Travis Tritt, Jake Owen and Shania Twain on Real Country. (CJ Hicks/USA Network)
It’s about to get real for country music stars Shania Twain, Travis Trittand Jake Owen—the three-person superstar panel at the helm of the new USA Network showcase, Real Country—as they prepare for the show’s debut on November 13 at 10 p.m. ET.
The eight-part series, which is hosted by Graham Bunn, most recently from Southern California’s Go Country 105, features solo artists, duos and groups, all previously hand-selected by the panel, performing and interpreting different styles of country music. After the performances, the artist hopefuls get feedback from the panel—and from some big-name surprise celebrity guests including Trace Adkins, Wynonna Judd, Big & Rich and Willie Nelson in upcoming episodes—as they compete for the chance to perform in the show’s two-hour grand finale, which could very well change their lives.
“What I really relate to is that big break moment,” says Twain. “That feeling never gets old. I think our role is to put [the artists] at ease and to remind them we’ve all been there and we’re still there. You’ve never fully arrived.”
According to Travis Tritt, the show is indeed a path to a possible big, big break.
“We’re giving these young artists an opportunity to showcase themselves in front of, not only a live audience in Nashville, but also across a wide television audience,” he says. “I never had that opportunity. This is going to give them a chance to present their music exactly the way they feel it. And the cool thing about this show is, none of us, not a single artist, not a single panelist on this show, is asking any artist to change anything about themselves.”
The panelists agree that their role is to encourage the competing artists to be true to themselves and not water down what makes them unique. But as Jake Owen points out, there is still room for honest feedback and to share some of the lessons they’ve learned along the way.
“As artists, we have a huge responsibility when we walk onstage,” says Owen. “What we say and do matters. So to be on this show, looking at these artists after they perform, what we say to these artists matters to them. It might not always be what they want to hear but I’ll be honest.”
Besides turning the spotlight on what might become the next big thing, Real Country, is a place where fans of country music can tune in to hear the music they love being celebrated.
“If there was one goal that I had in mind for this show, it was to try to bring back the focus to the kind of music that I grew up listening to and the kind of music that I grew up loving, which is traditional country music,” says Tritt. “I’m a history buff, especially when it comes to country music. I believe that, in order to know where you’re going, you have to know where you’ve been.”