When Lindsay Ell found out she had been nominated to the ballot for the 2019 Country Radio Seminar New Faces of Country Music program, the news was a highlight in an already exciting week for the up-and-coming country artist. Ell kicked off her first-ever headlining Monster Energy Outbreak Tour in October, and she got the news that she'd been included on the ballot just after getting into Penascola, Fla., for the third show of the tour.

"I'm just really honored to be part of the ballot," Ell gushed to The Boot in a recent interview, while on the road to her Nov. 9 tour stop in Knoxville, Tenn. "This year has been incredible, in that I've gotten to experience so many firsts like that. And I just feel so blessed and grateful to be experiencing all these moments, and be able to get to do what I love every single day and call it a job."

Ell is the only female artist nominated for the 2019 New Faces class. She says it's an honor to represent women in country music, although she agrees that there's no shortage of deserving female musicians who could easily have been nominated alongside her.

"It was funny, because I posted the graphic [on Twitter] right when I got it, and fans responded right away and were like, 'We can't believe there's only one female!'" she says. "CRS was right on top of things, and said that I was actually the only female who qualified this year. So I guess they have a list of requirements of what qualifies for New Faces, and I guess I was the only one who qualified who hasn't done it in the past."

According to the Country Radio Seminar's website, artists who qualify for their New Faces program must have earned between one and five Top 25 singles on either the Mediabase Country Chart (as published in Country Aircheck) or on the BDS-based Country Chart during the program's qualification period, which runs from Nov. 1 through Oct. 31, ahead of the organization's annual New Faces show. They also must not have been selected to perform at a previous New Faces show.

While it's no secret that female artists see markedly less radio play (solo female acts made up just 10.4 percent of artists played on country radio between 2016 and 2017, according to Country Aircheck), it's also true that rising acts fight bias with camaraderie and teamwork. Ell says that in fact, being in the midst of a community of women that support each other is part of what makes Nashville so special.

"As far as female artists with other fellow female artists, they're my friends and I want them to win and I want them to do well," she explains. "It's amazing to watch how we've grown as a community. It's very rare to find a group of female artists where a bunch of them root for each other and want each other to have success, want each other to do well. I feel really lucky that Nashville's like that."

Plus, she adds, the country community is teeming with talented women: "I think it's an amazing time for country music right now because I feel like female artists right now are writing great songs, recording great songs, and there's so many talented females out there," Ell continues.

To prove her point, Ell kicked off CMA Week 2018 by headlining the Budweiser Country Club's official CMA showcase on Sunday night (Nov. 11) with an all-female lineup that included the Sisterhood, Kassi Ashton and Clare Dunn. At the end of Ell's closing set, she brought out all three acts that preceded her, as well as two other female artists -- Cassadee Pope and Natalie Stovall -- for a powerhouse sing-a-long on the Beatles' "With a Little Help From My Friends."

Country Music's Best Guitarists