June 28, 2007

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New Hampshire is a little bit country
NH Country Music Association holds 20th annual talent search
By Erica Febre efebre@hippopress.com

Before there was such as thing as American Idol, the New Hampshire Country Music Association (NHCMA) was hosting a talent search of its own.

Now, almost 20 years in the making, the NHCMA is gathering country music artists for its 20th annual talent search. Paul Malone, vice president of NHCMA, talks about the different categories available to participants and the prizes:

What’s the history of the New Hampshire Country Music Association (NHCMA) and the talent search?
This will be our 20th annual talent search. Contestants have to be a member of the association to participate in the contest. There will be three talent search auditions: Sept. 9, at Jimmy’s Sports Bar in Dover; Sept. 16, at the Stadium Ten Pin Lane in Manchester; and Sept. 23, at Circle 9 Ranch in Epsom. They compete and know nothing until Oct. 21, when we’ll go to the Palace Theatre (2 p.m.), put on a performance and announce the award-winners. The [NHCMA] actually started in Dover, at Jimmy’s Sports Bar, the association president’s business, in 1988. We also have our “Hall of Fame” at Circle 9 Ranch in Epsom.

Are there advantages to being a part of the association?
We have all the bands listed so people can find shows if they’re looking for country music. We also have a lot of the local venues listed up there. At least once a month, we have a function somewhere in New Hampshire. We put out a newsletter every two months, which tells everyone what’s going on with who, where and why and the whatnot in country music.

What categories are available to contestants?
There are many categories that people can enter — band of the year, vocal group of the year, female vocalist of the year, female entertainer of the year, male vocalist of the year, male entertainer of the year, duo of the year, instrumentalist of the year. They can also compete within different genres — new country, traditional, bluegrass or gospel. So I could have four bands of the year, one in each genre. There’s also country music songwriter of the year, country music co-songwriter of the year, CD of the year, gospel songwriter of the year, gospel co-songwriter of the year, video of the year. I also have the same categories available for ages 3 to 6, 7 to 12, 13 to 16 and 17 to 20. They can compete in all the same categories too, in any genre.

What are the prizes awarded to the winners?
All the winners will receive a trophy as well as a $100 cash prize for each category won. Along with receiving the cash prize and the trophy, they also have the opportunity to go to Pigeon Forge, Tenn., and compete in the North American Country Music Association International (NACMAI) Talent Search. ... Along with that, we’ve also made a deal with a studio in Nashville, Tenn., to buy some studio time. The top five scorers, while they’re down in Pigeon Forge, will also go over to Nashville and record a compilation CD for the New Hampshire Country Music Association. So it gives them that exposure in a Nashville recording studio.

Have you been involved with the talent search for all 20 years?
Well, yes, I have, in some way or another, both myself and the president, Jimmy Woods. ... I did take a break for a few years, from doing the awards portion, but then I took it back up.

A little bit...New Hampshire?
What: The 20th Annual New Hampshire Country Music Association Talent Search
When: Deadline is Aug. 17
For more information: To register go to nhcma.com, call Malone at 373-8242, or e-mail him at nhcma2@comcast.net