Over the last decade, budding country music standouts and future superstars have left their mark on reality TV singing competitions. Here are nine modern country artists who got their big break thanks to the highly engrossing medium!
In 2005, Kellie Pickler was just 19-years-old when she auditioned for Season 5 of American Idol. The North Carolina native sang Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone” and Martina McBride’s “A Broken Wing” during her time in front of judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson. She made it to the top 6, but was eliminated after her performance of “Unchained Melody.” Despite not winning her season, she has gone on to have a very healthy career in the limelight!
In 2004, Underwood auditioned for season four of American Idol in St. Louis, Missouri, singing Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” During the competition judge Simon Cowell commented that she would be one of the favorites to win the competition and later predicted that Underwood would not only win the competition, but she would also outsell all previous Idol winners. On May 25, 2005, Underwood was declared the season’s winner. Watch her get her inner rock star on…
Back in 2003, country music fans nationwide first met 19-year-old Miranda Lambert when she made her big debut on the first season of USA Network’s Nashville Star. Lambert finished in third place overall, behind winner Buddy Jewell and runner-up John Arthur Martinez. Watch her give a musical shoutout to her home state below!
The Texan appeared on the fifth season of Nashville Star in 2007, placing seventh overall. In 2012, Kacey released her debut single, “Merry Go ’Round,” which reached No. 10. Her major-label debut album, Same Trailer Different Park, hit number one. Check out Kacey in her early days below!
In March 2006, country music fans nationwide were first introduced to 20-year-old Chris Young when he appeared on the fourth season of the USA Network’s Nashville Star. The Tennessean ultimately won his season of the program, beating out Casey Rivers and Nicole Jamrose.
In 2011, the Georgia-born artist auditioned for American Idol Season 10 in Nashville, Tennessee at the tender age of 15. Watch the young starlet share her sweet story about her cousin Holly and impress judges Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez, and Randy Jackson with her take on Tim McGraw and Faith Hill’s “Like We Never Loved at All.” As fans can recall, Alaina was declared the runner-up and fellow country artist Scotty McCreery took the American Idol victory.
When 16-year-old Scotty McCreery auditioned in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for Season 10 of American Idol he went big, taking on country star Josh Turner’s “Your Man” and Travis Tritt‘s “Put Some Drive in Your Country.” Judges Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez, and Randy Jackson were quite floored by the young North Carolina native’s distinctive vocals. The crooner would later emerge as the winner of Season 10, beating out fellow country singer Lauren Alaina. He holds the distinction of being the series’ youngest male winner and second youngest winner overall, after Season 6 champion Jordin Sparks.
In 2012, RaeLynn auditioned for the second season of The Voice with “Hell on Heels” by Pistol Annies, Miranda Lambert’s group, and landed on Team Blake. For her last-chance performance, she sang “If I Die Young” by The Band Perry, but was eliminated in the quarterfinals.
At only 17-years-old Danielle won season four of NBC’s The Voice in 2013, becoming the youngest artist to come in first place until Sawyer Fredericks of season eight. Overall she had the most peak positions and most singles to reach the top 10 on iTunes during the season. Her debut studio album, Danielle Bradbery, was released on November 25, 2013 and featured the single “The Heart of Dixie.”
Be sure to share this list with other country fans and reality TV aficionados!