ERIKA JO NAMED WINNER OF USA NETWORK'S NASHVILLE STAR 2005 DURING SEASON FINALE
First-Ever Female Winner Signed to Universal South Records
NASHVILLE, TN, April 26, 2005 - Over 10 million votes have been tabulated from all 50 states, and American television viewers have chosen 18-year-old high school senior Erika Jo as the third season winner of USA Network's Nashville Star. Erika Jo's winning moment came during the season finale that aired live from Nashville's BellSouth Acuff Theatre on USA Network this evening at 10PM/9C. Show host LeAnn Rimes made the big announcement that this year's Nashville Star race to the finish was tighter than ever, but Erika Jo edged out fellow finalists Jody Evans and Jason Meadows to win the Nashville Star title, a 2005 Chevy Silverado SS truck, an appearance on the Grand Ole Opry, and a recording contract with Universal South Records.
"Can you believe that just last weekend I was at my prom?!" enthused Nashville Star winner Erika Jo. "And now here I am with a record deal and an album to record in the next month. I'll barely be done in time for finals and graduation!"
Erika Jo, 18, from Mt. Juliet, Tenn. (just outside Nashville) was the youngest contestant ever to compete in Nashville Star, although she has been singing professionally with her father's band since she was a young child. The first female and the youngest winner of Nashville Star, Erika Jo won over the judges and the viewing audience with her soaring vocals and charismatic stage presence during performances of such varied material as "Here For The Party," "Broken Wing," and "Black Velvet."
Erika Jo's debut single, "I Break Things," written by Nashville hit tunesmiths Wade Kirby (George Strait, Gretchen Wilson, Kenny Rogers, Faith Hill) and Monty Criswell (Tanya Tucker, Gretchen Wilson, Trace Adkins, John Michael Montgomery), and performed during the finale, was made available for immediate radio airplay. Erika Jo's debut album will be released June 14, 2005 on Universal South Records.
Over 20 million viewers tuned into this season's Nashville Star, and each episode generated more than 1.2 million votes within the first 30 minutes of voting. This season's Nashville Star proved to be more controversial than ever, with discord arising from the judges' often brutal commentary to infighting among the contestants. The new panel of judges this year was made up of Poison front man and singer/songwriter Bret Michaels, country music singer/songwriter Phil Vassar, and industry executive/music supervisor Anastasia Brown. Country music comedian Cledus T. Judd was special correspondent for the show and supported show host LeAnn Rimes with color commentary. Also this season, Sara Evans filled in twice for Rimes, who was sidelined by a broken blood vessel in one of her vocal cords. After two weeks on complete voice rest, Rimes was back in full voice and returned to the Nashville Star stage to host this week's finale.
Local auditions for Nashville Star were held from October through December in 25 markets across the country. Of the thousands who auditioned locally, 100 contestants were selected to compete at the regional level, and 10 competed in Nashville in the season premiere. Throughout the season, the competition was whittled down by audience voting, as cameras captured the contestants' live performances and the behind-the-scenes drama and humor that developed as they lived and worked together in Nashville.