We pick up this week’s Chasing Nashville where we left off — the first round of the Hillbilly Days singing competition is over and the next day’s finals are looming.
Nashville music exec Keith Thomas says he isn’t just there to hand out checks to the top three performers — he’s there to find talent to take back to Nashville for an upcoming showcase.
Savannah says she isn’t nervous about the outcome because she’s been here before and knows the drill. Helena says she’s just happy she made it, because she’s such a plain Jane compared to the other girls. The Presleys are handling Lauren’s flameout in decidedly different fashion. Lana wants to talk about it. Lauren Marie doesn’t want to talk at all.
Come finals day, Autumn’s throat is still hurting her something fierce, which worries her a little, so dad J. is armed with Chloraseptic and he’s not afraid to use it.
Even though she’s in no mood to deal with Savannah, Tyra and Celeste, Lauren Marie shows up anyway to support her pal Julia. Lana came too. She says she’s sacrificed too much for Lauren’s singing career to let Keith get away without realizing how truly talented she is, so she works her way through the crowd to the judges’ table and hands him a CD. Keith accepts it graciously, but says those sorts of interactions are always awkward.
Keith is also on Helena’s mom Gwen’s mind. She says she hopes her daughter can oomph up her stage presence, because it’s much more important for Helena to make a lasting impression on Keith than to take home the contest’s $500 prize.
When it’s time to compete, Savannah wishes she had picked something more upbeat than Lonestar’s “Amazed” to sing, but she’ll make the best of it.
Backstage, J. sprays an amused Autumn full of Chloraseptic, and Lauren tells Julia that Savannah needs to learn that it takes more than a fancy dress to be a star.
After her performance, Keith tells Savannah that she had some intonation issues but he still liked her performance. Julia’s up next.
Helena says she feels like Julia is her biggest competition because they both play instruments, but she might have an edge in that regard because of she plays banjo, too. Julia sings “Ring of Fire” in that sort of vowel-garbling style that’s so popular with the kids these days. It was good, but I’d rather have heard it regular. Autumn says she covets Julia’s ease on the stage.
Keith tells Julia he’s already a fan.
Autumn sings next, her throat issues making her sound slightly more wobbly than she did the night before. But she’s still a powerhouse. Savannah’s mom Robyn doesn’t care for her Shirley Temple curls. Keith says she was a little pitchy but sticks to his assessment from the night before that’s she’s a star in the making.
Helena, her hippie hat firmly on her head and banjo in hand, does “Wagon Wheel” by Bob Dylan (who wrote it), Old Crow Medicine Show (my favorite), or Darius Rucker depending on your point of reference. In contrast to her performance from the night before, this time the crowd claps along and a few folks even get up to dance.
J. worries that because we’re in heart of bluegrass country, Helena has just stolen the show. Lana looks a little confounded and says the girl and her banjo are a great surprise. Savannah says a hat with teeth on it is not really her thing.
Keith says laid-back Helena could have taken the performance to another level, but he’s still a fan.
When it’s time to announce the winners, Julia earns third place, a young lady named Marlena gets second and a jubilant Autumn wins it. Savannah worries that she blew a great opportunity.
Keith heads backstage and makes a beeline for Julia and invites her to come work with him in Nashville. Autumn is surprised that he approached Julia first, since Autumn won the competition, but it’s not long until he makes his way to her. He asks her if she writes her own songs, since that’s a big part of the package where he is concerned. She tells him she’s working on a few and as a proud J. strolls up to join them, Keith invites Autumn to Nashville, too.
Helena’s the next to get an invite to Music City, because Keith says he’s intrigued by her voice and her style, but he warns her that he wants to update her look. Helena negotiates to keep her boots and Keith agrees that those can stay.
Savannah’s the last to land an invite. Keith says he responds to her stage presence and wants to see if he can develop her voice to match it. Then he thanks the rest of the field for coming out and tells the girls who are coming to Nashville that the odds are only one will get a record deal.
Lana says that even though Lauren wasn’t invited to Nashville, she’s bound and determined to turn that around one way or another.
At Celeste’s house, which Savannah says is the one with the fewest rules, Savannah, Tyra and Celeste assess the competition — most specifically the fashion choices. They concede that Autumn and Helena are both talented, but the three of them actually look like singers.
Back home in Clyde, N.C., Gwen tells Helena that she has booked her to perform at a fundraiser, and Helena’s a little reluctant until Gwen tells her that a pair of handsome locals known as the The Ross Brothers will be appearing, too. Gwen tells her that she needs to take getting herself out there in front of people more seriously. Helena says she IS taking it seriously … just in a more relaxed way.
Back home in W. Va., Autumn is working on a song she wrote about her dad raising her alone when Grandma Mamaw shows up to have a listen. Then Autumn’s stepmom Pam appears with the phone. Autumn’s birth mom is on the line.
Autumn explains that after her parents split when she was about 4, she went the next 10 years without seeing her mom. Then, when the teenage years hit, she changed her mind and moved in with her, but it didn’t work out and now their relationship is strained. Today, Mom is calling about going out to lunch.
Back in Pikeville, Lana informs Lauren Marie that she gave Keith her CD and Lauren Marie is mortified. And it’s about to get worse. Lana follows that news up with the revelation that Robyn Little has invited the two of them to Savannah’s upcoming birthday celebration. Lauren Marie says no way is she going to fete her tormenter. Lana says its time to start fresh with the girls.
Back in Clyde, Helena goes for coffee with her pal Alex to ask for makeover assistance and discuss the competition and the upcoming fundraiser. Alex asks if she’s excited to see the Ross brothers, and Helena admits she’s crushing a little on Zeb. Helena admits she rarely dates and has never been kissed — “because I’m lame.”
Autumn says she’s trying to make the effort to improve things with her mom, and at lunch, she tells her the news from Hillbilly Days. Mom offers to go to Nashville with her if J. has to work, but Autumn says she wants Dad to go. Later, she hangs out with her boyfriend of three years, Matt, and the pair work on a beautiful song Autumn is writing with her mother in mind. It’s called “Hear Me Now.”
At Savannah’s house, Savannah sidles up to her dad Michael and asks for some cash so she, Tyra and Celeste can get their nails done for the party. Robyn says her husband is too focused on here-today-gone-tomorrow things, and tells Michael that what she really needs is voice lessons. Keith said so. Michael says he gives his girl money for fun things because he doesn’t get to see her very much, but voice lessons at a hundred bucks a pop is going overboard and asks Robyn not to make him the bad guy because of that opinion.
The fundraiser in Clyde isn’t very crowded, but Helena’s still happy to see the Ross boys. Gwen suggests that the kids do “Wagon Wheel” as a trio, and they’re happy to oblige, Helena doing some lovely work on harmony. Gwen says she hopes Keith will continue to push Helena beyond her comfort zone.
Speaking of which, she might have to get prepped for that first kiss, because Zeb just invited her to prom.
Next week on Chasing Nashville, Lana and Lauren Marie take an unannounced field trip to Keith’s office.
So what do you think, Chasing Nashville fans? Did the right ladies make it to Nashville? Does Lauren Marie deserve a second chance? Who’s your favorite so far? Tell us in the comments section below.
New episodes of Chasing Nashville premiere Tuesdays at 10/9CT on Lifetime.