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The runner-up in last year's 'Nashville Star,' John Arthur Martinez finally gets his short at making a dream come true.

Last year, Texas native John Arthur Martinez came in second on TV's Nashville Star. But he still came out a winner. In fact, the laid-back performer had no idea how much the talent show would change his life.

"I tried to be a fan at Fan Fair with my wife," recalls John Arthur, "but my fans wouldn't allow it! I remember waiting for my wife outside the ladies' room, and as she came out, she found me trapped - signing autographs. It easily took an hour to get out of there! It was exciting."

John Arthur was happy when his friend Buddy Jewell lived out his dream of landing a major record contract when he became last season's Nashville Star winner. But John Arthur couldn't be more excited now that his own album, Lone Starry Night, has been released. He'll never forget the night he signed his record deal.

"I was doing a show at a Nashville coffee shop called Bean Central," says John Arthur. "It was one of those magical nights where I felt like I was hitting every note and the emotion of the song lyric was being understood by everyone listening. There was a nice mixture of industry people and fans. It was one of the best performances of my life.

"We met with Scott Robinson of Dualtone the next night and he said, 'Let's do this.' I said, 'My gut feeling is that this record label is the right place.' So we shook hands there and proceeded as if we had a done deal."

Lone Starry Night includes John Arthur's first single, "Home Made of Stone," which Nashville Star fans will remember he sang on the show. He wrote the tune after one of the show's producers - who was shooting a segment in John's Arthur's hometown of Marble Falls, Texas - commented on how nice his double-wide trailer looked in the Texas Hill Country.

"I told him, 'My wife makes it look like a home fit for a king. But one day I'd like to get her out of this and put her in a home made of stone.' The editors grabbed that segment of the interview and aired it on the show. Several fans said to me, 'You need to write a song about that comment you made to your wife.' "

John Arthur liked the suggestion and got together with noted Nashville songwriter Steve Seskin. Within just hours the two had finished the song. "The very next week I sang it on television," he says.

John Arthur doesn't yet have the home of stone he wants for his wife and their four children, but he's hopeful about the future. "At this point, Yvonna and I realize that until the income increases, we're still not there yet," he reasons. "Maybe we'll have some success with this single and the album, and maybe by this summer we can look into moving.

"The dream, of course, is to one day build a two-story rock home high in the Texas Hill Country, overlooking one of the rivers."

-- Wendy Newcomer