'Nashville Star' names Top 20 second season finalists
By Reality TV World staff, 02/06/2004
USA Network has revealed the identities of the twenty finalists who will be competing on the second season of its Nashville Star country music artist competition.
The finalists include several contestants who, similar to last year's winner Buddy Jewell, have been trying to make it in Nashville for several years, as well as a Canadian and a Irishman.
The second season of the Nancy O'Dell-hosted grassroots talent search series premieres Saturday, March 6 at 10 PM ET/PT on USA Network.
The twenty finalists are:
• Anessa Andrews, age 21, from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Anessa is a 21-year-old singer/songwriter. She recently became engaged, has two cats, and is working at a radiology office. She began singing in church at the age of eight, and tried out last year for "Nashville Star", making it all the way to the top five in the Kansas City Regional. She plays the guitar.
• Eddie Barber, age 20, from Frankfurt, Kentucky. Eddie Barber is a multi-talented musician who plays the electric and acoustic guitar, the drums, and also writes his own songs. Eddie has been singing since he was five years old. He hails from Frankfurt, Kentucky, where he works on his family farm raising cattle and tobacco in addition to working at his family's saw mill. His biggest musical influences are Randy Travis, Hank Williams Jr. and Ronnie Milsap. Even if he becomes the next country music sensation, he plans to remain a farming man at heart.
• George Canyon, age 33, from Nova Scotia, Canada. George is a family man from Nova Scotia, Canada. He and his wife, who he met while doing a show in his hometown, have two children, Kale and Madison. George was formerly a Peace Officer in Nova Scotia to help support his musical career. He has been singing since he was four, and now plays the acoustic, electric, and bass guitars, as well as the keyboards, harmonica, dobro, mandolin, and even a little bit of pedal steel. He has been performing professionally for about 14 years, writes his own songs, and co-owns his own recording studio. His biggest musical influences are Elvis Presley, Keith Whitley, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Randy Travis, George Strait, Johnny Cash, Charlie Pride, and Merle Haggard. His biggest claim to fame (until now!) is that he is often mistaken for New York Ranger Mark Messier.
• Brad Cotter, age 33, from Auburn, Alabama. Brad is a singer/songwriter who has been touring and recording since the age of 11. Between the ages of 11 and 17, he recorded five gospel albums, two of which were recorded on major labels. He is single and resides in Nashville, where he has been making a living for the past eight years as a freelance demo singer and songwriter, writing songs for Warner/Chappell and EMI Music. He has been turned down by every label in Nashville at least four times. Brad has won a few talent contests over the years, and has learned to play piano, guitar, drums, and bass. His biggest musical influences include Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, Percy Sledge, Eric Clapton, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Merle Haggard.
• Gregory Delang, age 39, from San Angelo, Texas. Gregory has seen all sides of the recording industry: not only is she a performer, she also spends her days as a grassroots record promoter (in fact, she is currently promoting the new single by John Arthur Martinez). She has been a singer/songwriter for the past 20 years, getting her start singing to passengers and selling popcorn while working on the railroad as a kid. She has played clubs, festivals, and fairs, and won the 2003 "Best Female Artist, Americana" award at the Billy Block Western Beat contest. She has been married for 12 years, and is currently expecting her first child. Gregory plays guitar, and has been influenced by people like Marty Robbins, Roger Miller, Tom T. Hall, Roy Orbison, Patsy Cline, and Dolly Parton.
• Heather Green, age 27, from Cary, North Carolina. Heather is a full-time singer, model, and actress. She recently appeared as a featured dancer in Tim Burton's Big Fish, opposite Ewan McGregor and Albert Finney, and has also appeared in a Diamond Rio video. She is a songwriter with close to 100 songs under her belt, plays guitar and a little piano, and has recorded two CDs. Her musical influences include Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Wynonna, and Martina McBride. She is married, and makes a habit of picking up stray animals at any given opportunity.
