|The cast of Lifetime TV's docu-series Chasing Nashville|
For Chasing Nashville season one, episode three, the young singers who placed in the finals of the Hillbilly Days vocal competition head to Nashville, Tennessee to work with producer Keith Thomas. Each of them has obstacles to overcome: Savannah Little's parents disagree about spending money on a coach; Helena Hunt doesn’t want a makeover; Autumn Blair isn’t keen on taking vocal lessons; Julia Knight and her mom Gina have to deal with momager Lana, who invites herself and her daughter Lauren Marie Presley to attend their private session at Thomas' studio.
Chasing Nashville S1, E3 starts with a birthday party for Savannah Little (age 14, “The Spoiled Starlet”), that Lauren Marie Presley (age 13, “The Outsider”) and her mom, Lana, were invited to without Savannah’s knowledge. Throughout the party, bratty Savannah stays on one side of the room – opening pricey gifts, hanging with her friends – while Lauren awkwardly sits alone on the other side of the room.
Eventually, Lana and Lauren have enough of feeling ostracized and head to friendlier territory: Julia Knight’s house, where she and her mom, Gina, are planning their trip to Nashville. Lana is barely in the door when she invites herself and her daughter on the trip. Gina does her best to hem-and-haw her way out of having the Presleys join them in Nashville, until daughter Julia also suggests that Lauren and Lana come along for the ride. Gina’s response is priceless: a classic face-palm. Later in the episode, Lana and Lauren interrupt the Knight's studio session with Thomas, and Lana insists that he listen to her daughter sing “Amazing Grace.” Lana actually says, "I’m not leaving until you hear her.” Lauren sings, and Lana gets an answer she doesn't want to hear: Thomas likes Lauren, but says that she needs a vocal coach and at least a year’s worth of seasoning. After Lana and Lauren exit, Thomas indicates that he found the moment off-putting, but Julia Knight has an easy-breezy attitude about it; it doesn't bother her at all. Julia sounds fantastic in the session, by the way - we look forward to hearing more from her.
Savannah finds that her road to Nashville is a rocky one. Robyn and Michael (Savannah's mother and father) bicker about the expense of vocal coaches. It seems Dad dotes on her with money and tokens of affection, but balks when it comes to the things mom wants Savannah to have for her career. In the end, Robyn calls the shots and they head to Nashville.
The journey to Nashville for Helena Hunt (age 17, “The Plain Jane”) isn’t strewn with money problems or awkward interlopers – her issue is Gwen, her mom. Helena is comfortable with who she is, but ever since Keith Thomas suggested that a makeover could change the game for Helena, Gwen has been obsessed with the idea of coloring her daughter’s hair and buying her flashier outfits. “If you don’t agree, we’re going to hogtie you,” jokes Gwen. “I do not have a sense of adventure, at least not in regard to my hair,” says Helena. The entire time that Helena is stuck in a salon chair with foils in her hair, she believes that her mom is putting black streaks in her hair, but it's really just blond highlights. “What an awful joke,” says Helena. Then, her mom brings her a strapless dress with a rhinestone belt to try on. “Why can’t I be successful as me?” she wonders. After the salon session, Helena visits her brother's gal, Courtney, who takes Helena to a roller derby team practice in order to boost her confidence. This bit is goofy in the scheme of things, but Helena seems to have fun.
Autumn Blair (age 17, “The Coal Miner’s Daughter”), does not have that much fun during this episode. When she and her father J. visit Keith Thomas’ studio, the producer ignores her original, highly personal ballad after he encouraged her to write songs (“Hear Me Now,” about her lousy relationship with her mom), but he says Autumn’s intonation and pitch is off, and he wants her to work with a vocal coach. Autumn is rattled by this news; even more so when she sits down with Thomas’ pal, coach Brett Manning, who wants her to make funny noises, and she walks out of the studio.
Autumn's response causes Thomas to worry that she has such a small comfort zone that she might not be able to handle the surprises that can happen to an artist. Thomas and Manning hatch a plan to test Autumn's adaptability AND Savannah’s vocal prowess by having them sing a duet at a karaoke event. The girls are asked to sing “Falling Slowly,” from the soundtrack to the film, Once. Autumn seems passive about her role in the song, so Savannah takes charge and decides who will sing which verse and when they’ll pair for harmonies. On stage though, it is Autumn who takes command of the lovely song that showcases her powerful voice at its most expressive. Thomas and Manning agree that Autumn won that round, leaving Savannah to gripe that she gave Autumn all the easy parts to sing, but she vows to amaze the judges next time.
Next week on Chasing Nashville season 1, episode 4 titled "Surprise Showdown," the aspiring country star must prove to producer Keith Thomas that they can write and sing their own tunes.
For all of our Chasing Nashville recaps click here.
Photo by Richard McLaren, courtesy of Lifetime
Chasing Nashville airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on Lifetime
Posted on Wednesday, November 6, 2013