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Emerald Butler was one of six finalists who performed at Puckett's two weeks ago as part of the Nash Next talent contest.

Nashville is looking for its next big star and local country music station WGOT-FM 107.9 is one of several dozen Cumulus stations around the nation that has been running a contest to find him or her.

Twenty local artists have been competing over the last several weeks via online submissions and live performances. Six finalists were chosen this past weekend. They will perform Friday, Aug. 25, from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. at The Renaissance Center, 630 North Ave., in Rossville, Ga., for the opportunity to compete in September and October at the national level. Admission to Nash Next, Nash Icon Chattanooga Finals will be $10.

The six are Justin Long, Cotter Hill, Tyson Leamon, Hunter Girl, Backwater Still and Wade Tramell. Fans have been able to weigh in via social media, but now it's up to judges Cody McCarver, Chip Chapman, Keith and Jackie Harling.

According to program director Dodger at Nash Icon, the winner will be selected based not only on talent, but stage presence, professionalism and and the ability to connect with fans. The local winner will be guaranteed an opening spot during next year's Riverfront Nights series, and of course, advances to the national rounds, where the winner will get a record deal with Big Machine and airplay on participating stations.

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Barry Courter

* Social media posters this week were asking: "Where were you when you heard?"

The question referred to the moment in 1977 when it was announced that Elvis Presley had died. I remember very clearly and honestly I'm not very proud of my reaction, but it's the truth.

I was standing in front of our RCA TV, the one you had to use a pair of pliers to change the channel, in the den. When it was announced, I said out loud, "Good."

I was 13 and very much into The Beatles, Kiss and David Bowie. Elvis to me at the time was a cartoon character, a caricature of a performer. All I knew was the overweight Vegas performer in big gold belts and even bigger sideburns and gold-rimmed glasses.

His fans appeared to me to be the type that would like "Hee Haw," which I also at the time thought was about the worst thing in the world. I wanted nothing to do with country music and I blame "Hee Haw" for this. Like Elvis, it seemed to make a mockery of the music.

Again, I was 13 and smarter than every living soul on earth.

I got over it. I soon realized the greatness of The King, Buck Owens and the country stars they had on "Hee Haw" and that even when by myself, I wasn't the smartest guy in the room, much less the universe.

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.

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