Ashlee Hewitt talks about her 'Nashville Star' experience
By Christopher Rocchio, 07/23/2008
Ashlee Hewitt has no hard feelings about being booted from Nashville Star's sixth season despite being so close to the finale.
"I didn't know if I was staying or going, but I prepared myself for anything to happen because you just never know. Unfortunately [Monday] night was my last night," Hewitt told Reality TV World during a Tuesday conference call.
"But I felt really confident with my performance and I'm really glad that I got to perform my original [song] on national television. I feel really blessed that I got that opportunity."
While she may have been ousted, Hewitt received numerous compliments on her most recent performances from the sixth season's three mentors and judges -- John Rich, Jeffrey Steele and Jewel.
"That was really helpful for me. They were very, very supportive and encouraging," she told Reality TV World. "It means so much coming from three great artists who have been where I am and know exactly what I'm going through. So I left with some great encouragement."
Hewitt specifically singled out Rich, who had been her mentor throughout the competition.
"Over these few weeks, John has been my mentor and he's given me some really constructive criticism and it's helped me so much," she told Reality TV World. "I feel like I've grown an artist so much. Nashville Star was a great experience for me."
The positive feedback may have flowed from the judges, however home viewers apparently weren't as convinced with Hewitt's performances.
"There was a couple performances where I could have done a lot better," she told reporters during the conference call.
"It just really is song selection, and it's really hard with nerves and everything -- it's like a roller coaster. You never know what's going to happen, and when you're in the bottom two it's so hard to go out there and perform your best. So it's all about song selection and not letting your nerves get to you right before the show."
Hewitt said her "biggest challenge" was "finding songs that fit my style and not being able to perform my originals every week."
"That was hard for me because I'm a total songwriter," she told reporters.
Hewitt did get to perform one of her originals -- "Mike's Hard Lemonade" -- during Monday night's live broadcast, a goal she had set for herself.
"Writing songs is something that I truly love and something that really shows people who I am as an artist. It's a great way to express myself and really show my style of music," she explained. "So for me to be able to sing my original song on national television was great. I feel so blessed. That was one of my biggest goals in this competition was to get to that night. So I feel like I achieved that and I'm really excited I got to do that."
Just because she's been booted from Nashville Star doesn't mean Hewitt will stop writing original tunes.
"I'm going to have a lot to write about after this experience. It's going to be great, I've been writing in my hotel room too, a lot. I was kind of antisocial the last few weeks because I've been so focused," she said with a laugh. "It's been a great experience and I'm just going to keep writing and hopefully I'll be able to release some original stuff pretty soon."
In addition, Hewitt might be able to release original material sooner rather than later.
"I haven't been approached about a deal yet, but Billy Ray Cyrus took me aside [Monday] night and said, 'You are awesome. I can't believe you got eliminated,'" Hewitt told reporters. "He said his manager was standing backstage and his manager had been my No. 1 fan from the beginning of the show, so he could open up a lot of doors for me. That was really exciting."
Hewitt found herself among the bottom two vote getters during Monday night's episode with Shawn Mayer, a 21-year-old from May City, IA who currently resides in Madison, TN.
"I got really close with Shawn Mayer these last couple weeks, and [Monday] night was a really good night for her too," Hewitt told Reality TV World. "Her original song was very, very good. It gave me chills the whole time. She's a great person and she deserves so much. I really hope she goes far."
Regardless of how far Mayer makes it, Hewitt said the two plan on collaborating once Nashville Star concludes.
"We have big plans after the show," Hewitt told reporters. "We're going to write together and we're going to be lifelong friends... We have a lot of fun together. We're definitely going to remain close after the show."
While it appears finalist Gabe Garcia is the clear-cut choice to take home Nashville Star's sixth-season crown -- which will be awarded August 4 -- Hewitt wasn't ready to hand him the title just yet.
"I think Gabe is awesome and I think it's going to be really close in the end," she told Reality TV World. "It's going to be really hard to decide who's going to be the nextNashville Star."