| By Kevin Wichman
The season finale of the third annual Nashville Star competition live Tuesdays on USA network has produced a new talent with a lifetime full of potential. Tennessee native Erika Jo Heriges was crowned the new champion on April 26, 2005 and looks to be a promising star given she is only 18 years old and currently a senior in high school!
Deemed “the underdog” of the final four contestants because she was a woman (the last two champions were male, the other remaining contestants were male) could of helped her with votes a bit but it was shear undeniable talent and performance ability that separated her from the top 3 after Jayron Weaver, a man with an extraordinary Rascall Flats type voice, was eliminated in the second to last show. The final episode came down to a 33 year old, traditional cowboy hat wearing George Straight influenced performer, Jason Meadows (“the cowboy”) vs. a twenty something rockabilly Elvis Presley version of country, Jodi Dorland (“the rocker”) vs. the little girl with the big voice, our new champion Erika Jo (“the underdog”). Erika Jo won a major label recording contract with Universal South Records and a new Chevy pick-up.
The final four contestants will be on tour this summer together in Nashville Star’s parade around the country giving more exposure to its talents and an opportunity for fans to see their favorite contestant live and in person. The entire cast of the 10 finalists can be heard singing on the Nashville Star 2005 album, in which each records a cover song from one of their favorite artists (an 11th track is also contributed by George Canyon). Erika Jo has an original single set to hit radio airwaves this week entitled “I Break Everything”.
While Erika Jo has now won the 2005 competition she is entitled to the honors and respect given to her by the heightened press and airplay attention, however, look to what happens on tour this summer to be a strong predictor of which of the final four talents will stand out from the rest in the long haul. Winning a competition like this seems to be analogous of winning the college championship or MVP award in sports, granting access to enter the pros where one will begin to play against long time established top talent.
Success is certainly not certain for Erika Jo as we have seen with last year’s forgotten winner Brad Cotter. I believe Erika Jo has more star power than him yet she will need a great single quickly to continue the buzz and make us believe she is capable of competing for the top of the charts. She will need to prove this as well to the top songwriters and producers who will be allowing her to record their songs (unless of course she begins to write her own). Erika Jo is certainly a likable and an extraordinary talent who is pretty enough to become crush worthy of younger males and an icon to younger girls. I can not wait to see her in a video that is sure to be a strong, energetic, and emotional performance.