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REVIEW: Country Showcase 2016 goes off with a twang

Country Showcase '16

The fourth showcase in the College of Entertainment and Music Business’s Showcase Series came and went with a bang – or maybe it should be with a twang, because country music was the name of the game Saturday night.

The showcase kept the same layout as the Rock Showcase – placing the stage along the long side of the Curb Event Center rather than the short. The layout let the audience feel a bit closer to the performers and vice versa.

The Country Showcase emblem stood at the center-back of the stage on a wall of wooden planks. Six lit wagon wheels flanked the emblem and added the finishing touches to what ended up being a very simply but very effectively decorated stage.

As for the actual singers, Kayla Woodson took the stage first.

Dressed in all black, she didn’t exactly personify country – but it didn’t matter. Her vocals showed her skill as she belted out songs like Carrie Underwood’s “Two Black Cadillacs” and her two original songs “Before It’s Too Late” and “Fan for the Flame.”

Woodson’s set started out strong, and she slowed it down slightly with her song “Before It’s Too Late.” Once her next original started, though, the tempo sped right back up, as Woodson took on the persona of a vengeful country singer flawlessly and ended her set fantastically.

The next singer made people scream before the lights even raised and his video even played, and Hunter Leath came out swinging with his original song, “Sounds like Seventeen.”

After finishing the first song, Leath put away his guitar and took a seat at the piano onstage, where he stayed for the rest of his set. He slowed down a little with his second song, “Break on Me” by Keith Urban. The set stayed a bit slow– but by no means boring– as Leath ended with his own song “My Life in a Car.”

The third singer, Taylor Edwards, used the power of cute during her set.

One of her songs, “Young at Heart,” centered on her leaving her 5-year-old sister behind when she came to Belmont. Despite Edwards’s skill, her sister overshadowed her when she came onstage at the end of the song – pigtails and all.

“I’m totally going to cry, like Kim Kardashian ugly-cry up here,” Edwards said as she introduced the song.

Edwards finished her set with a cover of Ellie Goulding’s “On My Mind.” This would be a good moment to give a shout-out to the two guys rocking in front of the stage even after Edwards made her exit.

Kassi Ashton closed out the show, and she did it amazingly.

Her second song hit the audience right in the heart when she said her inspiration was her diagnosis with cancer exactly two years before on Feb. 13, 2014. The notes she held with the amount of emotion she did tugged on heartstrings throughout the Curb Event Center.

Ashton’s ending song lightened up the mood as she sang a cover of Dixie Chick’s “Long Time Gone” – accompanied by a fiddle player and a banjo player, like any country singer should be.

Overall, the Country Showcase accomplished it’s purpose – it showcased the talents of several amazing musicians at Belmont. As for the winner – be sure to keep an eye out for Kassi Ashton to take the stage again at the Best of the Best Showcase later in April.

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