• Austin Hanks, age 32, from Palmerdale, Alabama. Austin is a full-time singer/songwriter/guitar player. Although he is currently living in LA's San Fernando Valley, he keeps in touch with his southern roots: he plays in several singer/songwriter nights around LA, and is a part of the city's burgeoning country scene. Although he spends most of his time making a living playing guitar, he has also done some work on soap operas. He collects autographs of country stars, concentrating on "old school" stars like Buck, Merle, Waylon, and George.
• Jennifer Hicks, age 35, from Nashville, Tennessee. Jennifer combines elements of rootsy-country and breezy 70's California melodies into a style that is uniquely her own. With some of Nashville's biggest names as believers from working as a staff songwriter at Warner/Chappell Publishing for the past four years, Jennifer has had the freedom to experiment and define her own personal artistic style. Along the way, she has shared some of her songs with fellow artists, and after performing with her father Russ Hicks, renowned steel guitarist of seminal 70's alternative country heroes Barefoot Jerry, Jennifer has finally found her sound - and proved the old adage that the answer is never farther than your own backyard.
• Richie Jones, age 29, from Hurley, Mississippi. Richie is a warehouse manager at Mississippi Phosphates, as well as a singer/songwriter who has been the opening act at several country music concerts. He is married and has three children, Laney, Cole and Kara, from a previous marriage. He has been singing since the age of five, and plays guitar and drums. His musical influences include Randy Travis, Ronnie Milsap, Alan Jackson, and George Jones. He was the regional champ at the 1999 Jimmy Dean Country Showdown, and has recorded a demo of his original songs. He also enjoys motocross when he's not singing or working.
• Brent Keith, age 24, from Blanchester, Ohio. Brent lives in Clarksville, Ohio, where he writes his own songs and performs around the area. He currently works at P.C. Connection, and spends his off time with his girlfriend. Brent plays the guitar, bass guitar, harmonica, banjo, and keyboards. He has competed in the Colgate Country Showdown, where he placed in the top three in 1999, 2000, and 2001 and finally won the competition in 2002. His musical influences are The Warren Brothers, Jonny Lang, Keith Urban, The Eagles, Kenny Chesney, Garth Brooks, and Tim McGraw.
• Brennen Leigh, age 20, from Moorhead, Minnesota. Brennen attends Texas State University, and is part of a four-piece band that plays several nights a week in Austin, Texas. She plays the mandolin, guitar, and some fiddle. Her brother and boyfriend are also in the band; her brother plays guitar and her boyfriend plays the upright bass. She has been playing and traveling with a country band since she was 15. She also writes her own music.
• Matthew Lindahl, age 28, from Snellville, Georgia. Matthew is a jack-of-all-trades contractor who has had jobs from picking fruit to selling snow cones at the circus. He has been singing "since the womb stage," and has learned to play many instruments including the guitar, trumpet, mandolin, and the washboard. Not always satisfied with conventional instruments, he also invented one made out of two pieces of wood, a toilet paper holder, beer caps, a soup can, a coat hanger, and yarn. Matthew comes from a musical family in which his mom plays piano, his older sister plays the guitar, and his dad and other two sisters sing. He started writing and performing in a trailer while picking fruit on his grandfather's farm, and his musical influences include Robert Earl Keen, Hank Williams, Sr., bluegrass, and old Motown.
• Sheila Marshall, age 31, from Nacogdoches, Texas. Shelia is a full-time singer/songwriter who plays the guitar. After earning a musical scholarship in college, she started a band, recorded two CDs, and has now been performing professionally for seven years. She is close to her family, and first met her husband when they were booked on the same show. Her biggest brush with fame (before now!) was being cast as a prostitute in a television movie opposite Gene Simmons of KISS. Her musical influences Patsy Cline and Tammy Wynette.
