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Meet Eric Ethridge, 2016 CCMA Discovery Program finalist

Melody Lau

The Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) Discovery Program was created in 2013 as an initiative to help support new artists pursue careers in country music. Each year, participants chosen for this program are brought together to learn about the music business from industry insiders and artist mentors, with finalists putting their newfound knowledge to use at the CCMA Discovery Showcase at Country Music Week.

This year, the CCMA Awards will take place in London, Ont., on Sept. 11, and the Discovery Showcase will take place on Sept. 8. Here, we will spotlight some of this year's up-and-comers slated to perform.

Name: Eric Ethridge
From: Sarnia, Ont.

Eric Ethridge started writing music in high school and spent time performing at clubs and bars while attending university in London, Ont. Since then, the football player-turned-country artist has garnered attention for both his original songwriting and his cover songs on YouTube, including his most popular one to date, a three-person cover of Luke Bryan and Karen Fairchild's "Home Alone."

He now performs with a seven-piece band, and last year Ethridge teamed up with Juno-nominated fiddle player and producer Matthew Piche. Ethridge's music is a mix of country, pop and rock, and he hopes to work with likeminded artists in the future.

"I'm always impressed by artists that are genuine, have a great work ethic, and admidst their fame and celebrity, manage to remain humble," he told the Canadian Country Music Association. "I have a lot of respect for artists that give their fans the time of day, and use their social influence to create positive change."

Specifically on Ethridge's bucket list of collaborators is CCMA Award-nominated artist Deric Ruttan. "He's a prolific writer and keeps pumping out hits over the years," he explains. "Hopefully some day I'll get a chance to write one with him!"

Ethridge is looking to release his debut single soon, and hopes to finish his first EP next year.

Watch the 2016 CCMA Awards on Sept. 11 at 8 p.m. (8:30 p.m NL), live on CBC Television.