6 People Who Won “Nashville Star” – And 3 Who Didn’t

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On March 8, 2003, the USA Network premiered Nashville Star, a reality singing competition show specifically for the country genre.

Because it’s the 19th anniversary of the premiere, we are looking back at all the winners of the series…and 3 people who surprising didn’t win.

Buddy Jewell – Season 1

The first season of Nashville Star was hosted by TV personality Nancy O’Dell. The three judges were Robert K. Oermann (a country music historian), Tracy Gershon (a record label executive), and Charlie Robinson (a singer-songwriter).

41-year-old Buddy Jewell from Osceola, Arkansas won the first season of Nashville Star and his self-titled debut album was Certified Gold. The album included two top five hits, “Help Pour Out The Rain” and “Sweet Southern Comfort.”

Brad Cotter – Season 2

For Season 2, which premiered on March 6, 2004, Nancy O’Dell returned as the host, while Tracy Gershon returned as a judge. He was joined by radio host Billy Greenwood, and country duo The Warren Brothers. 

The winner of this season was Brad Cotter from Opelika, Alabama. Cotter actually was eliminated by the judges in the first episode, but was brought back by fan votes. The fans sure loved him because he ended up winning the entire thing!

Erika Jo – Season 3

Season 3 of Nashville Star kicked off on March 1, 2005. LeAnn Rimes took over as host with some help from Cletus T. Judd. Country singer Phil Vassar, Poison frontman Bret Michaels, and record label executive Anastasia Brown served as this season’s judges.

Singer Erika Jo from Mt. Juliet, Tennessee beat out all the competition and after her win, her first album debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard charts.

Chris Young – Season 4

Wynonna Judd hosted Season 4, which premiered on March 14, 2006, and Cowboy Troy served as her co-host. Phil Vassar and Anastasia Brown returned as judges. The third chair was filled by a rotating cast of famous people including Naomi Judd, Big & Rich, Larry The Cable Guy, John Cena, David Foster, Patti LaBelle, and more.

Chris Young, who we know from his hit songs “Voices,” “Gettin’ You Home,” “Tomorrow,” “You,” “Famous Friends,” “I’m Comin’ Over” and more, was just 20 years old when he won Season 4!

RELATED: Flashback To When 20-Year Old Chris Young Won ‘Nashville Star’

He is arguably the most successful winner of Nashville Star.

Angela Hacker – Season 5

29-year-old Angela Hacker, from Muscle Shoals, Alabama, was named the winner of Season 5 on March 1, 2007. She beat out her brother, Zac Hacker, who placed second. It was the first time siblings had competed on the show against each other.

This season was hosted by Jewel and Cowboy Troy, while Randy Owen (lead singer of Alabama) and Blake Shelton joined Anastasia Brown behind the judges desk.

Angela released an album titled The Winner Is Angela Hacker, and it included cover songs she recorded while filming Nashville Star.

Melissa Lawson – Season 6

For Season 6, Nashville Star moved to NBC from USA and CMT Canada and was hosted by Billy Ray Cyrus. The judges were Jeffrey Steele, John Rich, and former host, Jewel.

32-year-old Melissa Lawson was named the champion of the final season of Nashville Star, closing a chapter on a journey that gave country music a surge into the mainstream.

Now that we’ve introduced you to all the winners, let us introduce you to three famous singers who did not take home the top prize.

Coffey Anderson – 4th Place on Season 6

Coffey Anderson placed fourth place on the last season of the show, winning viewers over with his silky smooth and sometimes raspy vocals. Since his time on Nashville Star, he has starred in his own Netflix reality show, released more music, toured, and his song “Mr. Red, White, and Blue,” has been used a lot in TikTok videos.

In 2021, 13 of our service members were tragically killed in the bombing of the Kabul airport during the evacuation of Afghanistan. Coffey Anderson offered to perform his song “Mr. Red, White and Blue” at all of their funerals. Six families accepted his offer, and he performed at all six funerals in one week.

Kacey Musgraves – 7th Place on Season 5

Five years after her time on Nashville Star, Musgraves signed a record deal with Mercury Records and released her debut single “Merry Go ‘Round.” And the rest, they say, is history!

She now has six albums to her name, all of which are critically-acclaimed. A seven-time Grammy winner, Musgraves has taken home the biggest awards the Grammys hands out! After her most recent Grammy win for Best Country Duo/Group Performance, she became the first person in history to win all country categories – Best Country Song, Best Country Album, Best Country Solo Performance, and Best Country Duo/Group Performance.

Miranda Lambert – 3rd Place on Season 1

It’s hard to believe that Miranda Lambert came from a singing competition show, but she did! Lambert is by far one of the most successful singers to come out of the show with six No. 1 albums, seven consecutive Female Vocalist of the Year Awards at both the ACM and CMA Awards, and three Grammy Awards.

She stood out on Nashville Star because she performed her original music, mostly written her her and her dad.