FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR This award is based on an individual musical performance on a solo album or solo single release by a solo artist or named front woman.
With a strong, soulful, pop country sound, Erin Grand is a refreshing addition to the Midwest Country music scene. Erin's love for music and the opportunities for her to perform, started at a very young age. She grew up singing in her church choir and learned to play the guitar and piano along the way. At the young age of 12 when she was asked to be the lead singer of a youth cover band called, Ageless. The band performed for years at many regions festivals and private events. Erin and the lead guitar player (Madison Straw) went on to form a duo called, Erin & Madison. The two, traveled and performed together for 4 years and before she graduated from high school, Erin knew that music was what she wanted to pursue full time. Erin Grand has written numerous songs and recorded many of them with local Minneapolis producers, Jesse Ray Ernster and Eric Warner. Erin recently started a new project in Nashville with hit songwriters, Marty Dodson & Clay Mills of Songtown and Vibe City. She continues to travel back and forth between the two cities to write, record and perform with new music set to be released in 2019. "What's most important to me is writing and performing from a place that is authentic and hopefully relatable to others. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support and for for supporting local music!" - Erin Grand.
Over the last five years, singer-songwriter Sarah Morris has earned a reputation for engaging performances, with a voice both clear and lush. Sarah hails from Minneapolis, Minnesota, where from a young age, she immersed herself in her parent’s eclectic record collection before finally falling in love with the storytelling and songcraft in country music. Spending a few years in Music City instilled a traditional songwriting sensibility that earned her 2015 album Ordinary Things international airplay, and critical acclaim. With the release of her third album, Hearts In Need Of Repair, Sarah offers 11 new songs spanning the Americana sonosphere. Returning to RiverRock Studios in Minneapolis, Sarah co-produced the album with Eric Blomquist. Longtime bandmates Thomas Nordlund, Andrew Foreman, and Zachary Schmidt joined them in the studio, laying a foundation that blends folk-rock and country influences. Hearts In Need Of Repair showcases Sarah’s signature vocals and conversational lyricism, exploring vulnerability, heartbreak, and grown-up, imperfect love.
The Devon Worley Band was forged out of raw talent. Devon’s undeniable ability drew top-tier touring musicians to her side at a very early age. While every other teenage girl was hanging out at the mall snap chatting their boyfriends, Devon’s teenage years were spent paying dues, traveling with her band, and touring relentlessly across the heartland; playing just about every bar, fair and festival in the grain belt. Now in her early 20’s, Devon Worley and her band have taken the Midwest music scene by storm and are garnering critical acclaim and national attention. Their latest full length album “The Sunrise Resistance” has caught the attention of not only country music fans nationwide, but also Nashville insiders eager to see more of the band’s no-rules writing style. Riding their own raw edge of country and rock, this band is turning heads and making waves, while bringing a brand new attitude to country music. From their songwriting style to their studio recordings, the girl and her band are forging their own unique path. However, their true love is the stage. Their passion for the live show, the audience and their fans is evident; and their talent undeniable.
Growing up in rural south central Wisconsin, Kari Arnett was experimenting with writing, playing, and singing music from a young age, including teaching herself to play piano. It wasn't until her early 20s that Arnett taught herself guitar and began performing as a traveling musician. Soon her inspirations led her to draw rich sounds from older country/folk styles of music and brought her into the Americana scene. Surfacing lyrics from love and loss, Arnett's lush, imaginative, storyteller approach to narrative songwriting may appeal to fans of The Civil Wars, Gillian Welch or Neko Case. While more old-school folk/country lovers, who enjoy Patty Griffin, Lucinda Williams or Emmylou Harris, may appreciate Arnett's use of music as the universal outlet to convey emotion in the spaces between the silence and the sound.
Arnett released her first EP Midwestern Skyline in July of 2015 and has garnered praise from American Songwriter (Nashville,TN), as well as critical acclaim from local and national music critics.
Kari has performed at many prestigious stages such as: The Bluebird Cafe (Nashville, TN), The Dakota Jazz Club (Minneapolis, MN), Aster Cafe (Minneapolis, MN), Alpine Valley VIP Club (East Troy, WI), High Noon Saloon (Madison, WI) and many more. With her fans support and enthusiastic responses from the press, Arnett took her songs on the road to promote her EP. Her newest full length album was released September 20, 2018:
When The Dust Settles.
When The Dust Settles has been featured in Rolling Stone, No Depression, Wide Open Country, The Daily Country, The Bluegrass Situation, and more!
Kari Arnett has performed with many amazing artists such as: Tyler Gilbert (CA), Michael McDermott, The Wind and The Wave, Kaleo, Laney Jones and The Spirits, Frazey Ford (The Be Good Tanyas), Mary Bragg, Emily Keener (The Voice), Chastity Brown, Paul Thorn, Erin Rae.
Kari Arnett is currently splitting her time between Madison, WI and Nashville, TN.