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Texaco Country Showdown Finalist Talks About Music, Competition

Santa Clarita’s country music showdown competition hosted by KHTS AM-1220 could produce an unheard-of second consecutive Texaco Country Showdown winner January in Nashville.


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Suzanne Harper interviews with KHTS AM-1220 before Concerts in the Park performance in Santa Clarita

Suzanne Harper, 31, who sings with a band made of her friends and family, said it took her “a good 10 minutes” for it to sink in when she won the KHTS AM-1220-sponsored Santa Clarita competition, one of hundreds of contests around the country.

After winning the local contest, Harper won at the Knott’s Berry Farm California State Finals, and then a regional battle, which was hosted Saturday in Florence, Ore.

With Harper and her band’s Oregon win, they’re now headed to the Texaco Country Showdown in Nashville to compete on national television in the nation’s largest country music talent search.

Poor Man’s Poison won the local contest last year, and after performing at Concerts in the Park last summer, went on to win the showdown, and the accompanying $100,000 grand prize.

Poor Man’s Poison returned this summer to Santa Clarita as a headliner for the Concerts series.

For Harper, who’s sang in various bands since 1999, the journey from a director of her local church’s music to aspiring professional artist has been one that’s really taken shape of the last two years.  

“I joined my first band in 1999, and I’m still playing with a couple of the same guys, which is kind of cool -- I married one of them, actually,” she said with a laugh.

Suzanne and Ross Harper share a home in Escondido with their two daughters, Georgia, 5, and Evangeline, 3, and work collaboratively on their music with the band.

Ross Harper, 29, “plays everything,” according to Suzanne Harper, including banjo, mandolin, harmonica, saxophone, drums and even a custom-made guitar that was fashioned out of a cigar box.

“I’ll come with an idea, and he’ll make it better,” Harper said. “I wouldn’t be anywhere where I am without him.”

Ross Harper’s brother Evan plays drums for the group, which used to perform under the name Talk Like June.

The evolution of Suzanne Harper from the band Talk Like June came gradually, after the band won a competition that afforded them a chance to open for Sugarland in San Diego in front of more than 10,000 people.

“And then we all went, ‘I could actually do this,’” she said, describing her band mates as “extremely supportive:” of the move.

“And in some ways it became real, and most of it is because I just love performing,” she said.

Harper still identifies with her country roots, having grown up in a rural part of San Diego, where she cultivated a sound she described as “California country.”

Her songwriting has evolved from the sounds of a 20-year-old writing about self-discovery, to the more confident, having-fun artist heard today, she said.

In the Texaco Country Showdown’s 32-year history, it’s helped develop the careers of country music stars, such as Garth Brooks, Sara Evans and Brad Paisley, and countless others.

Tim McGraw, Toby Keith and Carrie Underwood are three famous country music stars who competed but did not win in the Texaco Country Showdown.


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Texaco Country Showdown Finalist Talks About Music, Competition


Article: Texaco Country Showdown Finalist Talks About Music, Competition
Source: Santa Clarita News
Author: Perry Smith