‘Idol’ Alum ‘Still in Shock’ After Being Named One of CMT’s Next Big Country Stars

Laine Hardy American Idol

ABC/Eric McCandless Laine Hardy and Laci Kaye Booth on "American Idol"

The “dreamy country” vibe that Laci Kaye Booth has become known for in Nashville is lifting her to new heights. Country music cable channel CMT has named Booth, who placed fifth on season 17 of “American Idol,” one of its 2022 “Next Women of Country” and the singer says she’s “still in shock” over the honor.

CMT Shares Interview with Booth on Social Media

At age 27, Booth is one of 10 rising stars named to the Class of 2022 in CMT’s annual “Next Women of Country” honors. Past recipients include Carly Pearce, Kacey Musgraves, Kelsea Ballerini, Lainey Wilson, Maren Morris, and fellow “Idol” alums Gabby Barrett and Lauren Alaina.

The 2022 honorees were announced in January, with events and promotion of the artists happening throughout the year, including an interview with Booth that CMT shared on Instagram and YouTube on September 13, 2022.

“I’m still in shock,” Booth exclaimed in the interview. “Every time I pass the CMT building, I think ‘that’s me! I’m part of that!'”

Reaching this level of success has been a lifelong dream for Booth. During her 2018 audition for “American Idol,” she revealed that being on the show had been her dream since she was seven years old. The summer after the show, the Livingston, Texas native moved to Nashville to work on her music full-time.

According to Main Street Nashville, Booth met with record label Big Machine in January 2020 and they wanted to sign her that night. But things got delayed due to the pandemic, so she didn’t sign her record deal until that summer. The following August, she released her debut, self-titled album.

“I would describe my music as dreamy country,” she told CMT, which is different than the big, brash voices she once thought were necessary to make it in the industry. “I was purely raised on country music as a child and what I discovered on my own was Stevie Nicks and Norah Jones. I became absolutely infatuated and I feel like they shaped my direction of music a whole lot.”

In addition to the CMT honor, playing at Stagecoach music festival and meeting some of her own idols rank among her highlights of 2022.

“Getting to meet artists like Carly Pearce, and getting to pass Miranda Lambert at the CMAs, I felt my knees go weak a little bit, to be honest,” she said.

Booth Still Gets Stage Fright Before Performances

2002 Next Women of Country

GettyReyna Roberts, Tenille Arts, Jessie James Decker, Laci Kaye Booth and Lily Rose are among CMT’s Next Women of Country honorees, August 2022

Though she’s performed in front of millions on TV, Booth still gets stage fright before a concert.

“I still get so nervous that I feel like I’m about to puke,” Booth told Forbes in August 2021. ”I compare (performing) to getting a shot or getting your blood drawn. I have to look at it and think about it. I have to prepare myself mentally.”

An introvert at heart, Booth told Forbes she does breathing exercises to calm down before performing. And though she loves being on stage once her anxiety subsides, her favorite part of the business is songwriting in the studio.

In late April, Booth performed on “Idol” with season 17 winner Laine Hardy for a 20th-anniversary reunion show. The two have remained friends since they were contestants and, at the time, she said she was looking forward to performing together as buddies, covering “Stop Dragging My Heart Around,” for which the judges gave them a standing ovation.

In addition to her CMT honor, Booth has also been named to 2022 “Artists To Watch” lists by Sounds Like Nashville and Country Now.

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