest critical darling and hottest artist in country music right now certainly has a case to win and is probably the favorite for many. His debut album Traveller racked up the awards at the 2015 CMA Awards and has garnered a few more nominations for the 2016 Grammy Awards. Many sites are calling it the best country album of the year and it very well could be declared the best by us too. Stapleton has no doubt made an impact this year also, as his current single “Nobody to Blame” is steadily moved up the country airplay charts. And most importantly I think he’s made a lot of his peers in mainstream country music think twice about the music they’re making.

Don Henley 

Don Henley Cass County

The face of the Eagles decided to try his hand at making a country record and ended up producing one of the best country albums of the year. Henley clearly put a lot of thought into this venture and the love and cares shines through the music as you listen to it. While it is a country record, it also has made an impact on Americana as he was recognized this year at the Americana Awards and will probably be nominated for numerous awards at next year’s show. It’s currently still charting in the top 15 of the Americana Airplay chart too. The music of the Eagles catches a lot of flack, but even the most jaded haters of the Eagles have to acknowledge the artistry displayed on Cass County.

Eric Church

Eric Church Mr. Misunderstood

Nobody was expecting new music from Eric Church in 2015 and lo behold in the midst of the 2015 CMA Awards Church surprise released his new album Mr. Misunderstood. I went into this album not expecting a great record, as Church’s last album The Outsiders left me with a sour taste and confusion as to the amount of critical acclaim it received. Well he completely blew my expectations away, as he released arguably the best mainstream country album of 2015. It was the Eric Church I had been waiting to hear for a while, as he stripped back the production and made it about the music itself. The album’s title track and lead single is well on its way to being a #1 song and I have feeling this album could produce multiple #1 songs. Like Stapleton, I think Church could help lead the way for the genre going into 2016.

Jason Isbell 

Jason Isbell Something More Than Free

The King of Americana did not disappoint with his new album Something More Than Free. It was another album of great music from Isbell. What people didn’t expect is the impact it would make on the charts, as it reached #1 on the country chart, folk chart and rock chart. It sat at #1 on the Americana chart for months and still sits at #3 as of this writing, five months after it’s release. Isbell also nabbed two nominations at the 2016 Grammy Awards and could easily win both. With Americana’s stature rising and country being forced to pay attention to independent artists more, Jason Isbell is sitting pretty right now and could raise his own legacy even higher going forward.

Whitey Morgan

Whitey Morgan Sonic Ranch

The gritty, outlaw country artist from Detroit came onto a lot of people’s radars in 2015. His new album Sonic Ranch is considered by many fans and critics to be one of the best country albums of the year. For those looking for country music in the style of 70s country, Whitey Morgan is this fan’s ideal modern artist and the closest we have to Waylon Jennings. While he didn’t have quite the Sturgill Simpson breakout I thought he could have, he’s set himself up to have it with his next album and could become one of the top names in the independent country realm. After releasing his most complete album yet, Whitey Morgan has a really bright future ahead.