It has been a breakout year for country newcomer Brittney Spencer. The Baltimore native has been out on the road serving as direct support on tour with Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, as well as Brett Eldredge’s Good Day Tour through mid-November.

Next year, Spencer will offer opening support for Reba McEntire in 2022, and she also recently announced her first-ever headlining trek, the In a Perfect World Tour, which will kick off on Dec. 2 in New York City.

With all the success she continues to have, Spencer remains resolute in her goal of ensuring country music is well represented for young aspiring singers to courageously pursue the dream she once had.

"I remember not seeing anyone that looked like me when I was younger," the 33-year-old singer tells People. "Now to be where I am now, and I'm not a household name, I'm not famous or anything, but there's a few people who know my name and they know my music."

"I hope that the generation coming up behind me gets to see the representation that I didn't get to see as a kid," she adds.

In terms of navigating through country music as a Black woman alongside singers such as Mickey Guyton, Sacha and Miko Marks, Spencer says she’s found comfort in "being comfortable with who I am has opened more doors than music ever could, in a world where people are always trying to decide on a persona to have."

However, the "Sober & Skinny" singer admits that walking this path confidently hasn’t always been the easiest, because, "people who look like me aren't always treated the best."

"I'm a plus-size Black woman and sometimes that narrative gets lost in some of the shinier ones," Spencer reflects. "Just figuring out who I am as an artist, figuring out the woman that I am, and being comfortable with just saying, 'This is who I am,' it's changed so much for me. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I'm very vulnerable."

It is this vulnerability and honesty that Spencer stands by in hopes of broadening country music’s inclusiveness to welcome everyone — artists and listeners alike — to its table.

"I want to make songs for everybody. I want to have a song for everything. I want to have a song that will meet people in whatever moments in life happen," she says. "I just want to find ways to be part of people's lives, and I do it best through music."

Spencer took the stage alongside Mickey Guyton and Madeline Edwards at the 2021 CMA Awards, singing "Love My Hair." Their live performance was introduced by Faith Fennidy, the young girl whose story of being discriminated against at her Louisiana school actually inspired the song.

Best Country Albums of 2021 - Critic's Pick

There have been many creative country albums in 2021, but not all have hit the mark. Artists are more than ever toying with distribution methods and packaging as much as they are new sounds, so you get double and triple albums, Part 1 and Part 2, and digital EPs in lieu of a traditional 10 or 11-song release.

The bar for an EP on this list of the best country albums of 2021 is higher than an LP, but one project did crack the Top 10. Too much music proved to dampen other artist's efforts, although Alan Jackson's first album in years was filled with country music we couldn't turn away from. Where Have You Gone has 21 songs, but somehow no filler.

More than ever, this relied on staff opinion and artistic merit to allow for some parity among major label artists and independents. The 10 albums listed below are not ranked, although the year-end list published in the fall will crown a true best album of 2021.