Carolyn Kruse

Carolyn Kruse

Carolyn Kruse

It’s almost time for country music’s biggest night, the CMA Awards! The New Artist of the Year category of the Country Music Association Awards is one of my favorites. It shines a spotlight on the hottest new talent in the country. Winning the prestigious award is a great honor for a newbie, and it can really help ignite a fire to their career. Below you’ll  find the CMA’s New Artist of the Year Nominees, why they’re nominated and who should win.

This category includes some names that have been around for a few years, like Parker McCollum. But, it also includes some artists many of us never heard of until last year, like Megan Moroney. There are industry favorites, fan favorites and my favorites, all right here.

Who Decides The CMA Awards

So, take a look, and decide for yourself who you think should win this award.  According to their website, the “CMA Awards nominees and winners are determined by more than 6,000 industry professional members of the Country Music Association.” Established in 1958, the Country Music Association became the first trade organization formed to promote an individual genre of music. It’s the best country awards show out there, in my opinion.

Here are your 2023 CMA New Artist of the Year Nominees, in alphabetical order.



  • Zach Bryan

    I’m thrilled the Country Music Association did some voting outside the box. Although, Zach isn’t a big presence on country music radio, he absolutely deserves the nomination for new artist. No single artist made more of an impact in the touring world and downloads. His music is beautifully stripped down. Zach leaves the story to make the splash, not the production. It is country, in every sense of the term. His songwriting, his passionate vocals, and his “homespun” production brings a genre back to what it was meant to be. I don’t believe he will win this award, but I do believe we need more Zach Bryan in country music.

  • 2. Parker McCollum

    Considering Parker has been churning out hits since 2020, “New Artist” is kind of stretching it. The Texas artist already has 3 #1 hits, and another inside the top 20 right now. His distinctive voice and drive to remain true to his artistry are impressive. Perhaps Parker would have been better served in this category one or two years ago. I appreciate his music and style, but I feel like his odds of winning this one are low.

  • Megan Moroney

    There truly must be “something in the orange.” Out of nowhere, last year came a fiery new female voice with his debut single, “Tennessee Orange.” The now 26 year old burst onto the scene and out of our radios declaring her love for her hometown and her team, but conflicted because of her devotion to her Tennessee guy. It’s brilliantly constructed and delivered in Megan’s signature raspy, southern vocals. Moroney has a good shot at this award. The CMA’s need a show of support for female artists, and she is certainly deserving. Her toughest competition will be the next artist on this list.

  • Jelly Roll

    Jelly Roll is the man! Everyone wants to collaborate with him. He is getting airplay on country, pop and rock stations. Jelly is absolutely everywhere. And, he’s 100% deserving of a big win or 2 at the CMA Awards this year. No one has done more for country music’s presence, besides Lainey Wilson, than Jelly Roll. He’s emotionally connected to his songs and his audience, and that will score him massive votes. That connection and passion will earn Jelly the New Artist of the Year award. I’d put my own money on it.

  • Hailey Whitters

    I love that Hailey Whitters embraces the traditional. We haven’t had a lot of female artists in recent years that lean in that direction. Most of the time it’s the pop tendencies that reign supreme. But Hailey is the consummate story teller. She keeps his music simple and relatable. Hailey’s career in Nashville started as a songwriter. She has written songs for Little Big Town, Alan Jackson and she’s also collaborated on projects with Stoughton, Massachusetts’ Lori McKenna.  I’m thrilled she is a nominee in this category, but my head tells me it’s Jelly Roll’s for the taking.

Sign me up for the Country 102.5 email newsletter!

Become a VIP member today and get access to exclusive contests, country music news, and be the first to know when your favorite artists release new music and are coming to town!

By clicking "Subscribe" I agree to the website's terms of Service and Privacy Policy. I understand I can unsubscribe at any time.