TWO FOR ONE

Blue County's Aaron Benward and Scott Reeves are flying sky-high - but friendship and family keep the hot duo grounded.

What goes up must come down, but gravity has yet to affect Blue County. The hot duo of Aaron Benward and Scott Reeves rocketed to success with a Top 20 debut, "Good Little Girls," and their new single, "Nothin' but Cowboy Boots," is fast on its heels.

"It's hard to grasp sometimes," says Scott of their rapid rise. "I never once expected us to be where we are at this point."

Where exactly are they? Last spring they received nominations for the Academy of Country Music Awards even before the their album was released. They've shared the stage with Tim McGraw, Wynonna, Montgomery Gentry, Phil Vassar and Kenny Chesney as "Good Little Girls" climbed the charts. They received a rare standing ovation at their Grand Ole Opry debut. And, when the CMA's top duo nominations were announced, Blue County made the cut.

Heady stuff for guys who formed their partnership mere months before signing a record deal in April 2003. But they're not exactly novices.

Since his teens, Aaron performed with his father, Jeoffrey Benward, as the contemporary Christian music duo Aaron Jeoffrey. And soap fans will recognize Scott as Ryan McNeil from The Young & the Restless - a character he played from 1991 to 2001.

Yet both downplayed their histories as they launched Blue County. "Our label knew nothing about our past careers until about six months after we were signed," says Aaron.

Explains Scott, "There's always been this thing, 'Oh it's an actor trying to be a singer.' Or vice versa. A lot of singers want to be actors. But I think the reason it's worked for us is that we let the music speak for itself - and then it just kind of unfolded naturally."

For Aaron, switching from Christian music to country angered some fans. "I did get some nasty e-mails with regard to selling out or leaving my roots," he says. "But now there's a lot of people coming up to us when we're signing our Blue County CDs, and they'll have my old solo album, or my records with my dad. A lot of country fans are Christian-music fans, too."

Scott's previous fame often comes up in the form of soap fans shouting his Y&R character's name. "You know, they don't realize it's me until they get to the show, and then they'll yell, 'Ryan!' " says Scott. "At this point, it's cool. I think even people in the industry find it kind of cool that we broke through that 'barrier.' We're making new fans every day - but we do have this entire [other] fan base that knows who we are, and loves and accepts us."

- WENDY NEWCOMER

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