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Start Following Lesser Known Artists – You’ll Be Amazed by the Talent You Can “Discover”

As with many other things throughout the course of the pandemic, I came to appreciate just how much I loved live music when I could no longer see concerts. While some people missed Broadway or movie theaters, I longed to be in a crowded concert hall listening to one of my favorite artists perform. When I went home over fall break, I got the pleasure of being able to see one of my new favorite artists, up and coming country singer-songwriter Morgan Wade, live at Webster Hall in New York City. She was the opening act in a small venue that certainly wasn’t crowded with audience members when she took the stage. Even so, it was one of the most amazing and powerful concerts I had ever been to.

A bit of a concert aficionado, I’ve been lucky enough to see artists like Adele, Carrie Underwood, Alicia Keys, and Taylor Swift live in concert. While those concerts and gifted performers were amazing, I’ve come to realize that the most rewarding way to experience live music, for me personally, is on a small stage. There is a unique intimacy that comes with being a fan of a new artist, and being able to belt their lyrics as though they are just for you. Live music wasn’t intended for stadiums, but for dimly lit rooms filled with the songs of people just trying to make their mark. 

I discovered Morgan Wade back in March when her songs were just beginning to hit the air. I diligently follow the SiriusXM “Highway Finds” on their country radio station and when they played her single “Wilder Days”, I was hooked. When I heard the song that day, I did (proudly) call that it would be a huge hit. It has gone on to make its mark as a powerful artist’s debut. I proceeded to listen to all of “Reckless” and became obsessed with the quality of her storytelling, unique voice, and sincerity of her emotions and vulnerability. After the concert, by sheer serendipity, I ran into Morgan standing outside. She was extremely kind and humble, and after I was able to overcome my fan-girl induced stutter, I told her that I knew this was the smallest stage I’d ever see her play again. That experience, from the tears shed during her heart-breaking songs to my conversation with her, will forever be priceless and wouldn’t have been possible with the artists I mentioned earlier. 

While my experience may seem a little anecdotal and country-centric, a lot of my friends who’ve followed artists in different genres to local venues have shared the same sentiments. Finding artists is also not nearly as difficult as it might seem. Just as “The Highway” on Sirius XM goes out of their way to discover new artists like Morgan Wade, Spotify also offers a variety of playlists in every genre, allowing you to sift through the latest songs from new singers. For fellow country fans, “New Boots” offers a mix of new songs from lesser and well-known artists, as does “Wild Country.”Next from Nashville,” and “Fresh Country”. You can find similar playlists in other genres as well. 

Looking for new artists is also a great way to help you discover and support people who often have a more difficult time in the industry. Country music, for example, is extremely male-dominated. A recent study from Billboard showed that male-female groups and women combined only make up 13-15% of daily plays on country radio. Similar stats are evident in other gender imbalanced genres, like rap. By doing your own research to find younger, less well-known artists you can also help support female musicians whose music often goes underrepresented and gets lost in the shuffle. 

Over the last year or so alone, I’ve been able to encounter some extremely talented female country artists like Morgan Wade, including Robyn Ottolini, Priscilla Block, Maggie Baugh, and so many more. Hopefully, I will get the opportunity to see many more of them in concert, but in the meantime, I’m glad I can support their music. 

None of this is to say you should abandon your favorite artists with powerhouse vocals and killer fanbases. A world without Taylor Swift’s Red rerelease or Carrie Underwood’s latest hit “If I Didn’t Love You” isn’t one I want to live in. However, I’m encouraging you to branch out and find singers you may not have stumbled upon unless you looked for them. Go to a small venue. Tune into songs that might not be playing on the radio. I think you’ll be surprised by just how much you love what you find!

Lexi Boccuzzi is a Penn sophomore in the College majoring in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics from Stamford, CT. She is an avid country-music listener, reader, and fan of all things Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Gilmore Girls. She loves to chat about politics and is also studying classics and legal studies.
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