• Sean Patrick Mcgraw, age 38, from Dunkirk, New York. After working as an asbestos removal technician for eight years, McGraw became a full-time singer/songwriter who has been a staff songwriter for King Lizard and Curb/Magnatone Music. He plays the guitar and mandolin, has a degree in classical guitar, and has been singing his whole life. He is married and comes from a close-knit family. His musical influences include Frank Sinatra, Van Halen, Dwight Yoakam, Hank Williams, Sr., and Bruce Springsteen.
• Stacy Michelle, age 33, from Memphis, Tennessee. Stacy is a full-time singer/songwriter who has sung on movie soundtracks, national commercials, and various albums. She has also been a studio musician and a backup musician, having shared the stage with Keith Richards, Robert Plant, and Johnny Rivers and recorded a duet with Jerry Lee Lewis. She has also recorded her own music, and once won an award for being the best female vocalist in Memphis, Tennessee. Her influences come from her musical family, in which her Dad plays guitar, mandolin, and blues harp and her brother plays drums, flute, and dulcimer. She plays the guitar, has been singing since she was 16, and currently has a boyfriend.
• Lance Miller, age 33, from Fairfield, Illinois. Lance comes from a musical family: his Dad worked as a professional entertainer for 15 years, and both his brother and sister play guitar and sing. Lance is a singer/songwriter who plays guitar, has been singing since he was four, has recorded his own music, and plays with his own band. He has made his living as a professional demo singer in Nashville for the past nine years, and works on his songwriting in his free time. He is originally from Illinois, but moved to Tennessee with his wife after they got married nine years ago. He had a publishing deal with EMI Music for two years that expired in 2002. His musical influences include his dad, Merle Haggard, Ronnie Milsap, and Glenn Campbell.
• Mal Rodgers, age 24, from County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Mal trained as a chef in County Artrim in Northern Ireland before giving it up to become a full time singer/songwriter. He plays the guitar, piano, harmonica, and tin whistle, but first launched his musical career at age three when he started playing the accordion. He competed in a local talent competition in Northern Ireland in July 2003 through which he won his first trip to Nashville, and his visit there solidified his dream to return to the United States and try and land a recording deal. He performs live in bars and clubs in Ireland 50 weeks out of the year, and has four brothers and a mother and father who support him 100%.
• Marty Slayton, age 37, from Alamo, Tennessee. Marty is the middle sister of three, and is close to her family. She has been a backup singer for top acts like Reba McEntire, Lee Ann Womack, Lorrie Morgan, George Strait, and Alan Jackson for the past seven years, including singing background vocals on Jackson's hit "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)." Her musical influences include Tammy Wynette, Barbra Streisand, Reba McEntire, and Aretha Franklin. She plays the guitar, does some songwriting, and grew up singing in church with her sisters, which gave her a strong spiritual background. She has a degree in communications.
• Laura Sullivan, age 22, from Front Royal, Virginia. Laura is a singer/songwriter from Virginia. She comes from a musical family in which her Dad plays the guitar and her Mom plays the piano, and Laura herself plays the flute, open hole bass, banjo, and piano. She was working an administrative assistant, but got fired from her job because of all the time she spent competing in the Nashville Star competition. If Laura "makes it big," she wants to start her own foundation for breast cancer research (her mother is a cancer survivor). Her musical influences include Sara Evans and Alison Krauss, and she once won a talent contest where the grand prize was to be the opening act for Keith Urban.
• Rachel Williams, age 18, from Belleville, Michigan. Rachel, who describes herself as a "Pol-billy" (half Polish, half hillbilly), is a college student at Eastern Michigan University, where she is in pursuit of a degree in Music Education. She has been singing since age three, performing since age 11, had her first radio interview at the age of 13, and recorded her first CD at age 15. When not in school, she works as a hostess at the local Cracker Barrel. She has a very supportive family and boyfriend. Rachel has opened for numerous national acts, has played at shows at fairs, and also spends time writing her own songs. Her musical influences include Wynonna, The Judds, Reba McEntire, Martina McBride, Patsy Cline, Bonnie Raitt, Carole King, and LeeAnn Rimes