KixStart CMA launched the inaugural CMA KixStart Artist Scholarship in 2018 as a program designed to offer emerging artists one-of-a-kind mentorship from within the Country Music industry. The year-long program connects up to three artists with experts within the industry as well as provides educational and select financial support along with opportunities to participate in CMA-related events, helping artists build a solid foundation to reach the next level of their careers. The CMA KixStart Artist Scholarship is named after former Chairman of the CMA Board and long-serving board member, Kix Brooks of Brooks & Dunn. An artist advocate, Brooks drove the creation of the CMA Board of Directors’ Artist Relations Committee in 2006. “CMA and our entire community have always shown a great commitment to developing and nurturing new artists. When I look back to the beginning of my own music career, I know for certain a program like this would have helped accelerate my start and given me a wealth of knowledge and understanding of the business side of the industry.” KAREN FAIRCHILD CMA BOARD MEMBER AND LITTLE BIG TOWN MEMBER APPLICATION AND MORE DETAILS NOT A CMA MEMBER? APPLY NOW Congratulations 2018 KixStart Artist Scholarship Recipients Kassi Ashton LEARN MORE Kassi Ashton is one of Nashville’s most compelling rising stars. Signed to UMG Nashville in conjunction with Interscope Records, the California, Missouri singer/songwriter has been making a name for herself on the music scene thanks to her authentic songwriting and soulful, rich voice. The Tennessean recognizes “her distinct husky, powerful voice and self-assured take-me-or-leave-me attitude put her in her own lane in country music” while Huffington Post gives Ashton “mad props for her songwriting and stage presence” and CMT calls Ashton “fearless” and notes “her point of view is inspired and her storytelling knows no bounds.” Ashton released her auto-biographical song “California, Missouri,” where she paints an unconventional portrait of life growing up in her small town. Named “Who to Watch” by Huffington Post, The Tennessean and radio personality Bobby Bones’ Class of 2018, Ashton also caught the attention of Country superstar Keith Urban. Describing her as “such a unique, original creature,” Urban featured Ashton on his song “Drop Top” for his latest album Graffiti U. Ashton brings a certain swagger and take-no-prisoners attitude to her music, especially with her latest, “Taxidermy”. Read more at KassiAshton.com. Travis Denning LEARN MORE A native of Warner Robins, Georgia, Mercury Nashville’s Travis Denning vividly remembers the moment he realized he wanted to pursue music for a living. He was seven years old sitting in his Dad’s truck and heard AC/DC for the first time. From then on, he was hooked and devoured all types of music from Country, pop, rock and heavy metal. Travis started playing local bars at the age of 16 and built a solid following from his distinctive songs and raucous guitar licks. He moved to Nashville in 2014 and within a year signed a publishing deal with Jeremy Stover’s RED Creative Group. After securing outside cuts by Jason Aldean, Justin Moore, Michael Ray and Chase Rice he caught the attention of Universal Music Group where he eventually signed a record deal in 2017. Travis just released his debut single “David Ashley Parker From Powder Springs,” an upbeat coming-of-age song that paints a picture of a young man reminiscing on his carefree college memories. The singer/songwriter has previously opened shows for Cole Swindell, Alan Jackson, Chase Rice as well as Justin Moore and is set to hit the road with LANCO on the “Hallelujah Nights” tour this fall. When Travis is not touring, he is in the studio working on his debut album. Read more at TravisDenning.com. Jameson Rodgers LEARN MORE Raised in Batesville, Mississippi, singer-songwriter Jameson Rodgers brings together electrified rock & roll and Country songwriting on his new self-titled EP, released in January of 2018, with songs featured on Spotify’s New Boots and Wild Country playlists as well as Sirius XM’s On The Horizon. This year, Rodgers also received the AIMP Nashville Rising Artist-Writer of the Year nomination for the third annual AIMP (Association of Independent Music Publishers) Nashville Awards. The former college baseball player, who landed a publishing deal with Combustion Music in 2014, scored his first songwriting cuts with Florida Georgia Lines “Wish You Were On It” and “Talk You Out Of It” in addition to co-writing Chris Lane’s new single “I Don’t Know About You.” His debut EP, released in 2016, features the streaming hit “Midnight Daydream.” In addition to opening shows for Sam Hunt and Old Dominion, Rodgers has been selling out clubs throughout the south and Midwest this year. He will join Luke Combs Beer Never Broke My Heart Tour, kicking off in January. Read more at JamesonRodgers.com.