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Emerging Female Artists in Nashville

Meet four up-and-coming female artists who are only growing in popularity and talent.

Written By:  Valerie Hammond, Lindsay Williams, Katy Lindenmuth & Kelsey Haugen

Photographers:  Supplied

Lucy Hale

Best known for her role as Aria Montgomery on the hit ABC Family series Pretty Little Liars, Lucy Hale is eager to share her lifelong love of country music with fans on her debut album, Road Between, releasing June 3 on DMG Nashville. Produced by Mark Bright (Carrie Underwood) and Mike Daly (Grace Potter and The Nocturnals), Hale’s first outing was recorded at Nashville’s Blackbird and Starstruck Studios. More at lucyhale.com

Who was the first artist(s) you looked up to or wanted to grow up to be like?
I grew up in Memphis idolizing Martina McBride, Shania Twain and Faith Hill. Initially, it was just their strong vocals; Martina is one of the best singers in the world. They always had fantastic songs, but also really had a strong sense of self. I always felt that they were strong, powerful women who stood for something and didn’t just fit into the mold of what a female artist should be.

With all of the success you’ve found in acting, why did you feel like this was the right time to record an album?
I moved to LA in hopes of pursuing music when I was 15, and obviously, it didn’t happen then. I’ve been working on the album for about two years. Even when I got signed, I knew it was the right time, but it took a little bit to get my footing. I knew I wanted to do country, but [I had] to figure out where I was going to fit in and what I was going to say… Two years later, it’s coming out and I’m grateful for the time that it took.

What was it like recording your debut in Nashville?
I always knew I wanted to make a country album, and I knew that you can only make a country album in Nashville because the best players are here, the best writers are here; and so I was just really fortunate to get to work with some incredible people. The music scene is unlike any other place in the world, and so it was just nice to get back to my roots.

Any specific milestones that would mark success for you?
I would love to do a US tour, international tour and make as many albums as possible. Becoming a member of the Opry would be pretty incredible too…

Listen Live: Enjoy a Grand Ole Opry show with Lucy, Saturday, June 21 at 7 p.m.

Maggie Chapman

Download Maggie's exclusive track,"Give Me A Minute"

As a rule, Maggie Chapman gets things done ahead of schedule. The Florida native began writing songs at age nine and taught herself the piano at 12; on her 13th birthday, she recorded her first song at a local studio—a gift from her parents. That eight-minute demo led to a meeting in New York City and to a co-writing session with Grammy-winning producer Luke Laird, who eventually signed her to his publishing label, Creative Nation. But long before that, Chapman was hooked on Nashville and “meeting people who understand this thing that keeps me up every night,” she says. Her genre-defying debut EP (Maggie Chapman), released in February, just might do that. Chapman’s currently plotting the fall release of her first full-length… and true to form, more than half of the songs have been recorded for months. More at maggiechapmanmusic.com

When did you first know music was what you wanted to pursue?
Music has always been something as necessary as breathing for me. Growing up in Florida, I didn't know anyone who worked in the music business, so naturally, I had no idea doing it professionally would ever be a possibility for me. After the first trip I took to Nashville, I witnessed this world of "people like me" for the first time and I knew I would give anything to be a part of it. 

Who was the first artist/s you looked up to/wanted to grow up to be?
My dad was dropping me off at a dance when I was 11 or 12 years old and while we were in the carpool line, he plugged in his phone and started playing "Gold Dust Woman" by Fleetwood Mac. In that moment I could've sworn the world stopped. I remember wanting to forget the dance altogether and listen to the dark, angelic voice of Stevie Nicks for the rest of the night. I still regularly have those nights where I'll sit by my record player in complete awe of her talent. 

What are your personal ambitions/goals for your music? Any specific milestones that would mark success to you?
My grandma always cuts out articles in the New York Times or USA Today that make her think of me. I'm such a dork, but I keep them all in a scrapbook and I'm dreaming of the day that she'll mail me an envelope containing an article that I'm included in. That would definitely be a huge milestone.

Mary Sarah

At just 18 years old, Mary Sarah is making a big entrance into the country music scene by working with some of its legends. Bridges, her second album, releasing July 8, is made up of duets with Dolly Parton, Merle Haggard, Tanya Tucker, and more. Thanks to a tweet from the Oak Ridge Boys aka "my uncles in the music business," she joined the group onstage at just 15 years old, laying the groundwork for future collaboration with iconic artists. In the course of only a few months, Mary Sarah made her Ryman debut, will release a new album and play the Bluebird Cafe. Next on the agenda? The young singer-songwriter will return to recording original music. More at marysarah.com

When did you first know music was what you wanted to pursue?
I actually went on tour when I was younger… with Kidz Bop. It was the night Patsy Cline signed the wall of the theater. At 12, I was the only one who knew who Patsy Cline was, and I was freaking out. That night, I went onstage and did my solo. When I started singing, everyone started singing along, and it was like a choir of angels. It was an overwhelming feeling. I was like, ‘I don’t know what this is, but I want to do this for the rest of my life.’

What are your personal ambitions/goals for your music? Any specific milestones that would mark success for you?
I want to win a CMA award, and I really want to win a Grammy sometime in my life. I tell people that with this project (Bridges), I started off with the legends, and I hope to be a legend one day. That’s a big milestone to try to get to, but mostly, I want to find myself through my music and make sure I’m showing the world who I am.

What was it like recording with these artists whom you’ve looked up to for so long?
With the whole project, I wasn’t expecting any of them to say yes. I got to record with Dolly Parton, and she’s exactly how you’d expect her to be: so down-to-earth and funny. She’s just a sweetheart.

Listen Live: Playing at the Bluebird Cafe during CMA Week! Tuesday, June 3 at 6 p.m.

Julia Sheer

A resident for a little over a year, Colorado native Julia Sheer may be a new name to Nashville, but she brings nearly half a million followers with her. Now 22, Julia posted her first YouTube video at 16 years old and developed a break out career doing features with other artists such as Tyler Ward and Alex Goot. Sheer was fortunate enough to be chosen for a Country Now showcase where students of the Blackbird Recording Studio Academy record and produce one of her songs. In addition to the Blackbird Sings series, she is finishing the pieces of her debut country album this fall all the while releasing covers on YouTube and hitting the road for fairs and festivals this summer. More at juliasheer.com and YouTube.com/JuliaSheer

Who was the first artist(s) you looked up to or wanted to grow up to be like?
I loved N'Sync when I was little. I wish I could say it was Shania Twain or Dolly Parton, but I sincerely loved N'Sync and I also remember wanting to be a Spice Girl when I grew up! Until about four years ago, a career in music seemed so far fetched to me. When I uploaded my first video to YouTube I never thought music was something I could actually make into a career.

How did posting videos on the internet turn into something more?
I was working with Tyler Ward before I posted my first videos and he had already figured out the whole YouTube thing. My video took off right after I put it up because he directed his fans toward my channel. When it started getting views immediately, I thought, "The heck? Who are these people?" The YouTube community is really great at cross-pollinating each others channels and I try to collaborate with people who are doing something I love and in a way I think is right.

Artist(s) you like to cover the most?
I love Keith Urban.

What are your personal ambitions/goals for your music? Any specific milestones that would mark success to you?
It would be a huge milestone if I ever got the chance to perform at the Opry, but everyone says that, right? That'd be amazing. I really, really want to tour overseas in Europe. I have a fan base in places like Germany and Singapore that is larger than the one in the US, so I want to make it out there.















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