Knowing an artist 'before they were cool' is one of the biggest brags in our generation, and new talent is constantly getting their feet in the door of the music industry. However, it's hard to know where to look for these small musicians. The charts are topped by only household names instead of rising stars. In this article, we've compiled a list of musicians to look out for as they grow in popularity. Ranging in age, genre, and fame, this list is sure to have something for everyone.
To start off the list: singer-songwriter Kylee Hollis, or Ky. At 9 years old, she wrote her first song and practically hasn't put the pen down since. Taking inspiration from coffee shop conversations and the world around her, Ky wrote constantly for years. Finally, her lyrics became accompanied by music when she learned the ukulele in 2019. Just one year later, she started posting covers on her Instagram, and eventually, original songs on her TikTok account. She quickly gained attention as TikTok users felt connected to her words. Now, Ky is a communications major at Ohio State University and released her first song, Helium (demo), on February 24. Her style has heartrenching lyrics paired with a soft guitar, somewhat similar to that of Lizzie McAlphine or Gracie Abrams. In the future, she aims to release albums that show the world who she is. She aspires to make a song that means something to others, just as Vienna by Billy Joel means to her. An artist so fond of the world around her, we expect the world to adore Kylee Hollis very soon.
Born and raised in Kilkenny, Ireland, Annika took her name from her roots. She grew up surrounded by music and picked up classical piano at just six years old. Seven years later, Annika began writing her own pieces and then taught herself the guitar. She persevered through the basics and then finally developed a passion for the instrument, making it the basis for her original songs. In 2021, she took massive steps for herself as a musician. Annika started posting her songs on TikTok, gaining a group of dedicated listeners. After only a few months, she signed with her record label, Tinpot Records. Now, she is recording music and is set to debut on Spotify in the coming year. Annika writes a large variety of music, usually fairly simple in production. Her guitar playing is masterful, and when paired with her voice, almost hypnotising. She plans to graduate from university with a music degree, perform live, and keep writing. A lyricist, creator, and dreamer, Annika Kilkenny will only continue to grow in the coming years.
17-year-old musician, Finlay James, is an up-and-coming musician to look out for. Based in Gloucestershire in the United Kingdom, Finlay has been surrounded by music for his whole life; music was always around him and he let himself grow into it. In 2021, he released his debut EP entitled Four in Seven. Since then, he has brought out his first full-length album, Good Things That Fly Around Your Head, and many singles. Finlay's music is heavily inspired by folk music, specifically that of Bob Dylan and Vashti Bunyan. He plans to keep his music fresh, not wanting to stick to one sound, and wants to continue to release new music in the coming years. Currently, his sound is quite acoustic, often showcasing his voice and his guitar. At only 17 years old, Finlay is making great steps for himself and we're excited to see where he goes in the industry.
Shauna Dean Cokeland
A sensation in the making; Shauna Dean Cokeland, or SDC, is destined to be a household name. SDC takes inspiration from various sources, from Lana Del Ray to Appalachian country music. Her sound jumps across genres, from rap, to pop, to country, to emo; she is unlike anything else we've heard so far. Recently, SDC has been making major steps in her career. First, her TikToks gained attention, and she grew a dedicated fanbase. Her debut single, Moving in Place, was released in October of 2022 and has now had over one million plays on Spotify. She performed her first live show earlier this year with plans to perform many more. In the next few years, we expect to see albums, music videos, and merchandise. A completely unique artist with an eye for fame, Shauna Dean Cokeland will be on everybody's playlists very soon.
The youngest musician on this list: Anna Eve. At only 15 years old, Anna has already released four singles on Spotify, all in 2022. Based in Nottingham, England, she grew up inspired by her dad, a professional musician. She began writing songs in her bedroom, reflecting on personal experiences. Her raw, intimate music has the potential to speak to her generation. In the future, Anna has plans to go to a music college, specializing in Music Performance and Songwriting. She aims to do many more live performances for her growing fanbase. A teenager doing what she loves most, Anna Eve will be someone to look out for as she progresses through the music industry.
Twenty-one years old, with eight released singles and much more in the making, Keni is the singer-songwriter to watch. Her songs are often influenced by the American Dream, specifically the concept of religion. Many of her demos on TikTok songs reflect this, as well as her released single, Come Back. Inspired by songbirds and sweet sounds, Keni makes lyrical masterpieces paired with an angelic voice. She plans to make the best music possible for her audience, especially for young girls. She wants to make music that makes others feel how she does; seen. As a new indie-folk singer on the rise, Keni will be on everyone's playlists in the next few years.
Everybody loves music, but it can be hard to know what to listen to. Listening to smaller artists can help build a rising artist, and some of these picks have incredible potential to be stars. Ranging from teenagers to young adults, this list had a diamond in the rough for everybody. Hopefully, one of our spotlighted artists speaks to you the way we know that they can.