It's been a wild couple of years for Gabby Barrett, who placed third on American Idol's 16th season in 2018. Since her win, the singer has begun making her way in Nashville, releasing "I Hope" as her debut single.

Co-written by songwriting mainstays Jon Nite and Zachary Kale, the song immediately established Barrett as an artist with powerful vocal chops and a penchant for traditional country storytelling, landing her critical acclaim and a spot in CMT's Next Women of Country Class of 2020.

"It's a complete honor," Barrett says of her spot on that roster. "To be part of something that amazing has been insane, because I never thought that this would ever happen, and I'm so grateful toward CMT and everything they've done for me."

After all, Barrett began her post-Idol journey as an independent artist, without the backing of a label. After coming off the show, she had to rely on her songwriting, hoping that the right new release would give her the momentum she needed to break into the mainstream. Now, with help from "I Hope" and subsequent releases including "Hall of Fame" and "The Good Ones," Barrett is starting to see that hard, self-driven work come to fruition.

In fact, the singer sees no reason not to dream big. On the red carpet before the 2019 CMA Awards, Barrett admitted to The Boot that she hopes that her growth and progress will be reflected at the following year's awards show.

"To be nominated for a CMA Award next year would be cool, or to perform," she muses. "Seriously, that is one of my goals for next year, though."

Barrett grew up watching the CMA Awards at home, and for her and her family, the annual ceremony is the pinnacle of success and big moments in country music. "It's always been on my TV at home. To actually be here and think about it and take a moment to let it really sink in, it's really, really, really cool," she says.

With her career rapidly on the rise, Barrett has to grab those moments of reflection where she can. She's already begun an even busier 2020, complete with a Staples Center performance with Kane Brown, and many more exciting plans on the horizon.

"I'm doing Stagecoach [this] year. I'm doing Tortuga [this] year," she rattles off. "And I have new music coming [this] year."

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