Host Jewel and Executive Producers Ben Silverman and Howard Owens discuss the upcoming 5th season!

Entering it's 5th season we recently had the pleasure of sitting in on a conference call for the popular Nashville Star. On this show amateur singers compete for several weeks to see which one will be selected by viewers' votes as the next country music superstar. On hand to talk with us were host Jewel as well as executive producers Ben Silverman and Howard Owens.

Jewel, how did you get attached to this show?

Jewel: I've actually been a fan of Nashville Star, I've watched about every episode. Last year I asked if I could be guest judge, but I think everything was already set. This year we talked about what we might be able to do together, they talked about me being a judge initially. Once I realized the judges only have about 15 or 20 seconds to give any input to the contestants, we started talking about me being a host and being able to mentor them. To have two mentor sessions where they will come down to my ranch in Texas and I can spend some time with them.

I really identify with these kids. I was an 18 year old struggling to try and make into the music scene. If it was me on that show I really would want more than a 15 second chance to try and get everything straight and put my best foot forward.

Who has been a pivotal person like that for you in your career?

Jewel: It's really hard in today's music industry... as an all around artist to really come up. I think something Nashville Star does a really strong job at, most of these 22 contestants play one instrument... these aren't just people singing. They actually have a whole package which is unusual. I think that's one of the hardest things to promote... because people are looking for something kind of poppier and showier. For me, I didn't have a chance like Nashville Star... so it took about 300 million people. My label Atlantic was a great label for me. Other than that, I think it took the faith of an entire industry, an entire fanbase to help me shine through.

Had an opportunity like Nashville Star been around when you were coming up would you have done it?

Jewel: I'm not sure. The Real World was starting when I was coming up and they asked me to be on that. I was afraid because I didn't want to be known as the girl from The Real World. I think with the way these shows have gotten sophisticated and legitimate enough, I think an artist can be legitimate. I think Nashville Star is doing a job that labels aren't quite able to do right now. I think labels have gotten trapped into following breakouts... something that Nashville Star is helping with is helping an artist who's authentic, who's different, who may not have a trend, have a voice, because America can speak and say this is something we like.

Do you think with the popularity of American Idol, that Nashville Star is not getting the attention it deserves?

Ben Silverman: We always felt our show was created before Idol ever made it to air. We really wanted to do a show that was about quality first. Where "the talent was real" was a tagline that Howard and I had come up with in our first seasons. We're really looking at what country is about and I think that's what attracted Jewel to the show. It's really focused on an unbelievable talent mix. I think the show itself is a new kind of variety show. I absolutely would love more attention. There is excitement about it, I think you see that in our ratings, they grow every year.

Why do you feel this is going to be the best season yet?

Ben Silverman: The show continues to evolve and I think it will find a voice and unique elements. Obviously, we're so thrilled to have Jewel who just represents the class of the field, and has an unbelievable singer/song writing legacy. I think you're going to see a lot of surprises. Howard can address what's going on with the judges and some of the other elements we've introduced to the show this year.

Jewel, how will Cowboy Troy help you out with hosting?

Jewel: Troy's great. He's one of the nicest people I've ever met. He's a real pro. He's been really generous with me in helping me along as I learn, this is a total different formula than I am used to; reading off the teleprompter and doing a two hour show. I'm lucky to have him.

On these types of shows you usually have all different kinds of personalities, but the judges for this show are all nice folks. Can you talk about the personalities of the judges we'll see on the show?

Howard Owens: I think that Anastasia Brown, she is a former manager who has more of a business and marketing perspective in mind. In terms of what you need to act like and how you need to manage yourself, and how you need to grow not only as an artist, but as someone working in the business. And I think that Blake as a young country music star, and a guy who is currently in the system, can give some real advice as it relates to how to manage yourself, and how to evolve as an artist right now in the current country marketplace. I think that Randy is at the more older, wiser stage. A guy who when he speaks, everyone in the room listens. I really think we've got a great compliment across the board.

New episodes of Nashville Star will be premiering January 11 at 10pm ET on the USA Network.

Dont't forget to also check out: Nashville Star

Evan Jacobs