"American Idol" runner-up Lauren Alaina will return to the Riverbend Festival as a performer, only this time the stage will be much bigger and the paycheck will be larger, too.
The Rossville, Ga., native first played the festival in 2008 as one of several young singers on the Times Free Press Children's Stage. She was paid $100, according to Joe "Dixie" Fuller, the festival's talent and production coordinator.
On June 16, she will close out the nine-day festival, headlining on the main Coca-Cola Stage on fireworks night, according to Fuller. Contracts forbid Fuller from revealing the amount she will be paid for her Riverbend performance, "but it is substantially more and indicative of how far she has come," he said.
Also added to the Riverbend 2012 lineup are Foghat on the Bud Light Stage on June 14, the Taylor Reed Band on the Tennessee Lottery Stage on June 16 and the Futurebirds on June 8, according to Fuller.
Fuller said he was on a panel that chose Lauren Alaina to play at Riverbend in 2008, and he helped produce her "American Idol" return home event at Coolidge Park last year.
"The first time I saw her was at one of the malls during the Kids Talent Search," Fuller said. "I voted for her.
"It has always been her dream to play Riverbend and this has been a dream year for her, so we wanted to make it happen."
Lauren Alaina, who is seemingly everywhere these days, has also been invited to go on her first official country music tour, joining fellow Georgia natives Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan on Aldean's "My Kinda Party" arena tour. It kicks off Jan. 20 in Greenville, S.C., and wraps up March 24 in East Rutherford, N.J.
"I am so excited to be a part of the Jason Aldean tour with Luke Bryan," Lauren said in a news release.
"I am a huge fan of both of them. I mean -- if I wasn't a part of the lineup, I would want to be in the front row. I am honored that my first major country tour will allow me to share the stage with two fellow Georgia artists. That is definitely my kind of party."
Her first album, "Wildflower," debuted in October at No. 2 on the Top Country Album chart and No. 5 on the Top 200 chart. Recently, she performed at the White House in front of President and Mrs. Obama as part of the PBS special "Country Music: In Performance at the White House." She was one of the artists on ABC's "CMA Country Christmas," and the "45th CMA Awards." She has appeared on "Good Morning America," "Live! With Kelly," "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," "E! News" and ET's "The Insider."
Foghat is perhaps best known for its megahit "Slow Ride." The Futurebirds are an Athens, Ga.-based rock band. The Taylor Reed Band is a local group that includes Karen Alayne, who was Lauren Alaina's vocal coach prior to the Idol shows.
Riverbend is scheduled for June 8-16. Previously announced acts are Eric Church and Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen.
Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...