It's the moment of truth for Real Country! After weeks of searching for the next big superstar in country music, USA's newest talent showcase is ready to reveal the big winner Tuesday night.
We caught up with Real Country celebrity panelist and music icon Travis Tritt in Nashville to talk about this week's finale, including what it takes to make it in this business. Here's what we learned!
USA Network: For the people who make it to the finale, what do you think pushes them though?
Travis Tritt: I think a lot of what makes these artists advance is confidence. That's one of the things that I love about this show -- the fact that we're not bringing in rookies; we're bringing in people who have worked on the road... some of them are doing 250+ shows a year on the road, doing bars, clubs, festivals, opening in fairs, or different things. I think that gives the artist a tremendous amount of experience to draw from, even though they may be "undiscovered" as far as the overall business is concerned.
To me, the ones who have really had an opportunity to do that many shows have built a confidence about them. You can see it. They exude it when they come onstage, and I think that carries them forward because they're able to deliver the song with a certain amount of authority and originality. They would not have any other way.
USA Network: What has been the most meaningful aspect of this experience for you?
Tritt: First of all, the thing that drew me to this was the fact that it is an opportunity to showcase talent at a time when country music is extremely popular. It has probably never been more popular than it is now. We're giving them an opportunity. I remember in my own career, 30 years ago, when I was first getting started in this business, how exciting it was to come to Nashville and be able to do a showcase. My showcase was in front of 500 people. We're giving these artists an opportunity to showcase in front of 500 people live in Nashville, but also to a huge television audience, which they would never have any other way. We're giving them a platform!
The other thing that I love about this show is that we're not asking any of these artists to be tied to any kind of contractual agreement once this show is over. Once they go as far as they can go -- if there are record label deals, if there are publishing deals, if there are booking agency deals that come as a result of this show -- we don't take any of that away from them, that's theirs. That's theirs as an artist.
USA Network: What's one piece of advice you received that you've carried with you throughout your career?
Tritt: I got so much great advice very early on from people like Johnny Cash, Willy Nelson, and so many others. One of the greatest pieces of advice that I had at a time when I was struggling to be independent and be different was from Charlie Daniels. Charlie Daniels said, "It's not how many times you get knocked down. It's how many times you get back up and stay in the fight." That was just the right amount of encouragement that I needed at just the right time in my career, and I've never forgot it.
Find out who will take the Real Country grand prize of $100,000 and a chance to perform at the Grand Ole Opry in the finale, this Tuesday night on USA!
Stream the full season of Real Country here.
*This interview has been edited for length and clarity.