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Monday night's (July 23) episode of Opening Act is chock-full of country stars, including Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley and Luke Bryan. But the E! show has had a regular country presence since it's debut earlier in July in the form of Martina McBride, who serves on producer Nigel Lythgoe's so-called A-List Artist Development Team, along with Mary J. Blige, Fall Out Boy member Pete Wentz and chart-topping producer Antonina Armato from Rock Mafia.
The development team combs the Internet to find the web's most talented amateurs, then gives them the once-in-a-lifetime chance to open for a top music superstar. But here, there are no judges to woo, auditions to pass or rounds to win: Each band or solo act has only days to prepare after a surprise visit that presents them with an opportunity they never knew existed, and viewers follow them from obscurity to the big-time gig that could change their lives forever.
Martina says the show's concept appeals to her. "I just like the idea that there are no auditions, no judges, nobody gets sent home," she tells CountryWeekly.com. "It's really just about making a dream come true, and having been an opening act myself, I know what it feels like to get that opportunity. These people are unsuspecting, they're just making videos in their living room or whatever, just making them for their friends, and all of a sudden they get surprised and get to be on a big stage opening for a headliner. I just thought it would be a cool thing to be a part of."
For her part, Martina says she's not surprised by the amount of undiscovered talent in America. "I know that there's a lot of talent out there," she says. "My daughters find them all the time on the Internet and show it to me. It's such an interesting way to get noticed. I think if I had the Internet when I was 15, 16 years old in Kansas, I would have put videos up myself.
"There are some really talented people and some pretty not talented people," she adds with a laugh. "It's cool to see when you're watching a video in a room that these people are going to get an opportunity. It's a pretty awesome opportunity."
Despite her enthusiasm for the show, she doesn't believe it replaces moving to Nashville to be discovered. "People have still have a dream to come to Nashville or go to L.A. to act or go to New York to do Broadway—whatever it is that you have a dream to do. I don't think that this replaces that, because you still have to be where the musicians are and where the business is. The chances of getting discovered on the Internet—when you think of the millions and millions of videos that are out there—is pretty slim."
Martina is hoping to be part of the show in future seasons. "It was a lot of fun and I'd love to have someone open for me sometime," she says. "That's the thing about this show—all of the headliners have been opening acts at some time, so there's a little bit of paying it forward."
Opening Act airs Monday nights at 10 p.m. CT.