iHeartCountry festival comes to Austin, features big names, local artists

Austin will be hosting the iHeart Country Festival on Apr. 30 – and this year’s lineup is amazing.

Along with established Grammy Award-winning country music stars Miranda Lambert, Keith Urban and Zac Brown Band, several rising stars are making their way to the festival.

College quarterback turned country singer Sam Hunt and dorky dancing Southern boy Thomas Rhett are two attending artists that have quickly evolved since their young debut albums.

American Music Awards’ reigning New Artist of the Year Sam Hunt has a softer voice than you would expect from a former football player. One critique he has received a few times is that his live vocals are not the easiest to hear.

Still, Elias Leight of Billboard Hot 100 said it best that Hunt has a musical “mix of speaking and rapid-fire singing that sets him apart from other country singers,” which draws in fans of country, R&B and pop music.

Hit songs from Hunt’s “Montevallo” album are “Leave the Night On,” “House Party,” “Make You Miss Me,” “Break Up in a Small Town” and “Take Your Time,” which peaked at No. 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

There’s no question he can sing, but will fans be able to hear him?

As for Rhett, he sings several of the most popular country songs on the radio today: “Die a Happy Man” and “Crash and Burn.”

His newest single is “T-shirt.” Other popular songs from his 2013 debut album “It Goes Like This” are the album title single, as well as “Make Me Wanna” and “Get Me Some of That.”

The son of another country singer Rhett Atkins, he grew up with music and often played the drums for his father’s performances.

Despite his mother wanting him to finish school, he dropped out of college in Nashville and worked at his music career. Eventually, he signed with a music label as a songwriter and had to work his way up to being a vocal musician.

In 2013, 2014 and 2015, he was named “Artist of the Year” for several country music award presentations, and his single “It Goes Like This” was appropriately awarded the “Country Song of the Year” title by iHeart Radio Music Awards.

He’s a natural born performer with quirky dance moves, and he has a strong Southern feel that is fitting for the iHeart Country lineup.

The music festival will take place at the Frank Erwin Center. Tickets are still available. Other big names in attendance are Chris Young, Florida Georgia Line and Lee Brice, Brett Eldredge and Cole Swindell.