Seeking Fame

Country Showdown returns
to find next singing star

First of three local
preliminary rounds is set for May 31

(May 2014) – The Country Showdown talent competition returns to Jefferson County, Ind., this summer, hosted locally for the fourth year in a row by the 95.3 WIKI FM radio station. Now in its 33rd year, the national event allows thousands of aspiring country singers to showcase their voices in cities across the nation. Radio stations host local sing-offs, followed by events at the state, regional and national levels. National finals are held at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn.

Jordan Bales

Photo provided

Louisville’s Jordan Bales,
the local winner in 2012, recently
released his band’s first album.

To decide who continues to the state competition, WIKI will play host to three preliminary contests and a final round, all to be held in Madison. The first preliminary is May 31 at the Flooring Gallery; the second is June 14 at Andersons’ Sales and Service, and the third June 28 at Chandler Chevrolet. All events begin at noon. Applications are available at the WIKI studio at 2604 Michigan Rd. as well as the performance venues. Contestants must turn in their applications at the WIKI studio with a $25 application fee by May 26, June 9 and June 23, respectively. The final competition is the evening of July 12 at the Jefferson County Fair Pavilion.
“Anyone can enter here in Madison,” said Kristin Clevenger, Certified Broad-cast Marketing Specialist at WIKI. “There’s no age limit. We’ve had 12-year-olds and people from Cincinnati and Louisville. It all depends how passionate you are.”
The Country Showdown grand prize winner will receive $100,000 in addition to national attention from record labels and famous musicians. At the local level, winners only receive the opportunity to go on to the state competition at the Indiana State Fair.
So far, no local winners have made it through state, but Clevenger said, “Many of our contestants have gone on to do bigger and better things.” One such participant is Jordan Bales of Louisville, Ky. After winning the local Country Showdown two years ago, he formed the six-member Jordan Bales Band and released the group’s first album, “Breathe in Deep,” on iTunes last Christmas. The album features the track “Don’t Try an’ Take My Guns Away,” also available as a single on the iTunes Store.
Whitney Campbell (née Hamilton), originally of Hanover, Ind., and David Campbell, originally of Seymour, Ind., won the local Country Showdown last year. Though she did not win at the state level, they have since married and continue their music careers as a singing duo, performing at venues such as bars and weddings. “We made this our career. Right now, we’re writing our own songs and planning an album,” Whitney said. The Campbells are set to perform May 16 at the Shoebox on the Hanover College campus.
Losing at the state level did not deter them from chasing their goals. Whitney said her voice’s country twang often kept her from a place on school choirs, an experience that prepared her for the future. “Anytime you try something out like that, it’s all learning experience and you grow somehow,” she said. “No matter how many times you get a no, it just means there’s someone else out there who believes in you.”
Though televised talent shows, such as “American Idol” and “The Voice,” popularized viewer voting to determine winners, Country Showdown maintains the traditional system of judges. Three judges with music backgrounds will evaluate the WIKI event contestants.
“Those judges aren’t affiliated with the station or sponsors,” said Clevenger. “They’re musically intelligent and know what they’re doing, and contestants can get feedback from judges after performing.” Contestants may also enter more than one preliminary to further their chance of the judges selecting them for the finals.
Clevenger said the Country Showdown has enjoyed a fantastic turnout in the past, noting that most stations host only one event compared to WIKI’s four. WIKI decided to relocate the final round from the Madison Regatta to the Jefferson County Fair-grounds this year, and Clevenger predicts even better attendance and plenty of eager participants.
But winning the Country Showdown requires more than just signing up. A good contestant, Clevenger said, has “talent, dedication, preparation and presentation. If somebody gets up on stage and acts like they’re scared to death, they won’t go very far. They have to perform well and not let their nerves get the best of them.”
She also mentioned that appearance is a factor, though not one that will make or break a contestant in the judges’ eyes. “We’ve had people dressed to the hilt, looking very confident, but then they lacked the talent and determination to put on a winning performance,” she said. “That’s the most important thing.”

• For more information, call WIKI Radio station at (812) 273-3139.

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