REALITY TV GOES COUNTRY

Want to see country music's next sensation? Then tune in to Nashville Star, a new nine-episode talent competition premiering March 8 on the USA Network. Nashville Star began its nationwide talent search with more than 8,000 contestants from all over the country. After regional competitions in Nashville, Los Angeles, Kansas City, Houston and Baltimore, the field was narrowed to 100.

Now only 12 finalists remain! They'll all be competing for the coveted "Nashville Star" title. And you can watch their every move over eight intriguing episodes as they prepare for the final showdown.

Combining the best of American Idol and The Real World, Nashville Star will follow these talented hopefuls as they live together in a house in Nashville. Cameras will record the friendships, heartbreaks – and the quarrels – that develop during the eight-week challenge.

The finalists will also be competing against each other, performing live at some of Nashville's most famous clubs, There's a lot at stake for the dreamy-eyed dozen. The winner gets a recording contract with the Sony Music label in Nashville. What's more, country superstar Clint Black will produce the winner's debut album.

In the premiere episode, viewers will see how the final 12 were chosen. Judges and the TV audience will eliminate contestants at the end of each week's episode.

The final episode will feature the two finalists competing head to head for the Sony contract and the "Nashville Star" title.

Nashville Star judges are singer/songwriter Charlie Robison (who's married to Emily Robison of the Dixie Chicks), noted country music journalist Robert Oermann and Sony consultant Tracy Gershon.

There'll also be guest celebrity judges from time to time. Actress Kathleen McClellan is the host.

Here's a look at the 12 talented finalists you'll meet on the March 8 episode.

JOHN ARTHUR MARTINEZ

This very busy father of four owns and runs a small independent record label in Texas. He performs traditional country in the clubs around Austin.

BUDDY JEWELL

He makes his living as a professional demo singer in Nashville. A few years ago, Buddy won the Male Vocalist category for three episodes of Star Search.

ANNE LOUISE BLYTHE

Originally from California, she's paying her typical Nashville dues – waiting tables while chasing her big break. Her style incorporates traditional country with a modern flair.

BRANDON SILVEIRA

This California resident spends his days working on a farm and his evenings writing country songs. "I don't look the country part, but I have strong country roots," he says.

MIRANDA LAMBERT

This Texas native won the regional competition in Houston. She performs and tours with her band in the Dallas area, where she has built a loyal following.

BRANDI GIBSON

She loves the blues and the honky-tonk sounds of the 1970s. Born and raised in Kentucky, Brandi works in Mayfield as an emergency dispatch operator.

PRENTISS VARNON

Another Texas native who works at a family-owned business, he lists Garth Brooks, George Strait and most all of Texas music as his influences.

JAMEY GARNER

A performer on the New York City scene, he took the regional contest in Baltimore. The Illinois native declares, "I try to inhabit a song. Live it!"

AMY CHAPPELL

A Music City resident, she captured the Nashville Regional. The singer/songwriter currently plays many of the Nashville clubs and sees the contest as "an amazing opportunity."

KRISTEN KISSLING

She currently lives in Austin, sings contemporary, popinfused country and often adds dance moves and impressions to her set. "I'm spunky with lots of energy on and off the stage," she says.

TASHA VALENTINE

The winner of the Kansas City Regional calls herself a throwback to the early female honky-tonkers. She works as a Patsy Cline impersonator in Albuquerque, N.M.

TRAVIS HOWARD

He currently resides in Los Angeles and won the Nashville Star regional competition in that city. Travis grew up in rural Georgia listening to Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson and other hardcore legends.

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