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Best of the Best receives modern update, maintains roots

People always say ‘if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.’

But according to Best of the Best producer Christiana Sudano, a fresher, more modern update can’t hurt.

On Saturday starting at 7 p.m., the yearlong showcase series comes to a close when the Best of the Best showcase returns to the Curb Event center complete with a new logo, elaborate set pieces and a top-secret in-show surprise.

Planning for this year’s production began almost immediately following the announcement of the production team leaders last April. After months of work, the team decided to alter the tried-and-true method of solely honoring local music production companies for a more celebratory idea.

“The concept for this year is different than a lot of other year’s because it is the 10th anniversary for Mike Curb College, so we are kind of focusing around that,” said Sudano. “This year’s celebration kicks off the 10-year anniversary and next’s year’s Best of the Best kind of finishes it.”

Performers see the shift as a positive one.

“I think they are scaling it back and focusing more on the artists,” said showcase series veteran and Urban/Pop showcase winner Rayvon Owen. “A lot more focus on the artist will hopefully get the industry to bite on us.”

The show’s updated theme also includes the stage, Luke Bryan’s $50,000 jukebox set from the CMA Music Awards. It’s the most expensive set piece ever used by a showcase.

“Our marketing director actually works for CMA and she had a contact that gave us access to their warehouse,” Sudano said. “We honestly could have picked as much stuff as we wanted from the CMA Music Awards. … But we had to find a place to store it.”

For the performers, this set piece has caused some excitement.

“I haven’t seen it in person yet but I saw a video of him performing on it and I was like ‘Oh that is sick,’” Owen said. “I’m excited to be on a stage like that and don’t want to take it for granted. It’s a huge deal that I want to take full advantage of.”

Even with all the tweaks and updates, Sudano and her team are sure to maintain the original intention of the showcase series.

“The whole point of Best of the Best is for real action to be taken, said Sudano. “We want real progress to happen for the artists, and use the performances as the production staff’s resume.”

“It’s not just for artists. It’s for everyone involved to say they worked on this project.”

For Sudano, this production experience was a long time coming.

“I’m Nashville local and I went to best of the best for my first time when I was in the 11th grade. And I loved it. Thought it was the coolest thing and said ‘I want to do this,’’ she said. “It’s been kind of an interesting ride with Best of the Best because it’s been the show that I’ve pretty much focused on since joining the showcase series.”

To her knowledge, Sudano, a mass communications major, is the first female non-Mike Curb College major to the Best of the Best showcase and possibly is the first producer ever to come from outside of Mike Curb College.

That same long standing interest has continued to push Owen to performing in multiple showcases including singing backup for the Christian showcase winner his freshman year, performing solo in the Christian showcase last year and winning Urban/Pop this year.

“It all kind of affirmed what I want to do,” he said. “While I’ve enjoyed the other showcases, this is kind of one of the biggest milestones.”

Best of the Best is a free event open to the public that includes performances from the winners of the Christian, Urban/Pop, Country and Rock showcases as well as the winners of the ASCAP Writer’s Nights.

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