Peoria’s Most Talented New Country Artists Compete in First-Ever Contest to Guarantee Winning Artist Major Label Recording Contract and Opportunity for National Play on Cumulus, #1 for Country

  Local Semi-Finalist to be Named at Live Event and Will Advance to National Competition

  Event is Free to the Public at Limelight Eventplex

Peoria loves country music, and Cumulus Media, #1 for Country, is showcasing the area’s best new country artists in an exciting live challenge event, the NASH NEXT 2016, that is the next step to stardom for local country artists competing in Cumulus’ NASH Next 2016 national country music talent competition. NASH Next 2016 will be held at The Limelight Eventplex on Sunday, September 11th at 2pm. This event is free and open to the public. Everyone is encouraged to attend.

Featured Peoria area country artists will each perform two songs at NASH Next 2016. The WFYR judging team, comprised of local music industry professionals and a station listener, will select the area semi-finalist at the culmination of the live music competition.

Local artists entered the competition via the NASH Next website and to date, have been judged on two challenges, by local music industry professionals, as well as listeners in their communities. First asked to submit an original song, contestants then adapted a popular song, with a new style.

Local winners will move on to the national challenge, submitting a live performance video showcasing their best original song, with the top ten artists selected by top country music professionals. Those national finalists will then compete at a live concert event in Nashville, in late fall, where the NASH Next 2016 winner will be selected by a celebrity judging panel and one listener fan judge.

A total of 68 NASH/Cumulus stations in 60 markets, including Dallas, New York, Atlanta, Detroit and Nashville, have conducted extensive local talent searches for the past two months, with additional national participation made possible by Cumulus’ digital properties and syndicated country shows. 

The winner of this four-month-long national competition, announced by country legend Reba McEntire, will receive a record deal with Big Machine Label Group, home to such superstars as Taylor Swift and Tim McGraw, as well as substantial exposure, commensurate with a major label release, on Cumulus radio stations nationwide. While television boasts several talent competitions, no other contest  --
on any platform -- has ever offered its winners a similar opportunity for coveted
radio play, which is the most effective medium to cultivate an artist and propel a
major music career.

Finalists, and the 2016 winner, will be selected by a panel of country luminaries, including Scott Borchetta, founder, president and CEO of Big Machine Label Group, the world’s #1 independent record label, Kix Brooks, half of Brooks & Dunn, one of country music’s most successful duos of all time, Jay DeMarcus of chart-toppers Rascal Flatts, and Danielle Bradbery, joined by a Cumulus listener.

WFYR Program Director Shelly Knight said: “NASH Next 2016 creates an opportunity for country’s best new singer/songwriters to break into an ever-expanding format with a fast-growing and passionate fan base.  We are thrilled to showcase our area’s incredibly talented country musicians at this live challenge event and to select Peoria’s semi-finalist, who will advance to Nashville for the final portion of this one-of-a-kind national competition. We hope that country’s next superstar will come from Peoria and look forward to hearing some great new country music from the stellar talent here at what is sure to be a phenomenal show! Come on out and cheer on your favorite local country artists!”

In the last five years, country has supplanted pop as the #1 most popular music genre, with 97 million fans (MRI, Fall, 2015). This is due, in part, to the fact that country has been influenced by both pop and rock styles to gain mass appeal. 

“While it might not be the only place for listening and discovering, it (radio) is still the most important place. We couldn’t have the success that we have without country radio. There is no way,” Borchetta has said. 

“Internet, Twitter and everything else put together doesn’t equal what country radio does for us as artists, and as an industry,” Brooks has noted.

For more information, visit  WFYR or contact: Shelly Knight at or call 309-669-1243.


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