The Kiss Country Chili Cook-off has a big headliner, as usual, but the undercard on Sunday's festival boasts plenty of young energy and success.
Rascal Flatts is the main draw at this year's Cook-Off, bringing optimistic, pop-infused songs — 14 of them No. 1s — that have earned the band seven ACM Vocal Group of the Year awards.
Joe Nichols makes a nice subheadliner. The 37-year-old has landed 14 No. 1 singles, including "Brokenheartsville" and "Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off," as well as his current "Sunny and 75," as appropriate a tune for an outdoor festival if there ever was one.
But before Rascal Flatts and Nichols take the stage, it will be occupied by three singers younger than 30.
Cassadee Pope, 24, should be familiar to Cook-off attendees, having won NBC's "The Voice" in December 2012. But Pope, who grew up in West Palm Beach, already had a solid fan base here, as lead singer for the pop group Hey Monday (they're on hiatus, she says). Pope's "Wasting All These Tears" has reached No. 5 on the country charts.
Brantley Gilbert won the 2013 Academy of Country Music's Top New Male Artist Award, thanks to his two No. 1s, "Country Must Be Country Wide" and "You Don't Know Her Like I Do." The 27-year-old will release his next album in February.
The son of songwriter Rhett Akins, Thomas Rhett, 23, had four hits from his "It Goes Like This," including the title track. He has the writer's gift: Rhett co-wrote "1994" by Jason Aldean and "Parking Lot Party" by Lee Brice. And, to repeat: He's only 23.
For those people who don't know Rascal Flatts — though it would be hard not to — the group has been riding its 2102 album, "Changed." It is the trio's eighth studio album, and the seventh in a row to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard Country Albums chart. The album's No. 1 singles include "Why Wait," "I Won't Let Go" and "Easy." The band says a new album is coming soon, and a single, "Rewind," debuted this week.
The Kiss Country Chili Cook-off begin 10 a.m. Sunday at C.B. Smith Park, 900 N. Flamingo Road, in Pembroke Pines. Tickets are sold out, so consult secondary-ticket brokers.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun