CMT’s ‘Next Superstar’ Pays Tribute to the U.S. Troops in Latest Episode
In the latest episode of CMT's 'Next Superstar,' the six remaining contestants in the competition headed north to Fort Campbell, Ky. for a surprise that would change their lives forever. Matt Mason, Danielle Lauderdale, Courtney Cole, Steven Clawson, Wynn Varble and Andrea Pearson were moved to tears after spending time with the families and loved ones of the troops serving in Afghanistan, who have not stepped foot on U.S. soil in 12 months.
Each singer spent one-on-one time with different families and listened to their heart-felt stories while waiting for the plane to land, reuniting them with their spouse, significant other, sibling or parent for the first time in a year. The competitors then took their experiences and teamed up with some of Nashville's hottest songwriters to create an original tune inspired by the emotional moment. The following day, they performed those songs in front of the troops and their family, who rated their performance, song and talent to see who would continue on in the show.
Mason riled up the crowd with his patriotic-themed, 'Smoke You If We Have To,' which he co-wrote with Kendall Marvel. Mason received nothing but praise from the audience and judges following his performance, as they felt that he once again proved he was a star, as well as an amazingly talented songwriter. Pearson, who collaborated with Carolyn Dawn Johnson, penned the touching 'Keeper of the Stars,' inspired by a young child who was clutching a soldier doll with her daddy's picture where the face should be. The tune expressed so much emotion that it brought guest judge and veteran of the United States Army, Craig Morgan, to tears.
Varble took a light-hearted approach to his original song that he wrote with the help of Tim James, titled 'Thump You and the Camel You Rode in On.' Varble's song showed the accomplished songwriter's fun personality and gave a pleasant distraction to some of the heavier moments during the night's performances.
After teaming up with Keith Follese for her song, Lauderdale scrapped what they had written to create her own tune, which she felt better captured her emotions from the day before. 'He'll Come Back Again' was packed full of emotion, as it paid tribute to the wife and kids left at home while the husband and father fought for their freedom day in and day out.
Clawson captured one moment that stood out to him -- the impact of the first kiss from the soldiers and their loved ones when they were reunited. Clawson, along with Victoria Shaw, wrote 'Rescue Me,' which lacked the patriotic theme, but excelled in being a universal song with many meanings for the listener to interpret. Cole and Gary Burr's 'Glimpse of Heaven' started off a bit shaky, but the young singer ended her beautiful ballad strong, moving everybody with the heart of the song as it filled the room.
After tallying the votes, Andrea Pearson and Steven Clawson both found themselves in the bottom two for the first time in the competition. Clawson delivered a smooth performance of 'By the Time I Get to Phoenix' and Pearson gave 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' in the "sing to survive" portion of the night, but the final decision came down to Craig Morgan, producer Matt Serletic and hit songwriter Brett James. They all agreed it was the end of the journey for Pearson, which stunned her co-writer and longtime friend, Carolyn Dawn Johnson. The two knew each other from Pearson starring in Johnson's Canadian music video for 'The Whole Thing.'
"I was in shock when she didn't win," Johnson tells Taste of Country. "She is so talented when you hear her sing. It was really weird because I do think she is a superstar. She is a fantastic singer, and I am proud of what she did do on the show."
Tune into CMT next Friday for a brand new episode of 'Next Superstar,' which airs at 9:00PM ET. Click here to read our exclusive interview with Matt Mason about the competition thus far and his thoughts on whether or not he has what it takes to be the 'Next Superstar' winner.
Watch Andrea Pearson in Carolyn Dawn Johnson's 'The Whole Thing' Video