"This has been an amazing experience and I really can't thank you enough. This has been a huge stepping stone to the start of my career. I'm hoping it's opened a lot of doors for me."
Ashlee performed the Dixie Chicks' "Cowboy Take Me Away" during last Monday night's live episode, and she received rave reviews from the three sixth-season judges and mentors.
"One thing that I like is that you have more of an understated style," had commented Jewel. "I don't think you're a singer that's going out there trying to show dynamic, huge vocals every time to try and impress people. You have something understated. I've always had a soft spot for you. I think that you're more of an artist and I like that about you. I'm a fan personally."
"I thought last week you missed by a mile -- I wasn't happy with the song," said Jeffrey Steele. "This is the Ashlee that I love and have been hoping to see every week. I heard a couple of little notes kind of not hit there, but I know you know it and are aware of it. Good job, I'm proud of you."
"I thought tonight you felt more comfortable, you looked like you felt more comfortable than any week prior," commented John Rich. "It tells me one thing -- you are constantly growing every week. I think America's watching it happen right in front of their eyes. Great performance."
In addition to Ashlee, Shawn Mayer, a 21-year-old from May City, IA who currently resides in Madison, TN, was revealed to be the other member of this week's bottom two based on home viewer votes cast after last Monday night's broadcast. It was the second consecutive week Shawn found herself among the bottom two.
"I'm scared," said Ashlee after it was revealed she was in the bottom two. "But I've had such an amazing journey that if I go home, I'm going to be so blessed just to have been on this show."
Ashlee then performed her original song -- "Mike's Hard Lemonade" -- during last night's broadcast, and her effort was once again praised by all three judges.
"I've always really liked you," commented Jewel. "You're the one artist out of this whole show who has really felt like an artist. I'd love to help cut a record for you, I'd love to help write songs. That song was great. You sound like yourself. Tonight really helped showcase you."
"I've got to reiterate that if there's any doubt in anybody's mind about the level of talent and how great it's come along in the last few weeks and what we're seeing up here tonight, it's just amazing," said Jeffrey. "I'm really impressed by the songwriting skills at your age. I love the title. It's great, loved it."
"Everybody sitting here at this table tonight has been told no way more times than we've ever been told yes," said John. "Should you be gone tonight -- I hope you're not -- but I think Nashville would be a fool to not give you a record deal and not put your music on the radio."
"You're going to be a big star young lady," said Billy Ray to Ashlee. "You're very, very talented."
Nashville Star's penultimate episode will air live on Monday, July 28 at 9PM ET/PT, with each of the Top 4 finalists -- Shawn, Coffey, Gabe Garcia, and Melissa Lawson -- all performing again before one of them is eliminated based on home viewer votes cast immediately after last night's broadcast.
In addition, the home viewer votes cast after next Monday night's episode will determine Nashville Star's sixth-season champ -- who will be crowned during the show's live finale broadcast on August 4.
(Photo credit NBC)
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