Do you ever get that feeling that you are so confident in your music knowledge? It’s when you can sing every word to every song that comes on the radio. You find yourself checking off names on your concert bucket list. Then you realize there is MORE. You just have to look outside the US to find it.
There is a new wave of artists from the UK and Ireland who are finding success within the realms of country music. Within the last 10-15 years country artists who are household names in the States have expanded their tours to include stops around Europe and finding an entirely new set of fans. Acts like Keith Urban, Shania Twain, Luke Bryan, and Sam Hunt are more open to the idea of touring outside the US, more so than the George Strait and Alan Jackson generation.
Do you remember the British Invasion? I didn’t – I was 30 years from being born. But it seems like the reverse effect, the “American Invasion” is picking up speed in Britain and Ireland especially. The more country artists take their talents to these places such as Stockholm, Dublin, and Manchester, the more they are crushing the stereotype that country music is only relatable to those that live in the South. Young Brits listen to artists such as Maren Morris and Thomas Rhett but what they hear doesn’t match their preconceived notions of the genre.
The bridge from Nashville to London has never been shorter. Country artist Kip Moore was a judge in a songwriting competition, sponsored by British Airways. The airline would fly directly from London to Nashville for five weeks, carrying young artists who dreamed of writing that one big hit and solidifying their place in the country music capital.
London also hosts C2C: Country 2 Country at the O2 Arena. Since the festival’s start in 2013, the festivities have expanded to include cities such as Dublin and Glasgow. Anyone who is anyone in country music has made the trip across the pond for the yearly festival; from Carrie Underwood, Tim McGraw, and Eric Church to Kacey Musgraves, Sam Hunt, Miranda Lambert and Florida Georgia Line. There aren’t any acts announced for next year, but I’m already looking at flights to London for next March.
It’s nearly impossible to go through and mention all the artists that originate from the UK or Ireland who have found a voice in the country genre, that’s why we compiled a Spotify playlist. (Honestly what did we do before Spotify?) To name a few that you DEFINITELY need to check out, keep reading.
The Shires: Chrissie and Ben make up the dynamic duo of The Shires. Although they have been in the music scene for years, their latest album “Accidentally on Purpose” has all the makings of a country album. It has the fun party songs, slow love songs, and a song that Ed Sheeran wrote for them called “Stay the Night.” When Ed is writing songs for you, you’ve pretty much made it, right?
Catherine McGrath is a 21-year-old artist from Ireland, who left home at 18 to try and make it in London. Due to release her first full album July 27, McGrath has spent time in Nashville writing her album and performing at summer festivals around the US. She also has a song with Hunter Hayes “Don’t Let Me Forget.” This girl is going to be a star.
Brown and Gray, made up of songwriter Sam Gray, from London, and Kaci Brown, from Texas, have a really new and fun sound that is a blend of souther country music with a London influence.. Check out their newest hit “Top Down.” These two have the recipe for success to appeal to a variety of fan bases, even those outside of country.
Other favorite artists that I have found from across the pond include Andy Brown, Danny McMahon, Raintown, The Wandering Hearts, and Holloway Road. Maybe you’re tired of what you hear on the radio or disappointed that Sam Hunt hasn’t released an album in 3 years. If you need some fresh country music to listen to, look up one of these artists and enjoy!
Check out the playlist below and happy listening!