Today the Academy of Country Music revealed the winners of the three categories for the New Artist of the Year as Lauren Alaina, Midland and Brett Young each took home the female, group and male artist categories, respectively. The category winners were each surprised by Reba McEntire upon learning of their win as she personally phoned each of them to reveal the news. With this news, each of the artists were added to the performance roster of the Sunday, April 15, 2018 award show.
Alaina, who is the most ‘veteran’ of the three winners in country music finally broke through the glass ceiling with country radio last year as her single “Road Less Traveled” hit #1 and was followed by the current follow-up “Doin’ Fine.” Alaina’s first three radio singles “Like My Mother Does,” “Georgia Peaches” and “Eighteen Inches” were all Top 40 hits in 2011-2012 after her run on American Idol was complete. While those were hits, she grew into her artistry and career with Road Less Traveled, her 2017 sophomore album, a record which was completely co-written by Alaina. In addition to these hits and successes, Alaina teamed up with childhood friend Kane Brown for “What Ifs,” her second #1 hit.
Midland is one of country music’s biggest and best surprises of 2017. The trio which formed in Texas scored a Top 5 Gold hit with their neo-classic country ballad “Drinkin’ Problem.” The single set up the trio’s debut for Big Machine Records called On The Rocks. That album also features the Top 15 hit ditty “Make A Little” and their third single, “Burn Out.” The band scored critical success immediately because of their mix of Eagles-like harmonies and George Strait inspired melodies.
After about 15 years of trying as an independent artist (including the release of four albums between 2011 and 2013), Brett Young finally broke through in 2016 when he released “Sleep Without You” with his new record label BMLG Records. By the time that single was released, Brett Young was in his mid 30s and took all of that experience from working and touring independently to become one of the most well-rounded new artists in recent country music history. Young’s debut album was released in early 2017 right about the same time that “In Case You Didn’t Know” hit the charts. That song made Brett Young a superstar and it was one of 2017’s best-selling, most-played hits. Young released a third single “Like I Loved You” and saw it be certified Gold and, like the first two singles, it hit #1. His fourth and likely final single from his self-titled major label debut, “Mercy” is currently climbing the radio charts at the time of this award show.