Sam Hunt and Other Future Stars Light Up New Faces Show

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By: Bob Paxman

Country radio broadcasters and members of the national media got an up-close glimpse at the genre’s future at the annual New Faces of Country Music show, Friday night (Feb. 27). The show, from the Renaissance Hotel in Nashville, served as the wrap-up event to the Country Radio Seminar.

In order, the acts performing on the prestigious show were Sam Hunt, Frankie Ballard, Maddie & Tae, Eric Paslay and Cole Swindell. All have enjoyed hits on the charts during the past year, and they made sure to reprise those for the attendees, which included some of the most powerful executives in radio.

Memorable highlights included leadoff act Sam going out into the audience for his song “House Party,” creating a party atmosphere indeed. Before playing his current single, “Young & Crazy,” Frankie explained that he hadn’t been able to play guitar in recent shows due to a separated shoulder. But he made sure to be strong enough to wail on the instrument for this important show. Frankie also performed his previous hits “Helluva Life” and “Sunshine & Whiskey.“

Maddie & Tae proved worthy of continued attention on the heels of their incredible debut single, “Girl in a Country Song.” Their harmonies on current single “Fly” were simply gorgeous. Eric had the crowd rocking with “Song About a Girl,” “Friday Night” and others.

Each act was introduced with a humorous video clip. By far, Cole Swindell’s was the most entertaining, featuring cameo appearances by Martina McBride, Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean and the duo Florida Georgia Line. In a scene that was meant to represent a flashback, Martina, who once sold merchandise for Garth Brooks, explained the finer points of folding a T-shirt to Cole, who formerly sold merchandise for Luke at his concerts. Martina chastised Cole for his ineptness at T-shirt folding.

Cole served notice that he could handle a crowd, though, as he whipped through his radio smashes “Chillin’ It,” “Hope You Get Lonely Tonight” and “Ain’t Worth the Whiskey.” With that, another Country Radio Seminar officially came to an end.