In the second episode of the week, the USA Network’s new reality series, Real Country, brought three new aspiring country stars to their Nashville stage, courtesy of Travis Tritt, Jake Owen, and Shania Twain.
As in previous episodes, the three contestants compete in a themed challenge in the first round. Voting is cast by the studio audience on a scale of one to five stars. In the second round, the top two contestants from round one perform another selection of their choosing that adheres to the same theme, and this time the studio audience gets a hand from a celebrity judge. This week’s judge — Kane Brown, and this night’s competitors were all female performing songs of faith and inspiration.
First on the stage was Travis’ pick, Austin, Texas resident Bri Bagwell. The country legend introduced her saying, “This girl is the next big thing to come out of the state of Texas.” Picking a song by another “big thing” to come out of Texas, Bri covered Miranda Lambert’s “Heart Like Mine” for her first selection.
“She is what the future of country music should be,” Travis told the audience following her performance. “There’s two kinds of shame. There’s shame and there’s a crying shame. It would be a crying shame if this girl did not advance to get to play you a second song tonight.”
After the audience votes were tabulated, Bri earned a whopping 4 stars.
Next up was Jake’s pick for the night’s competition, Regan Stewart of Auburn, Alabama. Before she sang “My Church” by Maren Morris, Jake told Regan, “What I really love about you is you have this quiet beauty about you. Your voice when you sing is so traditional, but I also love the way you’re pushing the boundaries of country music with the song choices that you’re doing.”
Afterward, Travis told the admittedly bashful girl, “If there’s any tentativeness in your presentation, let me just tell you, dear, you have absolutely nothing to be tentative about. You have no reason whatsoever to be shy about expressing yourself.”
With the voting closed, Regan earned 3.6 stars.
The final performer in the first round was Gardendale, Alabama’s Tiera. Shania explained her pick to the audience saying, “When I first heard Tiera, it was like an angel was singing. There’s a few singers, a very few, that have this angelic way of singing and you’re one of those special few.” And she demonstrated that ethereal vocal with her song selection—Rascal Flatts’ “Bless the Broken Road.”
“We can’t live without hearing another song from Tiera,” Shania told the studio audience. “We’re singing tonight about faith and inspiration, you’re all the faith and inspiration I need. Honestly, you are so awesome.”
The fans spoke, and with Bri and Reagan joining Tiera on stage, we learned that Shania’s pick received 4.6 stars moving her to the final round with Bri.
Before the competition started again, host Graham Bunn asked celebrity judge Kane Brown what it felt like knowing he was inspiring a new generation of artists. “I didn’t know I was doing that,” the humble country star answered. “This is a dream come true. I came from a hard background, and I never thought that I would be sitting up here with Shania Twain, Jake Owen, or Travis Tritt. So, it means the world to me.”
For her second number, Bri confidently sang the Willie Nelson and Ray Charles duet, “Seven Spanish Angels.”
When Kane had the opportunity to speak to Bri, he first complimented her angelic white outfit with fringe for wings. “First off, you look like a star. I love the get-up,” he said. He then added, “For singing somebody else’s song, it didn’t sound like a karaoke song. You made it your own, and that’s the most important thing. I think you did awesome and I think you sound amazing.”
Tiera had her second turn at the microphone, before Bri’s score was revealed. Working the stage like a pro, she picked “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus for her final song.
Following the performance, Kane told her, “First of all, I love your little sweet Alabama voice. Your voice is amazing. If I was listening, I wouldn’t picture you. I’m the same way. Everybody thought I was a rapper. Anyway, I think you did awesome. I love your control.”
After Tiera’s scores were added up, Bri returned to the stage to learn who would win the $10,000 prize, plus a performance slot on Stagecoach Music Festival in California, and a spot in the finale.
On pins and needles, Tiera earned 4.3 stars and Bri received 4.1 stars meaning Tiera would move on to the finale.
Congratulations to all of the very deserving contestants.