Country music duo Montgomery Gentry will star in America's Largest Talent Search, hosted by Kassie DePaiva of ABC's One Life To Live. The 24th annual Colgate Country Showdown National Final will be produced from the Ryman Auditorium on January 26, 2005 and will air nationwide in March and April over syndicated television with a second airing to follow on Great American Country. The National Final will also be seen internationally on government access channels in more than 175 countries. The one-hour show will feature five regional winners, each competing for the Grand Prize of $100,000 and the title of Best New Act in Country Music. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the show begins at 7:30 p.m.

Montgomery Gentry (Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry) has become a headlining act for Sony Music Nashville's Columbia Records. Their CD You Do Your Thing went gold and the duo had their first #1 spot on both country single charts - Billboard and R&R - with "If You Ever Stop Loving Me." Montgomery Gentry was named the CMA's Duo of the Year and received the American Music Award for Favorite New Artist - Country, also taking honors as the Academy of Country Music's Top New Vocal Group or Duo and the 2000 and 2001 Radio & Records Readers' Poll award for Top Country Duo.

Kassie DePaiva is widely known for her role as Blair Cramer on ABC's One Life To Live and Emmy nominee for 2005 Best Daytime Actress. She was the 2003 Colgate Country Showdown host.

The five regional winners - listed with their sponsoring radio stations - competing at the televised national final this year are:

Michelle Rene' (KZUA Show Low, AZ - Arizona State/West Regional)

Eighteen-year-old Michelle Rene', from Phoenix, Arizona, remembers the first time she sang a solo - as a cow in a nativity scene. Moving on, musically, she began performing throughout Arizona the past four years at state and county fairs, music festivals, professional sports arenas, talent shows and local TV shows. She also has her own show, The Michelle René Show, at Desert Ridge in North Phoenix every Saturday at The District AMC Fountain Stage. As a singer/songwriter, she has the opportunity to record her own music for demos, play guitar and perform with her band, The Michelle Rene' Band. According to Rene', "I love to sing and perform my own brand of country music. By the response of the crowd, they love it too! I learn a lot from the fans.  It's great because there will be people from 8 to 80 in the audience." Rene' won her local show with KZUA in Show Low, AZ; the Arizona State Final at the Yavapai County Fair in Prescott, AZ and the West Regional at The Commercial Casino in Elko, Nevada.

Jessi (WBRT Bardstown, KY - Kentucky State/Northeast Regional)

A 23-year-old Bardstown, Kentucky native, Jessi began performing in church, school plays and competitions at a young age. Her original dream was to become a dancer, even founding and opening her own studio, Dance Pros of Bardstown, Inc. after graduating high school. She worked with her young singers and dancers on stage presence and instilled the importance of feeling the music. After three years in a successful business, Jessi sold the studio and moved to Nashville, working at the Red Iguanas' Wanna B's. Recently, she teamed up with a local band, As Is, from her hometown. They opened for Hot Apple Pie in November and are scheduled at the Dan Talbott Amphitheatre with Blake Shelton next spring. She has also used her musical talents to entertain audiences at the Nelson County Fair, the Bourbon Festival and the Lincoln Jamboree. She is comfortable serenading guests at weddings or belting out songs to get crowds involved in the entertainment. Jessi won her local competition with WBRT in Bardstown, KY; the Kentucky State Final at the Executive Inn Rivermont in Owensboro, KY and the Northeast Regional at Capitol City Music Hall in Wheeling, West Virginia.

