A dozen aspiring country music artists will vie for a chance to have their music played on The Country Network and be represented by an agency whose roster includes Brad Paisley, Chris Young and some of the genre’s hottest up-and-comers.
And it all started in Tucson.
The online contest, #GotSway, was the brainchild of Tucson country music social media guru Jessica Northey-Shaw, who tapped a few of her celebrity friends — Neal McCoy, Cowboy Troy and the London country trio Essex County among them — to be judges. She also teamed up with the boutique Nashville agency The Artist Management Group, which could add the winner to its star-studded lineup.
Northey-Shaw said the idea came during a casual conversation about music in the coronavirus era in March with the members of Essex County, which takes over Northey-Shaw’s popular Country Sway Facebook page on Sundays.
The contest takes its cues from “Nashville Star” and “American Idol;” one of the judges is Jeff Boggs, who was an executive producer on the short-lived “Nashville Star” where the country got its first glimpse of Miranda Lambert and Chris Young.
“There was so many entries and top notch talent,” Northey-Shaw said of the dozens and dozens of entries that the judges pared down to 12 finalists on Sunday. “What’s interesting about it is everybody is so unique and they all have these incredible pitch-perfect voices. Every voice was unique.”
Northey-Shaw said the original idea was to have 10 finalists, but the talent was so impressive the judges decided on 12.
The finalists moving on to the final stage of the contest are: Brandon Green of Lucedale, Mississippi; Connor Myers of Garwood, New Jersey; the Dixie Jade duo from Northern California/Nashville; Hunter Cook of Franklin, Pennsylvania; Jessica Lynn of New York City; Jessica Meuse of Slapout, Alabama; Kat and Alex of Miami, Forida; Mark Sucoloski of Baltimore, Maryland; Sam Hatmaker of Knoxville, Tennessee; Sarah Ryder of Lititz, Pennsylvania; Stephen Paul of West Monroe, Louisiana, and Warren Garrett of Seneca, South Carolina.
Over the next couple weeks, through May 31, the finalists will perform live-streamed concerts that will be judged for voice, presentation, originality, song choices, fan interaction and reaction. Judging will take place through June 6 and the winner will be announced on #SundaysSway with Essex County at 2 p.m. June 7 at facebook.com/CountrySway.
In addition to Northey-Shaw, McCoy, Cowboy Troy and Boggs, judges are Essex County, comedian/actor Chad Prather, Radio Disney/Radio Disney Country music programming director Kris Daniels, New York’s Country 94.7 personality Kelly Ford, vice president of programming and artist relations for The Country Network Cary Rolfe and AMG’s Cindy Watts.
Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4642. On Twitter @Starburch
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May's Tucson-area coronavirus coverage: Cases rise, judge rules that state can keep nursing home data from public
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