On July 4th I got to be a judge for the Colgate Country Showdown, sort of a country-radio version of American Idol. The winners advance to the regionals, and then national competition where they get to sing in Nashville at the Ryman Auditorium with Leann Rimes.
Here I am with the other judges, both professional singers. Bobby, the guy in the middle, toured as a backup singer for Kenny Rogers and had some interesting stories.
We heard 16 contestants (14 of them who were women, only 2 men) and they ranged from pretty lame to pretty awesome. And some just pretty. I heard more Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood songs than I'd ever heard in my life previously. A few of the teenaged beauty-pageant types were loaded with potential: a couple more years of experience, some guitar lessons, and a good producer, and we could have some stars on our hands.
Here's Anna Reynolds, my favorite performer of the day. An 18 year old with a real hippie vibe, and a great voice not unlike Allison Moorer. Deep vocals, with a lot of vibrato...kind of a surprising sound coming out of her. Her image was not "mainstream country" but she was definitely the coolest act in the competition. Unfortunately the other judges must not have appreciated her, 'cause she didn't even make the top 3, despite my high score.
The winner was a Tim McGraw clone who had the country-stud image down perfectly (including the giant hat), and a truly incredible singing voice, complete with all the twang and yelps and honkeytonk hiccups. He was my third-highest vote getter. He'll go on to compete in the regionals.
It was nice to see some young Yoopers pursuing their showbiz dreams!