Being on the forefront of discovering the next big artist can be a really fun exercise. Because there are thousands of new albums released every week, it can be exhausting trying to keep up, but to be one of the first to know about the next big thing is awesome. You can tell all your friends, and then share a bond of loving that artist for years to come which brings a camaraderie that’s tough to find elsewhere. Today’s featured artist is a real up and comer, and special shoutout to Sydney for pointing him out.

Ernest Keith Smith was born and raised in the country music capital of the world, Nashville, Tennessee. Oddly enough, Ernest was raised on hip-hop and became a fan at a very early age. He grew up making beats and playing the banjo—certainly a unique combination. Ernest has cited the original Space Jam soundtrack and a homemade CD of Eminem songs given to him by a friend as his main influences. Sadly, at age 19, he suffered a heart attack brought on by a viral infection, and subsequently developed a drug addiction while playing baseball at a junior college. Upon recovery, he moved back to Nashville and began writing and recording songs with a friend, who happened to own a studio. His collaborative efforts led to him co-writing a song for popular band Florida Georgia Line in 2016. The following year, he started going by simply Ernest and making material for himself. The first couple singles were a country/rap hybrid, spawning a couple singles that hit local radio.

Despite his own growing success, Ernest didn’t stop writing for others—he also penned tunes for Chris Lane and Jake Owen. It was that work that got him signed to Big Loud Records in 2019, to which both of those artists are signed. To generate some buzz, Ernest began touring with Lane, leading to him writing more songs for his discography and two other artists as well. Ernest put out his first album in October of 2019, but not many took notice. It wasn’t until just this year when he started to make some real noise.

When the single “Flower Shops” was released featuring Morgan Wallen, Ernest’s stock began to rise. The album of the same name came out just two weeks ago (you can stream it on Amazon Music or preorder a copy on his website) and has already hit No.17 on the country music charts. It’s interesting listening to fresh albums because your opinion can’t be tainted by reading reviews—none of them really exist yet. Hearing his backstory today is certainly compelling enough to give him a shot, and knowing his star is just starting to shine adds a level of excitement as well.

Getting into the album itself, Ernest certainly seems to have a style. His vocal is pretty standard country music from Nashville. Bit of a drawl, mostly a slowed down, melancholy take on the standards. I was a little surprised to not hear any of that major hip-hop influence on this album, but maybe I need to give the rest of his singles a listen as well. The lead single certainly has a lot going for it—the collaboration is refreshing and definitely hits a high note for the album overall. There are a couple more upbeat tracks which are fun too, including one that has sort of an old-school Eagles feel to it (a little ‘Boys of Summer’ influence perhaps). But no matter what, this album is worth checking out. If you’re a country music nut, you’ll probably tell me that I’m late on Ernest and you’ve known about him for a while—but if you’re not a buff, this has something that you’ll still likely enjoy.

Give Ernest a shot today, he might be the next artist you’ll share with your friends. Buddy, I’ll take your roses if you cut off the thorns. Happy Tuesday!

Top 3 Tracks:

  1. Flower Shops
  2. Did It With You
  3. Sucker For Small Towns

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