Thea Andrews hosts CMT's NEXT SUPERSTAR premiering Friday, 4/8



Beginning Friday, April 8, the search is on for CMT's Next Superstar as five men and five women vie for the title in CMT's latest competition series, premiering this Friday at 9 p.m (EDT/PDT).

Hosted by Thea Andrews (Top Chef Canada, ESPN, Entertainment Tonight), in each episode of the ten episode series, CMT will search to find America's next great country star and will open the door for undiscovered singer/songwriters who think they have what it takes to make it in the country music industry.

According to a CMT spokesperson, the show "will allow the world to see every triumph and every set-back unfold weekly as each contestant will compete while living together in a house in Nashville, providing a rare and revealing inside look at the all ensuing drama that can take place when musical adversaries live and compete together."

Contestants on CMT's Next Superstar will try to impress celebrity guests each week through a series of music business-related 'challenges' and grueling performance rounds. Each week, one finalist will be eliminated and America will have the final vote to determine who will be crowned CMT's Next Superstar.

The finalists include:


Bri Bagwell, 23, grew up on a large farm in Las Cruces, New Mexico, with older twin brothers. Throughout her childhhod, she performed alongside her musician brothers as part of the trio Bri Bagwell and The Band of Brothers in a specially-built music studio on the side of their farmhouse. Her musical influences include Miranda Lambert, Patty Griffin and Johnny Cash.


Adrienne Beasley, 22, got her musical break at the age of three in her hometown of Wickliffe, Kentucky, when she sang "Jesus Loves Me" at her church. After appearing on American Idol earlier this eyar, Adrienne decided to try her luck on CMT's Next Superstar, in hope that her unique voice and yodeling capabilities will bring her the stardom of which she's been dreaming.


Steven Clawson, 29, grew up in Thomasville, Georgia, playing guitar and singing along to Garth Brooks. He decided to pursue his dreams and love for music by moving to Nashville with his wife, whom he met in first grade. Steven also has a passion for songwriting, which has developed from being an avid reader.


Courtney Cole, 24, moved to Nashville from her hometown of Mandeville, Louisiana, where she started performing in musical theater at age 11. When she isn't playing with her puppy Ellie, Courtney is in the studio working to perfect her voice and musical talents.


Matt Dame, 37, moved to Hermitage, Tennessee, from his hometown of Batesville, Arkansas, a small town of 8,000 people. A police officer for seven years, Matt would play guitar and sing for his roommates but he discovered he could make a career of it when a songwriter wanted to use his voice for demo tapes.


Danielle Lauderdale, 23, grew up in Orange Park, Florida, and now lives in Nashville. At age 10, Danielle became the youngest child ever to perform at the Grand Ole Opry and was also a featured guest on a "World's Most Talented Kids episode of Maury. Her musical influences include Faith Hill, Lee Brice, John Mayer and Miranda Lambert.


Matt Mason, 25, moved to Nashville from his hometown of Fairland, Indiana, where he started singing and playing guitar in church at age 11. He has since taught himself how to play the bass and has even opened for the Charlie Daniels Band. His musical influences ranged from Bruce Springsteen to Waylon Jennings.


Andrea Pearson, 29, grew up in Kelowna, British Columbia, and now lives in Nashville. She is a musician and when she isn't painting, drawing or writing songs in the studio, Andrea works as an animal rights advocate, spending time at the Nashville Human Association finding homes for abandoned animals.


Ben Smith, 29, grew up working on a farm in Gainesville, Texas, and currently resides in Denton, Texas, as an arborist. When he isn't running his tree-trimming business, he sings, writes songs and plays the guitar, harmonica, piano and the ukulele. Ben's musical influences include Creedence Clearwater Revival, Johnny Cash and his grandfather.


Wynn Varble, 50, has been singing and playing music for over 30 years after being introduced to country music early on by his father. He was born in Georgia, moved to Texas, and now lives in Hampshire, Tennessee. While in Texas, Wynn played shows in Austin and once showed up at Willie Nelson's house in hopes of a performing for him.

For further details about CMT's Next Superstar, visit the website at

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Jeffrey Ellis Jeffrey Ellis is a Nashville-based writer, editor and critic, who's been covering the performing arts in Tennessee for more than 25 years. He is the recipient of the Tennessee Theatre Association's Distinguished Service Award for his coverage of theatre in the Volunteer State and was the founding editor/publisher of Stages, the Tennessee Onstage Monthly. He is a past fellow of the National Critics Institute at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center and is the founder/executive producer of The First Night Honors, held during Labor Day Weekend, which honor oustanding theater artists in Tennessee in recognition of their lifetime achievements and includes The First Night Star Awards and the Most Promising Actors. Midwinter's First Night, held the first Sunday in January after New Year's Day, honors outstanding productions and performances throughout the state. Further, Ellis directed the Nashville premiere of La Cage Aux Folles, The Last Night of Ballyhoo and An American Daughter, as well as award-winning productions of Damn Yankees, Company, Gypsy and The Rocky Horror Show, with Ellis honored by The Tennessean as best director of a musical for both Company and Rocky Horror.

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