YAHOO! MUSIC AND USA NETWORK UNITE TO DISCOVER AMERICA'S NEXT COUNTRY MUSIC SENSATION

Yahoo! Music, the #1 Music Destination on the Web, Exclusive Online Partner For Third Season Of Much Heralded Nationwide Nashville Star Talent Search

SANTA MONICA, CA, February 18, 2005 - Yahoo! Music and USA Network have joined forces for the third season of Nashville Star, a nationwide talent search looking for the next big country star. Beginning today, Yahoo! Music will host the exclusive Nashville Star site where the viewing audience can cast their votes for their favorite contestant immediately after each episode, beginning with the March 1 premiere and leading up to the finale on April 26. The co-branded microsite will feature a behind-the-scenes look at the Nashville Star contestants, exclusive clips and each week's footage of contestants and some of the biggest country names including Montgomery Gentry, The Charlie Daniels Band, Sara Evans, and Big and Rich featuring Cowboy Troy.

Premiering March 1 at 10 p.m. EST/PST, 9 p.m. Central, Nashville Star kicks off the first show with a performance by country music sensation and host, LeAnn Rimes. The competition will be judged by high profile personalities in the music business, including former Poison front man Bret Michaels, country music singer/songwriter Phil Vassar and country talent manager Anastasia Brown.

"We are excited to help pick the next Nashville Star as this is an extension of our continued commitment to support up-and-coming artists," said Jay Frank, head of programming and label relations for Yahoo! Music. "It is our hope that with the extensive reach of Yahoo! Music we will help Nashville Star and its contestants gain incredible exposure and a forum to reach new and existing fans."

"Teaming up with Yahoo! Music is a clear advantage for USA," said Chris McCumber, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Brand Strategy for USA Network. "It allows us to extend the Nashville Star brand across Yahoo!'s massive user base."

"Every one of the finalists could easily be winners this year," said Jeff Wachtel, Executive Vice President of Original Programming for USA Network. "Yahoo has streamlined the voting process but the talent is so phenomenal that picking a winner is going to be a real challenge for the audience."

Fans logging on to Yahoo! Music will also have a chance to get to know the recently announced finalists competing for the title:

  • Justin David, 30, from Marshfield, MO. David learned to play mandolin at the age of four, and he wields the fiddle and guitar with the same virtuosity.
  • Jody Evans, 28, from Donaldson, AR. Evans is a police officer by day, rockabilly singer by night. He grew up on the music of Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly.
  • Jenny Farrell, 35, from Albuquerque, NM. Farrell is a singer/songwriter who toured with Mustang Sally in the late '90s, opening shows for country artists including George Jones.
  • Erika Jo Heriges, 18, from Angleton, TX. This high school senior has been performing with bands for over thirteen years.
  • Christy McDonald, 29, from Tabor City, NC. By day, McDonald is the receptionist at the Warner Bros. Nashville office. In her off time she is a performer, demo singer and songwriter.
  • Jason Meadows, 33, from Calera, OK. Meadows grew up on a farm in Calera, and his music reflects the traditional influences of Merle Haggard, George Strait and Hank Williams, Jr.
  • Josh Owen, 19, from Brownsboro, TX. This guitar slinger has been singing since he was three. He has performed on the "The Arsenio Hall Show," "The Maury Povich Show" and "Star Search," where he was a finalist at age five.
  • Casey Simpson, 19, from Cerritos, CA. Simpson recorded a song for the 2002 "Rugrats" Christmas movie, as the voice of the wooden grandma. She performs throughout southern California and often sings the National Anthem at the Staples Center before Lakers, Kings and Sparks games.
  • Tamika Tyler, 33, from Coffs Harbour, Australia. Tyler had a successful singing career in her native Australia before starting a family and moving to a Colorado ranch with her husband, a rocket scientist, and their son.
  • Jayron Weaver, 22, from Dallas, GA. Jayron began singing in church as a child, and he is currently serving as music minister at a local church. He also works full-time at a warehouse while attending college classes.

Yahoo! Music will profile each contestant, including interviews and clips from their weekly performances. The grand prize winner will be awarded a recording contract from Universal South Records.

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