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Jennifer Nettles headlines second day of country stars at Ryman

Image by Getty Images for NARAS

Jennifer Nettles headlines second day of country stars at Ryman

By Stephen L. Betts. CREATED Feb 20, 2014

For the second day in a row, Universal Music Group, which encompasses several record-label imprints, including MCA, Mercury and Capitol, hosted a lunchtime showcase of new music at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium for attendees of Country Radio Seminar. While most of the label group's big guns were the draw of Wednesday's show, Thursday offered a chance to hear longer sets from two new acts, Kelleigh Bannen and Brothers Osborne, and one, Jennifer Nettles, who just released a solo album after a decade as part of award-winning duo Sugarland.

Jennifer delivered several powerful, energetic numbers from "That Girl," the album that topped the country chart when it was released last month. Noting that the collection represented a number of varied influences, the singer wisely included "Me Without You," which will be her next single released to country radio. But the peppy, '70s pop radio vibe of "Jealousy," and the sassy "Know You Wanna Know," obviously pleased the crowd as well.

Just prior to Jennifer taking the stage, Maryland-born duo Brothers Osborne (with T.J. on lead vocals and John on blistering electric guitar) showcased a bluesy country-rock sound that's as influenced by arena rockers Tom Petty and Bob Seger as it is anything being heard on country radio these days. They introduced their latest single, the island-inspired "Rum," by noting that their previous single had only made it into the 40s on the country chart, and told the influential crowd that radio "damn well better play this one." Based on the enthusiastic reception to the song, you may be hearing a lot of it in the coming months. 

Opening the show was Kelleigh Bannen, whose pop-influenced second single, "Famous," is a twist on the classic revenge tune as she promises to make her ex noteworthy for his misdeeds. But as fun and light as that tune is, she also performed the affecting "Church Clothes," about a couple who put on a facade to spend time together at church but then go home where they are living much more separately.

All three acts demonstrated, albeit in very different ways, why country fans and country radio should give them a shot. It remains to be seen (and heard) what the future holds for them, but we'll be paying attention.

Have you heard the music of Jennifer Nettles, Brothers Osborne and Kelleigh Bannen? What do you think? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter.

Stephen L. Betts

Stephen L. Betts

Stephen L. Betts ("Steve") is a Nashville-based journalist who started his career as a tour guide, karaoke operator and library assistant at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.