GRAND CANYON

He may have come in second on Nashville Star, but George Canyon is taking charge of the new opportunities that TV exposure has brought him.

Sitting in the Nashville hangout Caffeine, a groggy George Canyon takes a sip of coffee. He'll need the jolt for the busy day ahead.

"I never realized how little time you have in a day," he says. "You get pulled in all directions."

That's life since George catapulted to fame on the TV talent competition Nashville Star, in which he was voted the runnerup. In fact, this morning squarejawed George is wearing a Matt Lindahl T-shirt, a leftover from his summer tour with the guys he calls "the brothers I never had" - fellow Nashville Star finalists Matt, Lance Miller and winner Brad Cotter. "We all traded T-shirts," explains George. "I want to try and promote Matt, Lance and Brad any way I can." He smiles. "And it was the only thing I had clean!"

The Nashville Star experience changed George's life in many ways. To compete on the show, he said goodbye to his wife and their two children, 6-year-old Kale and 4-year-old Madison, leaving them behind in his native Canada as he headed for Music City. "There was one point where I went six weeks without seeing my family," he recalls. "It was terrible."

The sacrifice paid off - his Nashville Star success put a longsimmering career into overdrive. George, 34, has been writing songs since his boyhood in Nova Scotia, began singing professionally in 1989 and has released two independent albums.

"I've always had to work a second job to keep my head above water," he notes. "Thank God for the TV show, because that's the kick in the rear I needed."

Now that George's full-fledged major-label debut, One Good Friend, is in stores, he's adapting to real-life stardom. His children recently made the move to Nashville with his wife of 10 years, Jennifer. "My wife actually stuck with me for 10 years!" he chuckles. "Really, Jen and I treat every day like an anniversary. I'd be completely lost without her."

And now that he's set up housekeeping in Music City, he hopes to stick around for a while. "I just want to have an honest career," he says. "So many things have happened in the past year that I could never have dreamed of, I'm really a little flabbergasted. I don't know what to dream next!"

- CHRIS NEAL

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