Lindsay Ell isn't afraid to be a woman in country music. While some female artists might be discouraged by country's lack of women and the recent #SaladGate controversy, Ell definitely isn't one of them.

"It encourages me," Ell tells The Boot. "It makes me more like, ‘We have something to say.’

"Growing up, Shania Twain and Faith Hill and Martina McBride were my role models. I knew every word to every single song. And I feel like we need a new wave of females to fully support that," she adds. "Carrie [Underwood] and Miranda [Lambert] have been carrying so much weight and have done such an amazing job with that, but they need some backup. I feel like it’s a really good time for us."

Ell has already started making name for herself by joining an all-star cast of women, including Kelsea Ballerini, Mickey Guyton, Brandy Clark and Kacey Musgraves, named as CMT's Next Women of Country.

"I’m actually amazed at this whole women movement," Ell says. "This Next Women of Country thing is amazing. I feel like it’s such a good time for females right now. It excites me so much. It excites me so much to see fans wanting to hear more from female musicians, hear what we have to say. I think, as a guitar player, there’s not a lot of female guitar players in the genre, and it makes me even more driven."

The artist, who also plays the fiddle, piano and violin, has opened for several big acts, including Keith Urban and the Band Perry, and recently returned from touring Europe with Luke Bryan.

"He’s the kindest person," 26-year-old Ell gushes. "I had a lot of respect for him, but getting to hang out backstage and getting to see him sit at the piano and play -- I’m like, ‘Man, behind Luke Bryan’s dance moves, he’s a real artist.' He’s amazing. It was so eye-opening, and I have so much respect for him."

Ell is currently hard at work on her own debut album, which she says will be released later this year.

"I’ve been in the studio almost every day. I’m so excited to give fans the new music, and I can’t wait to hear what they think about it," Ell says. "I work 24/7. But, when you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work."

Watch Lindsay Ell's Jaw-Dropping One-Woman-Band Version of "Criminal"

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