A: I’d been talking with the producers from the very beginning, before the show was even named. There were a lot of creative discussions on how to go about this. What is so different about the show, and what stimulated my interest, is that it is focused on the country-music genre. My passion is to shine the spotlight on how diverse the genre is.
Q: Having been a guest on “American Idol” several times, and now doing “Real Country,” how do you feel about being in a position to judge other talents?
A: What I like even more about what I’m doing here is that I’m not a judge. The fans are the judges. so I get to enjoy discovering the talent, introducing them to this incredible opportunity, and connecting the audience to the artists.
They come to this at much more of a developed stage than just plucking somebody out of their bedroom and trying to make them a star. They’re developing their own style, their own performance skills and their own songwriting skills, and they’re bringing something to the table that is already ready for a genuine music career. It’s more about talent scouting, really.
Q: Is this show something you would have wanted to participate in early in your own career, had it existed then?
A: Oh, I would have been so excited to be able to have an opportunity like this! It’s entirely about, “Come and be who you are,” and that is where I think the absence of the judging is very important.
You don’t want to have to try to fit into somebody else’s ideal of what you should be, and that happens a lot in the (music) industry, through labels and agents. I had to fight really hard to be myself, and that’s what this concept is all about. And what it’s going to nurture.
Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.