Ashley Ford (KNDK Langdon, ND - Minnesota/N. Dakota State/Midwest Regional)

Cavalier, North Dakota's Ashley Ford, 22, began singing as a child in church, has been playing the piano for nine years and has grown as a musician. The University of North Dakota communication major has opened for country sensation Rascal Flatts, performed at the North Dakota State Fair and co-produced a tsunami benefit with the University of North Dakota President, Charles Kupchella. She performed at the Kick'n Up Kountry Music Festival and has sung in more than 80 schools. She is the 2005 Miss North Dakota, a contestant at the Miss America 2005 pageant and a performer at the Miss North Dakota 2006 pageant. Her biggest musical influences are her family, voice coach and country stars Faith Hill, Martina McBride and Shania Twain. She considers Martina McBride's "When God-Fearin' Women Get the Blues" as her favorite song to perform because "it's full of energy and a fun song that I think can really lift others up". Ford won the KNDK local show in Langdon, ND; the Minnesota/North Dakota State Final at Kick'n Up Kountry Music Festival in Hallock, MN and the Midwest Regional at Royal River Casino in Flandreau, South Dakota.

Rebecca Frederick (KKNG Oklahoma City, OK - Oklahoma State/Southwest Regional)

Ada, Oklahoma's Rebecca Frederick considers herself "blessed with a unique background having been born in Argentina where my parents were missionaries, and living there the first 12 years of my life." While in Argentina, she began singing in church with her sisters before branching out as a solo act. At age six, she played Cossette in the musical Les Miserables. She has entertained audiences on the Carnival Cruise Lines, 4 th of July Special with Collin Raye, the Centennial Rodeo Opry and at Magnificent Country in Branson, MO. Although it's difficult to name all of her musical influences, Frederick starts her list with The Judds, Reba McEntire, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Martina McBride, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Simon and Garfunkel and, of course, "My Mommy!" She was awarded the Top Ten Female Vocalist in Branson, the Aura and Tele Awards at the Showcase Jubilee and the Female Vocalist of the Year for the McSwain Musical Theatre. Aside from her vocal talent, she also plays piano, survives on the drums and is learning guitar. Frederick won her local competition with KKNG of Oklahoma City, OK; the Oklahoma State Final at the Tumbleweed Concert Arena in Stillwater, OK and the Southwest Regional at the Sky City Casino in Acoma, New Mexico.

Catherine Ritter (WKBL Covington, TN - Tennessee State/Southeast Regional)

Catherine Ritter of Linden, Tennessee is no stranger to musical competitions; she came in 2nd at the West Tennessee Idol competition, won the TSTV Talent Search at Opry Mills, earned a 2nd place title for the Sonic Search for a Star Competition and was a finalist in Nashville's famous Wildhorse Saloon's Sing to Win contest. She sings the National Anthem at sporting events, political rallies and is actively involved in her church's youth praise team. Currently, she performs at the Huntington Hayride, a live onstage radio show, along with Dixie Carter, Car Mann and Kelly Cash and is the Miss Teen Tennessee 1st Runner-up. She has performed with the band 6Stroke and opened for the Christian duo Lost and Found. Ritter won the WKBL local show in Covington, TN; the Tennessee State Final in Knoxville, TN at the Tennessee Valley Fair and the Southeast Regional at The Ritz Theatre in Thomaston, Georgia.

Each spring, the nationwide Colgate Country Showdown search begins with more than 400 country music radio stations producing over 500 shows to find the best new country musical talent in their market. Radio station winners compete at state and five regional competitions throughout the summer and fall. The Colgate Country Showdown culminates with a national television final competition as the five regional winners vie for $100,000 and the title of Best New Act in Country Music. The televised one-hour special has been hosted in the past by country music superstars such as Barbara Mandrell, Reba McEntire, Willie Nelson, etc.

Colgate-Palmolive is the national sponsor and leading global consumer-products company tightly focused on Oral Care, Personal Care, Household Surface Care, Fabric Care and Pet Nutrition. In the U.S., Colgate sells its quality products under such nationally recognized brand names as Colgate, Palmolive, Mennen, Ajax, Irish Spring, Softsoap, Murphy Oil Soap, Ultra Brite and Fab.

For more information on how to enter and to learn which television station is carrying the show in your area, please visit the Colgate Country Showdown website at


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