After seven episodes of the new USA Network reality series Real Country the excitement came to a head with the winners from each episode competing for a grand prize of $100,000 and a performance on the Grand Ole Opry.
With their mentors—Shania Twain, Jake Owen, and Travis Tritt—cheering them on, each contestant sang for the in-studio audience who gave each artist a rating of one to five stars. During the regular season, each competitor performed a song that fit with a specific theme assigned for that night. But with the finale, they changed things up, letting the the acts choose a tune of their choice.
The fun kicked off, though, with Jake opening up the show with his newest single, “Down to the Honkytonk.”
The first contestant to perform in the finale was also the most recent winner and one of Jake’s recruits. Singer-songwriter Jamie Floyd took the stage to put her own unique swampy spin on Trisha Yearwood’s “Wrong Side of Memphis.”
Following her performance, Jake told Jamie that she set the bar for the night. He also said, “Jamie, you are the perfect example of why, I think, the three of us wanted to do this show. It’s about taking talent that needs to be discovered to the world.”
After the fans voted, Jamie was awarded 3.9 stars.
Travis told the trio, “In a time where so many things tend to sound the same, I could pick those guys off the radio in about two seconds. I think they deserve an opportunity to advance in this competition.”
The audience cast their votes and Copper Chief received 4.0 stars, moving them to first place.
Shania’s pick of Kylie Frey was up next and the young cowgirl delivered a tender and emotional cover of “There Is No Arizona” by Jamie O’Neal.
Afterward, Shania told the singer, “I love this expression on your face! And this emotion is a whole other spectrum of who you are. And I really appreciated the heart that you put into that.” She also told the voters that they were voting for the “power of this woman’s voice and the future of real country.”
With the voting completed, Kylie earned 3.3 stars, leaving Copper Chief in the lead.
Former police officer Frank Ray took the stage next as one of Jakes picks. Tearfully dedicating his performance to his fiancée, Frank sang the favorite Keith Whitley ballad, “When You Say Nothing At All.”
“What I see in you is you haven’t been afraid to take chances,” Jake told him after. “I think that’s been your whole story. I couldn’t be happier for you and your performance.” He also added, “I don’t think we’re here to find the perfect singer or the perfect entertainer. It’s about finding someone that believe in that can carry the torch for country music going forward and can pave the way for those behind you. And I think you’re doing a great job doing that.”
The fans awarded Frank 3.7 stars, and Copper Chief continued their reign.
Horsewoman Jaida Dreyer, another of Jake’s picks, was up next. The raven-haired beauty chose to perform her own tune, the tongue-in-cheek “Jack It to Jesus,” inspired by a comment Loretta Lynn made to her hair stylist: “Jack it to Jesus and spray it to hell.”
Before the fans voted, Jake told them, “I’d love to one more time remind you guys that it’s very rare that you have someone as talented as Jaida standing before you, singing her heart out. We’ve all heard your songs on the radio that you’ve written for other people, but it’s about damn time we hear you singing your own songs on the radio.”
Jake spoke and the fans listened, giving Jaida 4.6 stars, bumping Copper Chief from first place and moving Jaida into the lead.
Next up, representing Shania, was young Tiera from Gardendale, Alabama. Before the young beauty sang her tender version of Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance,” she explained that her song choice was about taking chances. “There’s not a lot of African-Americans in country music, obviously, and I’m lucky enough to have people to look up to like Charley Pride and Darius Rucker. And I really hope that I’m an inspiration for other people who want to break the mold and break the stereotypes, and do what they love,” she said.
Shania offered some final comments on Tiera’s performance. “We have a superstar right here in front of us,” she said. “I want this young lady representing country music around the world.”
With voting in, Tiera received 3.7 stars, preserving Jaida’s spot in the lead.
Taking a little break from the competition, Travis hopped up on stage to perform one of his biggest hits, “I’m Gonna Be Somebody.”
Larry Fleet, the final of Jake’s picks was the last contestant to perform tonight and it meant that Jake had the only two singers left on the show.
Giving Lady Antebellum’s “You Look Good” a decidedly gritty texture, Larry incorporated horns and bluesy background vocalists for his performance.
Jake told him, “You just crushed it, man. You sang the hell out of it. And you looked good singing that song.”
Voting for one final time, the fans spoke and gave Larry 4.1 stars making Jaida Dreyer the winner of season one of Real Country.
In addition to receiving a check for $100,000, Jaida also landed a performance on the Grand Ole Opry and at next year’s Stagecoach Music Festival in California.