With country music hopefuls routinely besting their pop-oriented rivals on singing competitions like The Voice and American Idol, it’s no wonder Lifetime has turned its cameras on young girls hoping that they’re next Carrie Underwood. Chasing Nashville, which premieres Tuesday at 10pm ET/PT, focuses on a group of Appalachia-based warblers as they navigate family pressures, teenage drama and self-doubt for a shot at working with some of Nashville’s top producing talent.
If the pilot is any indication, Chasing Nashville isn’t quite as over-the-top as the network’s Dance Moms — but with plenty of mama drama to spare — delving into the personal and budding professional lives of:
• Autumn Blair, 17, a coal miner’s daughter from Chloe, W.V., whom the show’s press release says is a distant relative of the original Coal Miner’s Daughter, Loretta Lynn.
• Lauren Marie Presley (you know, like Lisa Marie, only different), 14, a Pikeville, KY, transplant from Texas who loves to sing, but isn’t sure she wants to be a star — despite her Elvis-loving mother’s insistence that it’s in the Presley genes, whether she’s officially related to The King or not.
• Savannah Little, 14, a pampered Pikesville native with a fondness for red lipstick and gesticulating, a doting momager and a queen-bee attitude to match.
• Helena Hunt, 17, a lanky, multitalented earth muffin from Clyde, NC, who picks a banjo, lives in a log cabin and is just as content to cuddle lambs on the family farmstead as she is chasing fame.
Tuesday night’s premiere features the ladies vying for a Top 10 spot in the finals of the singing competition at Pikeville’s Hillbilly Days, a county-fair-style festival that raises funds for Lexington’s Shriner’s Children’s Hospital. It’s such a popular draw that Little compares the three-day event to Christmas. And the pressure to do well is further amplified when the girls discover that Grammy-winning Nashville producer and talent scout Keith Thomas is on the judging panel.
Either the internet’s been scrubbed free of any previous attempts at garnering fame other than a YouTube video here and there that could wobble the show’s integrity, or the girls are genuinely newcomers to the business. And whether it’s any sort of genuine representation of the hard-knocks road to music stardom remains to be seen.
But Hunt and Blair and their families are especially charming, and if the series keeps its primary focus on the girls’ journeys — however they may pan out — instead of petty squabbles amped up for the sake of the cameras (or mothers looking for their own 15 minutes of fame), it could make for some engaging TV.
Chasing Nashville airs Tuesday nights at 10/9CT on Lifetime.