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Keeping It ‘Real Country’

Grammy-winning country music artist Travis Tritt will help judge USA Network’s new music competition series Real Country, premiering Tuesday, Nov. 13. The eight-part series, also featuring country music stars Shania Twain and Jake Owen as judges, will feature emerging solo artists, duos and groups in performance. Tritt recently spoke with Multichannel News about the series, country music’s popularity and his other television projects. Here are edited highlights.

MCN: What attracted you to the show?

Travis Tritt

Travis Tritt

Travis Tritt: The thing that excited me and attracted me about it was the fact that it is the only show of its kind that is devoted 100% toward country music. I do about 130-plus shows a year, so obviously I get a chance to see a lot of the local talent that opens at festivals and a lot of places that we play. I know that there was a tremendous amount of really great talent out there that had yet to be discovered outside of a local level. But the thing that excited me about the Real Country show was that Shania Twain, Jake Owen and myself are getting an opportunity to not only go out and find these artists, but give them a chance to live their dream by showing the world what they can do and by showcasing their talent in a very unique, special and widely viewed way.

MCN: There are other music competition shows in the marketplace. Do you feel that country music artists are overlooked or bypassed on those shows?

TT: Country music right now has never been bigger than it is at the moment and there’s obviously been a wide variety of different sounds that have come into the country music tent over the past 10 to 15 years. We’re giving all of those artists and all those sounds an opportunity to be to be heard and to be showcased.

Even though I love a lot of the current country music that’s out there, I’ve always been a big advocate of trying to bring back more of the traditional-sounding country music that I grew up on, both from a musical standpoint and also from a lyrical standpoint. Country music as a whole to me has always been — more so than any other type of genre — the type of music that speaks to people about their daily lives.

MCN: How will this show differ from others we’ve seen in the music competition genre?

TT: With most of the other shows of this nature, they take a portion of whatever the winner makes as they go forward. In other words, if they get a record deal, a publishing deal or a booking agent deal, the shows tend to take a portion of that away from the artists. The thing that Real Country does that’s different is that we don’t take anything away. Some of them will walk away with publishing deals, booking agency deals and maybe more. Who knows? But regardless of what they walk away with, we as part of the show Real Country will not take anything away from them.

MCN: What does USA Network bring to the table for the series?

TT: I think USA Network has always been a network that is great at storytelling, and there’s no other music genre that I can think of that is better at storytelling than country music. So it seems like it’s a perfect blend for the Real Country show to be on the USA Network.