Barbara Mandrell Will Host Jan. 24 Talent Contest

Barbara Mandrell will make a rare Nashville appearance Jan. 24 when she hosts the final round of the Colgate Country Showdown at the Grand Ole Opry House.

Mandrell gave her final musical concert — billed as “The Last Dance” — on the same stage on Oct. 23, 1997. The Colgate show, which spotlights six regional finalists, will be taped for television and broadcast nationally via syndication throughout March and April.

Joining Mandrell on the program will be Monument Records’ Joe Diffie , who will also headline some of the Showdown’s major contests during 2002.

2002 marks the first year that Colgate-Palmolive is sponsor for the long-running national country music talent contest. For the past several years, the competition has been sponsored by the True Value hardware store chain. Winners are chosen at the local, state, regional and national levels.

“Many people helped me have a career in music,” Mandrell told in a written statement. “One of the greatest recording musicians, steel guitarist Lloyd Green, saw me perform in a club in Nashville and told several record producers to go see me. I signed with Billy Sherrill at Columbia Records thanks to Lloyd. When I tried to tell him how grateful and thankful I was, he said something so wise and important: ’Just help other newcomers during your career, and that’s how you say thank you.’

“The folks that bring you Colgate Country Showdown help talented new acts have a great opportunity to be seen. I’m happy to host their show at the Grand Ole Opry stage, and I know it will be a spectacular evening on Jan. 24.”

Contestants for the Jan. 24 final are Jenny Pauette, Kennebunkport, Maine; Against the Grain, Wichita, Kan.; Deanna Freeman, Herrin, Ill.; Joe Taucher, Santa Clara, Calif.; Lauren Allen, LaPorte, Texas; and Jennifer Horne, Jacksonville, Fla. The winner will receive $50,000 and the title “Best New Country Music Artist.”

According to a spokesman for Special Promotions, Inc., which organizes and promotes the Showdown for its sponsors, the 2001 talent sweep involved thousands of acts competing in more than 400 separate shows.

The Jan. 24 taping, which starts at 7 p. m., is open to the public. General admission tickets are $15 each, although Kroger and other Nashville area retailers are providing free admission. Information on complimentary tickets is available from Special Promotions, Inc. at 615-321-5130.

Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to