|Autumn Blair, star of Chasing Nashville|
Previously on Chasing Nashville, aspiring country music stars Autumn Blair, Helena Hunt, Savannah Little and Lauren Marie Presley were preparing to perform for record label execs. Now, on Chasing Nashville season 1, episode 8 titled "Showtime", the moment has arrived for the girls to sing in producer Keith Thomas' label showcase. Unfortunately, Keith makes Savannah sit it out, but the other singers, including the fantastic Julia Knight, represent themselves extremely well. By episode's end, Helena gets a rock star makeover and Autumn gets a record deal.
Savannah Little, age 15, and Robyn (her mom) are back at Keith's studio in Nashville, and singer Tyra Madison Short and her mom Katrina are with them. Keith says, "I'm on the fence about having Savannah perform for the showcase. She has a lot of charisma and she's exciting on stage, but I want to find out if her voice is maturing." Savannah sings her original song for Keith, and he compliments her voice and personality, but also says, "when I hear you sing, I'm missing that believability," and says he can't put her on the showcase because of that. He does, however, invite her to come and watch the other girls sing (ouch!). Savannah is upset, but refuses to let Keith see her cry.
Helena Hunt, age 17, is still home in Clyde, North Carolina. Helena and Tracey (her stepfather) hang out in a pasture and do some "pickin'" on their banjos, and she tells him she's having second thoughts about pursuing a career in the music business. Tracey counsels her, "Don't go through the rest of your life wondering 'what if'", and it reminds Helena that getting a record deal in Nashville would be the best thing she could ask for because music is her life. "Tracey is giving me the courage that I needed to follow my dreams. I've decided to go for it. I have decided to go to Nashville."
Helena, Julia Knight, age 16, and Autumn Blair, age 18 (17 during filming), arrive at Keith's studio. Autumn is surprised to see that Lauren Marie, age 13, is there; Helena says, "Oh crap" when she sees Julia because she's tough to beat; Lauren Marie is glad to see Julia because she admires her talent. When Helena asks, "Where's Savannah?", Keith informs them that she's not in the showcase. Helena doesn't think it's fair that Lauren Marie is there because she wasn't one of the original four invited to Nashville like Savannah was.
The girls go to Loud Recording for rehearsals, and the first thing Keith does is tell Helena he doesn't want her to play the banjo, her signature instrument and security blanket. She gives it a shot, but is so awkward – she has no idea what to do with her hands – that Keith agrees she needs the banjo back. Julia's rehearsal goes very well, but Autumn has a rough time and is losing her voice.
Lauren Marie rehearses clutching a lyric sheet, and then tells Keith, "I'm not feeling it today," and that she has "morning voice." Keith chastises her, stating, "I don't think you're taking it seriously," and then he orders her to go take a break. Afterward, Keith says, "This could be too much pressure for Lauren Marie," and he considers pulling her from the showcase. Backstage, Lana hugs Lauren Marie while she cries. Lana is ready to go Mama Bear on Keith, but thankfully, she lets her daughter talk to Keith instead, and she gets to stay in the showcase.
Finally, it's the day of the showcase at Marathon Music Works where the girls will be singing for Jim Weatherson (Senior Vice President of 19 Entertainment), A&R guy Anthony Martini, and Cliff O'Sullivan (Sugar Hill Records).
Savannah arrives with her mom and takes a seat in the audience; I'm disappointed for her. Later, vocal coach Brett Manning tells her, "Don't think of it as that they said 'no' to you, they said 'yes' to someone else, and your 'yes' will come." I agree with him, Savannah's time will come.
The girls who are performing gather backstage, but Helena is missing, and Keith wonders of she changed her mind and "checked out" without telling him.
Then, they all get a surprise: the old Helena did check out, but a new Helena shows up with a sassy, short haircut and a rock star wardrobe, and she looks fabulous. Helena takes the stage to sing "Walk Away Clean", and she does a kick-ass job. Everyone is blown away by her talent and her new look, and Autumn says, "I think we all realize now that we need to step up our game, because Helena sure did."
As Lauren Marie is announced, she admits, "I'm a teensy weensy bit intimidated because I have the opportunity to sing for these record executives, but I wish I could remember the lyrics and showcase that I belong in this group of girls." Despite her issues in rehearsal, Lauren Marie doesn't forget the lyrics, and she makes a strong showing with "Big Enough to Dream." I'm looking forward to seeing how her career progresses; I love Lauren Marie's voice.
Julia takes the stage and is her always-impressive, total-pro self, then Autumn sings "I'll be the DJ" (the song Keith gave her in episode 4), and she sounds and looks wonderful too.
After the show, the girls and their families mingle backstage, then Keith tells Autumn he wants to introduce her to Jim Weatherson. As the record exec compliments her, Autumn tells the camera she's "so shocked and happy, that I'm like, frozen and I don't hear what he's saying." Then, when Weatherson tells Autumn he'd like to meet with her to discuss opportunities, she starts to cry and says, "I am just a girl from way back in the holler and a record label just approached me and oh, this is the greatest day of my life." Keith says, "It does not surprise me that someone wants to sign her," and J, (Autumn's dad) is proud and happy that Autumn is going to get to do something "that she would enjoy and cherish for the rest of her life."
Backstage, Helena tells her fellow performers, "We've all come away from this thing with something, like nobody lost. Everybody is a winner I think. I'm just really proud of everybody." Then they all hug.
As the show closes, we hear from each of the singers:
Helena: "I can't believe that I ever even thought about giving up at all, and I'm really glad I decided to go for this because music is my life and it's really what I want to do."
Lauren Marie: "I'm 13 and I don't know everything, but I do know I will work however hard it takes to make it as a country singer."
Savannah: "I want to step up my game, I wanna learn how to play with my guitar, and work with local coaches. It matters. I'll be back."
Autumn: "I'm really excited to see what my next step is. I just can't wait to see what the future holds for me."
For final episode of Chasing Nashville (season 1, episode 9) titled "The Road to Nashville," Keith Thomas takes viewers on a behind-the-scenes look at the show with unreleased footage and extended performance scenes.
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Chasing Nashville was pulled from Lifetime TV's lineup after four episodes, but the show is available through iTunes and VOD.
Photo by Richard McLaren, courtesy of Lifetime
Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013