Every year there’s something new to discover—and 2022 was no different in music.
Among the dozens of new artists that were some of our Daily Discovery picks and some artists circulating the festivals, to those who were already a few albums (or singles) in, and others that made their big debut in 2022, there were a few selects that left an imprint.
Though there were many more artists that were not featured crossing country, pop, hip-hop, folk, rock, and beyond, we narrowed it down to 16 artists that left an imprint on us, and who we believe you’ll be hearing more of in the coming year.
In no particular order, here are the American Songwriter artists to watch in 2023.
1. Danielle Ponder
A breakout artist of 2022, who will likely only enjoy more shine in the next calendar years, Danielle Ponder has a voice that boasts size, richness, and hypnotics. Her song “Some Of Us Are Brave” on her 2022 LP of the same name could be featured in the climactic moment of your favorite drama. Her song “Only The Lonely” may bring you to tears or your knees. Ponder, who worked for eight years as an attorney in Upstate New York, now has billboards up in her honor in cities like Tokyo and New York City. She recently toured as an opening artist for Marcus Mumford, and we can only imagine she is hatching plans at this very moment for even bigger and better things. Her songs are the hearth around which we should all gather to warm our bodies in the otherwise cold world. —Jake Uitti
If you stretched and pulled every rubber band on Earth, the potential stored in each of the millions (billions?) of them wouldn’t match that inside the pinky belonging to Seattle-based songwriter and performer TeZATalks. The artist, who has more energy than the International Space Station, recently joined the Danish artist MØ as an opening act on tour. Since then, she’s been an American Songwriter Daily Discovery artist and released a mega-watt music video. TeZA can do it all: rap, sing, dance, and make you lock into her like a fighter jet radar system. The Pacific Northwest has seen several local bands pop in recent years, from The Black Tones to Shaina Shepherd, Travis Thompson, and Chong the Nomad, but TeZATalks is next for the world to know. —Jake Uitti
3. Son Little
In a way, Son Little (aka Aaron Livingston) is established. In another, he’s nowhere near as well-known as he should be. The artist, who released his newest LP, Like Neptune, in September, is a standout songwriter—nuanced, and gentle but with power and precision. With his new album, he went into deep, dark territory. The stuff that might turn most away, including memories of physical abuse endured as a child. To study difficult these themes, he utilized a more electronic manner of producing songs. But in the past, Son Little has proven versatility, appearing on albums with The Roots, legendary hip-hop producer RJD2 and writing songs with more traditional instrumentation. He’s a blues man in the modern world. And one of the best. —Jake Uitti
4. Indigo De Souza
Spruce Pine, North Carolina native Indigo De Souza has no qualms about letting her listeners wade into the depths of her emotions. Her latest offering, Any Shape You Take, is a 10-track mediation on the heavier parts of life: death, embracing your differences, navigating relationships, and change. She has long been praised for her ability to tackle such topics while bearing their weight with an anthemic sound that makes them feel more playful than pensive. When listening to songs like “Hold U” or “Die/Cry” there is an internal battle between focusing on the big ideas at hand or sinking into the blissful groove she puts behind them. Regardless of which side wins, you’re in for a treat with De Souza. —Alex Hopper
5. Benson Boone
The 20-year-old Benson Boone has been off to the races since he started sharing original work on TikTok. An appearance on American Idol and several million views later, Boone has distinguished himself as a balladeer akin to the likes of Lewis Capaldi. His 2022 EP, Walk Me Home…, is a testament to both his ability to pen a stunner of a pop song and his rich, acrobatic vocals. Boone has yet to release a full-length album and, if what we’ve heard so far is any indicator, that pending project will only ignite his star further. —Alex Hopper
HAWA’s first LP, Hadja Bangoura, held a dreamy mixture of R&B and rap with touches of funk and soul that amounted to a soul-stirring debut release for the 22-year-old artist. “Breathy, hazy arrangements echo throughout each track, creating lush, dreamy soundscapes of intricate melodies, haunting vocals, and hard-hitting beats,” wrote American Songwriter of the debut. “HAWA’s songs become places where laidback sounds ricochet off complex lyrics, creating spaces that evoke an uneasiness, and yet feel like home.” —Alli Patton
