IN & OUT

The finalists for Nashville Star arrive in their Music City home – and start to leave, one at a time, as the competition heats up

They're living in a huge house, they're the talk of the town and they're hanging with some of country's biggest stars – and that was just the first 24 hours in the TV lives of the Nashville Star finalists! Country Weekly caught up with the dozen contestants just after they'd moved into their home away from home, and just before they all became familiar faces on the USA Network.

"Everyone was so excited," reveals Amy Chappell on the first view of their swanky digs, which – among other customized amenities – include a guitar in every room. "I love that, any room you go into, you can pick up a guitar and play!"

When the doors to the house were opened, all 12 finalists ran inside and made a mad dash to pick their bedrooms – and their roommates.

"I'm stuck with two girls in a room," says Prentiss Varnon, feigning disappointment. "It's not bad, but it's going to be an adventure – not getting to go to the bathroom and brush my teeth because they've been in there all morning. But I have two sisters, so I'm kind of used to it."

Yet at least one of Prentiss' housemates thinks he protests too much. "From what I understand, he had to swap rooms about three times to get himself in that situation," declares Buddy Jewell with a laugh.

On their first night in the house, the group was greeted by a knock at the door. Standing on the other side was country superstar Clint Black, who will produce the winner's debut CD. Clint stopped by to welcome the contestants and offer a little advice.

"Wow! My face still hurts from grinning," said John Arthur Martinez.

But by the end of the first live competition on March 15, not everyone was smiling. Anne Louise Blythe was the first singer eliminated.

"I felt good about my performance," explained Anne afterward, "but the response from the judges made me think, 'I'm going to be the first one out of the house.' I knew it.

"When they said my name, I was fine," continued Anne, who worked as a server at a Nashville restaurant before her selection as a Nashville Star finalist. "I've had worse things happen to me. It's not like I lost my record deal, you know, because I never really had a record deal. I'm not discouraged at all."

Clint added his own words of support to Anne. "I told her, 'This just means that you're the first one,' " said Clint, " 'who gets to go look for a manager and a record deal.' "

And the first-to-go Anne will be having an increasing amount of company outside the Nashville Star house. By the time viewers pick the ultimate winner on May 3, 10 more ousted finalists will have sung their swan song.

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