(CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — So far, twice the number of contestants are showing up in every audition market for Nashville Star, USA Network’s original grassroots talent search to find America’s next country music star. With several major markets still to come, the nation’s top-rated country music program, which gives one artist their big break, has already exceeded expectations to find the most talented and deserving cast when the show returns in March for its fourth season.
"So far this year, we have doubled the turn out in each market from previous years and the talent we are seeing is amazing," says Executive Producer Jeff Boggs. "With huge stops in Nashville, Washington D.C., and Houston still to come, this will be the largest casting turnout in the history of our show by far! We look forward to seeing what the rest of the markets bring."
For the first time, this year Nashville Star executive producers enlisted some of the top music critics in the country to help in the judging process. From the Daily Oklahoman in Oklahoma City to the St. Petersburg Times in Tampa, music critics have been raving about the talents of their hometown areas. "It really was a lot of fun and it gave me a new insight and respect to how well Nashville Star goes after talent just as much as image," said Stacy Petersonof the Fayetteville Observer.
"I was absolutely blown away by the talent," says St. Petersburg Times Pop Music Critic Sean Daly. "By Sunday, many people had been weeded down, so I saw the very cream of the crop. Some of these kids were still in high school–but the original songs they performed could be hits today."
Sandi Davis, music critic for the Daily Oklahoman, helped judge day two of Oklahoma City and noted: “The caliber of talent who made it to the second round was amazing. I can’t imagine having to weed out from the first round. We even had a guy show up from Germany ! I truly believe the show found their next Nashville Star right here. I can’t wait to tune in and see the finals.”
Upcoming casting markets include Portland, D.C., Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Nashville, Indianapolis, Houston and Las Vegas . Casting markets completed include Los Angeles, Chicago, Morgantown, Phoenix, Oklahoma City, Dallas , Lincoln, Raleigh and Tampa.
The auditions are open to women and men, ages 18 and over (as of January 1, 2006), who think they have what it takes to become the next Nashville Star. Those auditioning will have one minute to perform a song off an approved song list. For the those invited back for the second day, they will be asked to sing two (2) songs from an approved song list or one (1) approved and one (1) original song. The top contestants then proceed to one of two regional competitions to again audition for a chance to appear on the show.
As in the past, the winner of this season’s Nashville Star will receive a major music recording contract with a top-level record label. The first three seasons of the series have launched the careers of promising artists including Jewell, Lambert and 2005’s Erika Jo.
Nashville Star is created by Reveille and executive produced by Ben Silverman ("The Biggest Loser," "The Office") and H.T. Owens ("The Restaurant," "30 Days"). Jeff Boggs will executive produce in association with Reveille. The show is produced by Jon Small ("Garth Brooks Live From Central Park," "Billy Joel Live at Yankee Stadium") and his production company, Picture Vision, alongside co-executive producer Mark Koops ("The Restaurant," "Blow Out"). –Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen