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Second 'Nashville Star' season to feature new judges and numerous celebrity guest stars


By Reality TV World staff, 03/06/2004 

Nashville Star, the Nancy O'Dell-hosted grassroots talent search series to find the next country music superstar, will feature two new judges and a boatload of special country music guest artists during its second season, which premieres Saturday, March 6 at 10 PM ET/PT on USA Network.

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Returning as a judge this season will be Tracy Gershon, Senior Director of A&R and Artist Development at Sony Music Nashville. Joining her on the panel are well-known country radio personality Billy Greenwood, and singer/songwriter duo The Warren Brothers.

"We're confident that we've put together a panel with expertise and experience in all aspects of the music industry," said Nashville Star co-executive producer H. T. Owens. "From songwriting to performing, from music publishing and record label experience, and navigating the complex and exciting world of country radio, these people know how to get the job done and what to look for in the next 'Nashville Star.'"

Additionally, first season winner Buddy Jewell and country music stars including Joe Nichols, Rodney Crowell, Willie Nelson, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Terri Clark and Trace Adkins will be among the artists to appear and perform on the show, with more special surprise guests to be announced in the coming weeks.

Gershon's tenured career in the music industry has included work as a concert promoter for Avalon Attractions, Senior Director of Creative Services at Backstreet/MCA Records, artist manager, and song plugger and director of creative services for EMI Music. In 1989 Gershon was hired by SONY/ATV/TREE Music to run the pop division as well as exploit the country catalogues, and she was appointed Senior Director of Talent Acquisitions in 1992. In 1995 she became Vice-President of A & R at Imprint Records, where she was responsible for the signings and development of all artists on the roster. In January 1998, Gershon joined the Fitzgerald-Hartley Management Team as a partner in the High Seas Music Publishing Company and the Gershon Music Group, focusing on special projects such as album compilations, soundtracks, music supervision, and film opportunities.

In August of 2002, Gershon was hired as an A&R consultant for Sony Records, working with New York, Los Angeles and Nashville. At the label's Nashville division, she began work on Nashville Star. Her consultancy efforts eventually led to an invitation from the show's producers to become one of three on-camera judges for the series. Gershon served as Executive Producer on Nashville Star winner Buddy Jewell's first album for Columbia Records.

Billy Greenwood is a well-known voice at country radio, hitting the airwaves middays on The Big 98 WSIX FM in Nashville, afternoons on KSD "The Bull" in St. Louis, and evenings on WSSL in Greenville, SC. He has been working in country radio for thirteen years, starting in Sedalia, MO, and eventually working at stations including WKKX "Kix 106.5" in St. Louis and WQDR in Raleigh. He received the A.I.R. (Achievement In Radio) award for "Best Afternoon Show in St. Louis," as well as the Major Market Air Talent of the Year award from the Missouri Association of Broadcasters.

For the past five years in a row, the Warren Brothers (Brett and Brad) have been nominated as Country Music Association's Vocal Duo of the Year. They are also three-time Academy of Country Music Award nominees. The singles that introduced them to country audiences and won over fans include "Guilty," "Better Man," and "That's the Beat of A Heart," a duet with Sara Evans from the Where the Heart Is soundtrack. The Warren Brothers have opened for Tim McGraw and Faith Hill on their Soul to Soul tour and The Dixie Chicks on their Wide Open Spaces tour. The Brothers wrote the recent Lynyrd Skynyrd hit "Red, White and Blue" as well as Tim McGraw's "Who Are They?" The Brothers can be seen in the upcoming motion picture, Small Town Saturday Night. In addition to the feature film, the brothers just shot a pilot for CMT for a reality show based on them and their career. Outside of their on-camera accolades, 429 Records will release their new album, Well-Deserved Obscurity, in stores on April 6, 2004.

The first Nashville Star winner Buddy Jewell sold more albums than any other new country artist in 2003. His self-titled debut CD was produced by Clint Black and entered the Billboard Country Albums chart at #1, a feat achieved by only two other artists in over a decade. Jewell's self-penned debut single, Help Pour Out the Rain (Lacey's Song), was a top-five hit on the Billboard country airplay chart, after breaking a record as the highest charting debut by a solo country artist. Jewell will perform his current single, Sweet Southern Comfort, on the season premiere on March 7. The song is racing up the country charts and is currently at the number 11 spot. Jewell will also receive a gold record for his debut CD during the second season premiere.

Joining the show on March 21 is Universal South recording artist Joe Nichols. Lauded by the New York Times as “country music's next poster boy,” Nichols received a Grammy nomination for Best Country Male Vocal Performance for the second consecutive year in December 2003. This Grammy nomination, the fourth for his gold-certified Universal South debut album Man With A Memory, capped an unparalleled debut year for Nichols. In 2003 he won the coveted Horizon Award from the Country Music Association, was named Top New Male Vocalist by the Academy of Country Music, and won the Breakthrough Video of the Year Award from CMT: Country Music Television. Nichols is the first artist ever to win all three awards, and he did it all in one year. In January of 2003, Nichols received Grammy nods for Country Album of the Year (for Man With A Memory) and Best Male Country Vocal Performance for his chart-topping debut single The Impossible, which also received a Grammy nomination for Best Country Song. Nichols was voted Best New Artist of 2003 by the readers of Radio & Records. Billboard tapped him as Top New Country Artist of 2002, with The Impossible certified as the No. 10 most played song of the year, and Music Row magazine bestowed upon him its prestigious Critics’ Pick award.

Grammy-winning legendary singer/songwriter Rodney Crowell joins the March 28 show, which will focus on the contestants’ original songs. Crowell has written country and pop classics for Waylon Jennings, Bob Seger, Roger Daltrey, Crystal Gayle and Linda Ronstadt and was an integral member of Emmylou Harris’ Hot Band and the producer of Rosanne Cash’s landmark recordings. Acclaimed as an artist as well, his Fate’s Right Hand was named Album of the Year by the nation’s music critics in a poll by The Nashville Scene. Crowell was the first country artist to have five #1’s from one album, his platinum Diamonds & Dirt. Among the songs in the Houston-born singer/songwriter’s catalogue are Ain’t Living Long Like This, Shame on the Moon, ’Til I Gain Control Again, Please Remember Me, Ashes By Now and Leavin’ Louisiana in the Broad Daylight.

On April 4, Nashville Star will focus on the music of icon Willie Nelson, who will perform on the show. Nelson is currently touring the American East Coast and Southern states. Nelson turned 70 in 2003, and Columbia/Legacy marked the occasion by releasing The Essential Willie Nelson, a career-spanning retrospective covering his earliest recordings up through his recent celebrated releases on Island/Def Jam. Also released in 2003 was Run That By Me One More Time, from Willie and Ray Price, featuring eleven newly recorded interpretations of songs from the duo’s celebrated careers and other major collaborations. Another 2003 release was Willie Live & Kickin', an album recorded during his Memorial Day television special that features performances from music’s biggest superstars on many of Willie’s most beloved songs. Selections include Wurlitzer Prize (I Don’t Want To Get Over You), Willie’s song with Norah Jones, and Beer For My Horses, the chart-topping duet with Toby Keith.

Since releasing his first single in 1957, Willie Nelson has been a true American musical hero. His breakthrough album, 1975’s Red-Headed Stranger, contained his first smash hit, a remake of Roy Acuff’s Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain. That opened the door to an unbroken track record of artistic success and high cultural impact. In 1978 Nelson teamed up with Waylon Jennings to record Waylon and Willie and the country anthem Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys. In 1984 he threw a curve ball to his country fans by recording To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before with Julio Iglesias. Willie Nelson has won eight Grammys, including a President’s Merit Award, a Grammy Legend Award and in 2000 a prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award. Outside the recording studio, Nelson established himself as a champion of family farmers with his annual Farm Aid concerts. His Fourth of July Picnics have for the past quarter-century served as a musical rite of passage in Texas.

The pioneering southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd will appear on Nashville Star on April 11, when the contestants will perform southern rock classics. Lynyrd Skynyrd has endured, despite all odds, through death and disaster, as the signature rock group of America’s working people. With an impressive ability to constantly rekindle its creative fires, Lynyrd Skynyrd celebrated their 30th anniversary by releasing their first studio album in four years, Vicious Cycle, in 2003. The album’s first single, Red White and Blue, became the most played song at classic rock radio stations in 2003 and the most played Skynyrd single in 25 years. Their new single, Dead Man Walking, goes to radio March 8. A live album, from their DVD, Lynyrd Skynyrd Lyve, will be released in June 2004.

Terri Clark and Trace Adkins will join the show on April 18, when they will perform duets with the remaining contestants in the competition. Four-time Canadian Country Music Association -- and fan-voted -- Entertainer of the Year Terri Clark brings a full-tilt approach to the concert stage, where her Telecaster-wielding attack and Everywoman anthems make the hard country singer/songwriter a force to be reckoned with. USA Today praised her as “an unrepentant honky tonker in an age of divas,” and that no-nonsense good-timing bottom line has fired fans for over 5 million albums sold. She’s the only solo female in three years to have a #1 with her Radio & Records chart-topper I Just Wanna Be Mad. In addition, Terri’s hit hard with such pumped up country singles as I Wanna Do It All, When Boy Meets Girl, Easy On The Eyes, A Little Gasoline and Better Things To Do.

Trace Adkins, who became a member of the prestigious Grand Ole Opry in August of last year, is a showman of the first rank. With his basement-deep baritone voice, the Louisiana-native arrived on the country music scene in 1996 with his very first album selling more than a million copies. Since then, he’s registered a string of hits including Every Light In The House Is On, (This Ain’t) No Thinkin’ Thing, Chrome, I’m Tryin’ and Then They Do, to name a few. Adkins has become one of country music’s most consistent hitmakers and has won numerous music industry awards, appeared on countless national TV shows and has developed a huge base of devoted fans all across the United States and Canada. Comin’ On Strong is Adkins’ latest CD that hit stores in early December of 2003. Since its release, the album has been flying off the shelves and has already produced a Top 10 single with his current hit, Hot Mama, and #1 video. This success comes just six months after his recently certified gold Greatest Hits Collection entered the country album charts at #1 and #9 on Billboard’s Top 200.












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