7. The Heavy Heavy
Armed with throwback sounds – part haunting folk, part rollicking surf-rock – The Heavy Heavy are equipped to enter the new year with full-throated harmonies and rock steady skills. The ensemble recently made their late-night television debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and rocked out with few frills. —Alli Patton
California-born, Texas-raised singer/songwriter Madeline Edwards has made a name for herself in Nashville as an engaging performer and captivating storyteller. Edwards served as a special guest throughout Chris Stapleton’s 2022 All-American Road Show Tour, and it’s easy to see why she was handpicked for the summer trek. Edwards’ music blends country, pop, jazz, and soul alongside powerhouse vocals, memorable beats, and clever songwriting. Her major label debut, Crashlanded, further exemplifies why Edwards is a star on the rise. Songs like the anthemic “Mama, Dolly, Jesus” and arena-ready hit “Spurs” immediately grab the listener while the introspective “How Strong I Am” is a welcomed reminder to look within oneself in times of struggle. With a debut this strong, there is no doubt that 2023 will bring Edwards to new heights. —Annie Reuter
9. Lauren Weintraub
Newcomer Lauren Weintraub introduced herself in 2022 with the vulnerable debut EP This Is Your Brain On Love. The confessional six tracks pair descriptive lyrics and unique storylines with Weintraub’s inviting vocals and ear-grabbing beats. While the heart-wrenching breakup ballad “Boston” recalls early Taylor Swift with its raw emotion and vivid imagery, the reflective “Missing You” evokes Olivia Rodrigo’s pop sensibilities and unfiltered lyrics.
All the while, Weintraub showcases her vocal power on songs like the anthemic “Over Her Over Here” and EP closer “Not Like I’m In Love With You.” This Is Your Brain On Love is just a taste of what’s to come from the 24-year-old. Weintraub signed a major label deal with Virgin Records and was named the flagship songwriter signed to Brandy Clark’s publishing company All BC Music, further proving that this is just the beginning of what’s sure to be a successful career for the budding singer/songwriter. —Annie Reuter
10. Carli Brill
Carli Brill is an indie singer-songwriter whose voice and lyrics are packed with quiet confidence. Originally from California, Brill now calls Nashville home with her timeless, yet fresh sound making her a standout among Music City’s vast well of talent. Her voice provides comfort with a growing catalog built on a foundation of intriguing melodies and lyrics that pour from Brill’s heart and soul. All it takes is one note to prompt your curiosity about what she has to say, from “Hey Little Girl,” an uplifting message to our inner child, to the introspective unreleased song, “Fables.” She’s a gem of a songwriter and leaves you awestruck in the gentlest of ways, which is part of what makes her memorable. She is as raw and genuine as they come and whatever she puts her voice to is worth listening to. —Cillea Houghton
SistaStrings, the sister duo of Monique and Chauntee Ross, are simply electric. As members of Alison Russell’s touring band, they can also be seen onstage with Brandi Carlile’s set on Saturday Night Live in December 2022. Violinist Chauntee and cellist Monique live and breathe every song they play, wearing the emotion of the lyrics on their face, whether it’s a cover of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” that’s so moving it warrants a standing ovation in the middle of the performance or original compositions like “Her Name Was” that encourage us to keep holding on. SistaStrings are captivating in every way and are bound to command your attention in 2023. —Cillea Houghton
Within their more modernized repertoire, Los Angeles alternative, experimental trio Automatic has captured the essence of some electronic, post-punk new waves of the past. Made up of vocalist Izzy Glaudini, drummer Lola Dompé, and bassist Halle Saxon, in between touring with post-punk legends Bauhaus and releasing their third album, Excess, in 2022, their trajectory has been fully automated. Hissing around a buzz of synth and drums, Excess threads the current state of affairs and questions how far we’ve come and retracted from progression from the marching reminder of the many faces one must wear “On the Edge” and gazing “Skyscraper” through the burdens of the future generation on the darker pop and punk pulsing “Teen Beat” or gouging the superfluous state of culture and consumerism—and where there’s an escape, there’s a way—on rousing “New Beginning.”
“We stuck to our original formula, which is very minimal, but added a bit more experimentation in the studio,” said Glaudini in a recent interview with American Songwriter. “Because the songs were written before they were ever played live, we were less concerned with sticking to a live sound.” She added, “Space has always been a kind of fourth instrument in our sound, especially because we are such minimalists.” —Tina Benitez-Eves
Ultimately, “scared to go to sleep” opened the can of worms, and the remaining songs of the album, are immersed in more dream-like imagery for singer and songwriter carobae. Her debut scared to go to sleep came at a time when carobae wasn’t sure she would ever make music again, following her dual EPs, The Longest Year: Part One, released in 2020, and Part Two in 2021. Writing a majority of the tracks on her own with some co-written with Brandon Shoop, Megan Redmond, Raziel, Sean Kennedy, and Lauren Mandel, the 24-year-old artist has also continued working with songwriters in Nashville over the past several years and even co-wrote Nicolle Galyon’s 2018 single “self care” with Sasha Alex Sloan. Also submerged in angst, the songs that followed fit the notion of scared to go to sleep, and facing some of her most revelatory thoughts.
Most of the songs actually started from lyrics carobae originally wrote as poems with the melody coming later. “I used to consider myself more of a melody writer, but this album really made me into a lyric writer,” carobae recently told American Songwriter. “I wanted listeners to feel like they related to the songs without me completely stating ‘I am sad. I feel alone.’” —Tina Benitez-Eves
In 2012, Alicia Blue quit her job and started cleaning houses, and found Malcolm Clark Hayes, Jr. one rainy Christmas Eve as she searched for her next client’s apartment in Thai Town in Los Angeles. “The moment I walked in,” says Blue, “I felt like I came home.” A poet with no aspirations to be a musician, Blue vividly remembers first meeting the late soul artist, who had toured with Little Richard and was a big part of England’s Northern soul scene in the late 1960s. Hearing funk music blasting from his sixth-floor apartment, at first Blue considered turning around and leaving. Eventually, Hayes opened Blue’s world to everything about music—blues, soul, jazz—forever transforming her life. “I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t meet him,” shares Blue, “because I wouldn’t be in music.”
For Blue, who released her debut Bravebird in 2020 and recently covered Jane’s Addiction’s 1987 classic “Janes Says” —and even got big praise from the band’s frontman Perry Farrell for her rendition — her work has just begun. Kicking off from her very first singles, the heart-shattering country crooners “Magma” and “Incognito” through deeper self-revelations and evaluations on her 2021 EP, Inner Child Work, Pt. 1, and recent singles “Young,” “Best Hands” and “I Want It Faster,” this is Alicia Blue’s moment in time. —Tina Benitez-Eves
15. Chapel Hart
Country music trio Chapel Hart burst onto the music scene in 2022 with an appearance on the talent competition show America’s Got Talent. While the dynamic trio finished in fifth place, they are just getting started. Praise from none other than Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn catapulted the female trio to the head of the class. Comprised of Sisters Danica and Devynn Hart and first cousin Trea Swindle, the trio, from Poplarville, Mississippi, made their Grand Ole Opry debut, receiving four standing ovations, and kicked off 2023 with their brand new single “Glory Days.” Stay tuned for much more to come from this family trinity. —Lisa Konicki
16. Jackson Dean
With his sophomore single “Fearless (The Echo)” becoming the No.1 most-added song on country radio earlier this month, Jackson Dean is kicking off 2023 with a bang. Bringing a rugged outlaw country style to the forefront of country music, the Maryland native has many industry insiders take notice. “Don’t Come Lookin’” featured on his debut album, Greenbroke, became the fastest debut to reach No. 1 in 2022. In 2023, Dean is set to hit the road as part of Blake Shelton’s 2023 Back to the Honky Tonk Tour. Country music is in good hands with the 22-year-old multi-instrumentalist at the wheel. —Lisa Konicki
Main Photo: Chapel Hart Photoby Alexis Carter; Alicia Blue Photo by Tammie Valer