NBC reveals identities of 'Nashville Star' Top 12 sixth-season finalists
By Christopher Rocchio, 06/05/2008
NBC has revealed the identities of Nashville Star's Top 12 sixth-season finalists, who will be competing on the first installment of the reality series to air on the network after its first five editions aired on its sister network USA.
Hosted by former Dancing with the Stars fourth-season celebrity participant Billy Ray Cyrus, Nashville Star's sixth season will premiere Monday, June 9 at 9:30PM ET/PT.
Nashville Star's sixth-season debut was filmed Monday at Nashville's Acuff Theater in the Opry Entertainment Complex, with the Top 12 finalists each performing for a studio audience and the sixth-season judging panel -- country singer, songwriter and producer John Rich; fifth-season host Jewel; and songwriter and producer Jeffrey Steele.
At the conclusion of the pre-taped broadcast, the judging panel will eliminate one of the Top 12 finalists. In addition, Nashville Star's sixth-season debut will include highlights from its open casting calls and a performance by Taylor Swift.
Beginning with its second episode on June 16 in its regular Mondays at 9PM ET/PT time slot, Nashville Star sixth-season episodes will air live, with home viewer votes determining which acts remain in the competition and who is given the boot.
The grand prize winner will receive a Warner Bros. record deal; a North American tour; a performance at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, which will commence August 8 and be broadcast on NBC; and a Toyota Tundra.
For the first time in Nashville Star's history, the competition was open to duets, trios and solo artists, and the show's minimum age requirement was lowered from 18- to 16-years-old. The sixth-season cast includes two trios and a duet, and two contestants who took advantage of the lowered minimum age requirement.
Nashville Star's Top 12 sixth-season finalists -- as well as their NBC-supplied bios -- are:
Alyson Gilbert, a 28-year-old from Crookstown, MN who currently resides in Jackson, TN
Stunningly beautiful former Miss St. Paul, Alyson has a passion for music and animals. Her husband quit his job so Alyson could pursue her dream of music. When not performing at local bars and parties, Alyson studies veterinarian science at the University of Tennessee in Martin.
Ashlee Hewitt, a 20-year-old from Lancaster, MN who currently resides in Nashville, TN
With her dad currently in Iraq training Iraqis, Ashlee is hoping to stay on the show for a few weeks so her dad can see her perform when he returns to the States for a short leave from overseas. One of 13 children, Ashlee grew up on a 2,500 acre horse ranch in Minnesota and is a true country girl - she's comfortable driving tractors, catching fish or riding one of her family's 70 horses. Now, Ashlee's left her family and her farm to move to Nashville in pursuit of her dream.
Charlet Jenkins, a 29-year-old from Roosevelt, UT who currently resides in Murray, UT
Everybody has been affected by cancer but for Charley Jenkins, it partly defines who he is. Five years ago Charley moved away from home to pursue his music career but when his dad was terminally ill with cancer, Charley returned home to Utah. A year later, Charley's dad passed away and now Charley includes a song he wrote about his father in every set he performs to have his dad still be close to him. With a 2-year-old daughter and a wife at home, this true good-old-boy from Utah wants to make his family proud -- and his dad smile from above.
Coffey, a 28-year-old from Bangs, TX who currently resides in Los Angeles, CA
According to Coffey, being away from his 5-year-old daughter Savannah is like holding his breath and suffocating. As a single father, Coffey is competing for two--- himself and his daughter. He loves country music, entertaining and being a Southern gentleman. While most move to Nashville, Coffey left his small town in Texas for Los Angeles where he can often be found performing on the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, trying to sell a CD as people pass by.
Gabe Garcia, a 28-year-old from Lyle, TX who currently resides in Dickson, TN
Gabe Garcia is proud of his roots and wants to inspire other Hispanics to pursue a career in country music, just as Rick Trevino inspired him. The ultimate Tex-Mex cowboy, Gabe left San Antonio and his job of 10 years after his father passed away last October to follow his dream and he's not turning back. With his family's support, Gabe wants to be the next Nashville Star with his mother cheering him on from the audience.
Justin Gaston, a 19-year-old from Pineville, LA who currently resides in Los Angeles, CA
Originally from Louisiana, Justin left home at age 17 to pursue a career in music, while supporting himself as a model. Only after suffering heartbreak from breaking up with his long-distance girlfriend did Justin realize how isolating living on his own can be at a young age. With his good looks and great voice, Justin is the ultimate teenage country heartthrob.
Laura Fedor, an 18-year-old from Willoughby, OH, and Sophie Zalokar, a 16-year-old from Willoughby
To look at Laura and Sophie is to see two high school teenagers who should be enjoying their summer vacation from school. Instead, Laura is missing her high school graduation and spent her last three weeks at home fighting with her parents who forbade her from doing Nashville Star. The 18-year-old chose to go against her parents' wishes to spend the summer with her best friend Sophie as they try to pursue their dreams at a young age. With Laura still wearing braces and Sophie barely legal to drive, these teens are unlike anything else in country music.
Melissa Lawson, a 31-year-old from Arlington, TX who currently resides in Dalworthington Gardens, TX
At age 31, Melissa is the oldest female contestant this season on Nashville Star. A working mother with five sons, Melissa wants to prove that country music is about the songs and the voice, not about the size jeans you where. She's the "every woman" in pursuit of the ultimate dream and she didn't leave her family to lose the competition.
Pearl Heart, a trio from Florissant, MO that currently resides in Thompson's Station, TN and consists of 20-year-old twins Amy and Angela Krechel and their 17-year-old sister Courtney
The female trio Pearl Heart is a family affair with twin sisters Amy and Angela singing alongside their little sister Courtney. After watching their daughters perform together for years, Pearl Heart's parents packed up their bags and moved their family to Tennessee for their daughters to more seriously pursue their music career. By making Top 12 of Nashville Star, the Krechel sisters are hoping to prove to their parents that the move paid off.
Shawn Mayer, a 21-year-old from May City, IA who currently resides in Madison, TN
From a town of 45, Shawn skipped lunch at school to avoid finding someone that would sit with her or having to sit alone, because unlike her classmates, Shawn was spending her weekends earning money by performing in bars and not hanging out at the mall. Her parents encouraged her to make her own way and she rewarded them by hiring them to be part of her team as she pursued her dreams. She's worked on a hog farm, is a mechanic and a volunteer firefighter but the girl really just wants to be on a stage.
Third Town, a trio from San Antonio, TX that currently resides in Las Vegas, NV and consists of 37-year-old Jeffrey Fairchild, 29-year-old James "Little Tony" Kouns and 35-year-old Tony Mosti
First, Jeffrey, "Little Tony" and Tony tried to make it in San Antonio, then Pigeon Forge, TN and third, they went to Las Vegas where they found their name -- Third Town. After their tryout for Nashville Star, the three were told that they didn't make the show's Top 12 and they returned to Las Vegas and resumed their lives of pounding the pavement in pursuit of their dreams. Then, the day before the first show taping, they got the call that will forever change their lives - they had made the Top 12. Though each one performed in a separate show in Vegas, James, Tony and "Little Tony" dropped everything and headed to Nashville.
Tommy Stanley, a 23-year-old from Cushing, OK who currently resides on the USS Kitty Hawk
Tommy Stanley was working as an engineer on the USS Kitty Hawk and stationed in Japan when he filmed his video audition for Nashville Star. Once finding out he'd made it to the Norfolk military audition, Tommy flew from Japan to Virginia with the hope of taking a leave from duty to pursue his music. He hasn't seen his father in a year or his mom in three years but he hopes to perform before them on the show.