Marie Wise-Hawkins was announced as the 2014 KHTS Santa Clarita Valley winner of Saturday’s 33rd annual Country Showdown at Concerts in the Park.
The seven-person country group competed against two other winners of the preliminary rounds at the show, which was headlined by last year’s winner, Suzanne Harper.
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“It’s amazing to have our KHTS winners go as far as they have, and it just shows the raw talent that we have here in our area,” said Carl Goldman, co-owner of KHTS AM-1220. “To follow in the footsteps of some of the previous winners that are the ‘who’s who’ of country music, including Miranda Lambert, Brad Paisley and Jason Aldean, to name a few– all have won in the past and it was a launch for their careers.”
Marie Wise-Hawkins is set to move on to the state finals at Knott’s Berry Farm in September, where they will have the chance to move onto the Regional and National competitions.
Photo Gallery: 2014 Concerts at the Park – Country Showdown
Only five regional winners will advance to the Nationals in Nashville, the country music capital of the world, where this year’s champion will win a $100,000 prize and recording contract.
Finalists are set to take part in a national television special at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, the famous former home of the Grand Ole Opry, hosted for the second year in a row by LeeAnn Rimes.
“The goal of KHTS and our involvement in the Country Showdown is to bring attention to the talent that we have locally here in Santa Clarita,” said KHTS’s Alana Cantrell. “So we’re excited to have Marie Wise-Hawkins move onto Knott’s Berry Farm because she is Santa Clarita born and raised.”
Suzanne Harper, who headlined the show Saturday, was the 2013 KHTS Santa Clarita Valley winner and moved on to win the Knott’s Berry Farm and Regional competitions, making her a finalist at the National competition in Nashville.
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The other Santa Clarita finalists that performed at Saturday’s Concerts in the Park were 13-year-old singer J’Rose and the three-person band Annie Body’s.
“I like to mention a few who didn’t make it all the way in the past, and those include Toby Keith, Tim McGraw and Carrie Underwood,” Goldman said. “So it just goes to show there are no losers when you get down to that level of competition.”
Poor Man’s Poison, the 2012 KHTS Santa Clarita Valley winner, went on to win the entire competition in January 2013.
“This is the third year KHTS has hosted it,” Goldman said. “Even though there were hundreds of radio stations that participated the first year we did it, our finalist became the winner. The fact that thousands entered in our first two years and our entrants went to the finals is pretty incredible.”