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Latest News: Updated 1/9/06


Michelle Rene' Wins Colgate Country Showdown National Final


NASHVILLE, TN — Singer/songwriter Michelle Rene' of Phoenix, Arizona was named the Best New Act in Country Music at the 24th Annual Colgate Country Showdown National Finals held Thursday evening (January 26, 2006) at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.  For the first time in the Country Showdown’s history, five females competed for the $100,000 grand prize before host Kassie Depaiva of ABC’s One Life to Live and country duo Montgomery Gentry presented the ecstatic Michelle Rene' with a trophy and check.

From the stage of the Ryman, the “Mother Church of Country Music,” West Regional winner, Michelle Rene' (KZUA Show Low, AZ); Northeast Regional winner, Jessi (WBRT Bardstown, KY); Midwest Regional winner Ashley Ford (KNDK Langdon, ND); Southwest Regional winner Rebecca Frederick (KKNG Oklahoma City, OK) and Southeast Regional winner Catherine Ritter (WKBL Covington, TN) demonstrated their equally extraordinary talents with verve to validate their competitive edge before industry veterans Craig Campbell (Sony Records), Keith Follese (Midas Records) Producer, Garth Fundis, Mike Martinovich (The Consortium Group) and Tinti Moffat (William Morris Agency) who were the decision makers.

The judging criterion was based on Marketability in Country Music; Vocal/Instrumental Ability; Originality; Stage Presence & Charisma; Overall Talent and Original Music. To showcase her artistry, winner Michelle Rene' performed two self-penned songs (the bluesy-feeling “Heart of Love” and the upbeat “Cowgirl Heart of Mine”) in front of a full house.  Michele introduced herself to the judges and the audience as the whole package--with talent and a style she describes as “contemporary country rock with a little bit of bluegrass.”

Michelle Rene'’s title comes after participating in the Colgate Country Showdown, a nationwide talent search that begins at a local level with more than 400 country radio stations participating.  Over 500 local talent competitions were held as part of the 24th Annual Colgate Country Showdown with more than 10,000 acts competing.  Local winners moved on to compete at the State level; 46 State competitions were held.  The
winner from the State competition moved on to compete in one of the five regional competitions to make it to the finals.

Eighteen-year-old Michelle Rene' began performing professionally throughout Arizona four years ago at state and county fairs, music festivals, professional sports arenas, talent shows and local TV shows.  She currently hosts her own live show, The Michelle Rene’ Show, in North Phoenix every Saturday evening at the District AMC Fountain Stage in Desert Ridge.  She is a singer/songwriter who identifies her musical influences as Martina McBride (for her lifestyle, vocal performance and heartfelt lyrics) and Shania Twain (for her stage performance and charisma). Mirroring their style, Michelle Rene' hopes to become a mainstay country music artist.  “My original music has it’s own style,” says Michelle.  “I don’t want to follow the fads or trends. I just want to stick with what I feel and write, and perform songs that have a future.  I have a lot to say and this is just the beginning…of my future in country music!” 

Michelle Rene' follows in the footsteps of some of the notable country music artists such as Garth Brooks, Mark Chesnutt, Billy Ray Cyrus, Sara Evans, Erika Jo, Toby Keith, Martina McBride, and Neal McCoy who have competed in the Country Showdown.

“I didn’t just enter this competition to win.  I entered this competition to begin.  To begin the business of making music and the first thing I’m going to do is put the money into a business account and then get into the studio,” adds Michelle.

Michelle is scheduled to record her first single to be released to radio by late spring.  She will begin her publicity campaign and radio tour immediately.

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.

The National Final will air nationwide in March and April over syndicated television with a second airing to follow on Great American Country and can be seen internationally on government access channels in more than 175 countries. For more information how to enter and to learn which television station is carrying the show in your area, please visit the Colgate Country Showdown website at www.colgatecountryshowdown.com.

Finalist Bios

Michelle René
West Regional Winner

Home Town: Phoenix, AZ


Michelle René, 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 René Band. According to René, "I love being able to express myself through my music and see who it touches and entertains."
Michelle won her local show with KZUA in Show Low, AZ; the Arizona State Final at the Yavapai County Fair in Prescott Valley, AZ and the West Regional at the Stockman's Hotel & Casino in Elko, NV.

Northeast Regional Winner

Home Town: Bardstown, KY

Jessi began performing in church, school plays, competitions and recitals 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 and have opened for Hot Apple Pie and Blake Shelton. She has also used her musical talents to entertain audiences at the Nelson County Fair, the Bourbon Festival and the Lincoln Jamboree. Jessi says she is "able to pull you into the songs she sings whether it is a break your heart ballad or bring you to your feet get down song."
Jessi won her local show with WBRT in Bardstown, KY; the Kentucky State Final at the Executive Inn Rivermont in Owensboro, KY and the Northeast Regional at the Capitol Music Hall in Wheeling, WV.

Rebecca Frederick
Southwest Regional Winner

Home Town: Ada, OK 


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, 4th of July Special with Collin Raye, and the Centennial Rodeo Opry at Magnificent Country in Branson, MO. 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. Rebecca's talent can be described in one word: Diversity. From her voice to her songwriting, her music could easily fit into several musical genres: country, blues, pop.
Rebecca won her local show with KKNG in Oklahoma, OK; the Oklahoma State Final at the Tumbleweed Concert Arena in Stillwater, OK and the Southwest Regional at the Sky City Casino in Acoma, NM.

Ashley Ford
Midwest Regional Winner

Home Town: Cavalier, ND

Ashley Ford began singing as a child in church, she has been playing the piano for nine years and had private vocal training. The University of North Dakota communication major has opened for country sensation Rascal Flatts, Terri Clark, and Sawyer Brown, and has performed at the North Dakota State. Ashley was crowned the 2005 Miss North Dakota, was a contestant at the Miss America 2005 pageant and a performer at the Miss North Dakota 2006 pageant. She has sang and spoke to over 20,000 students at 80 schools throughout the U.S. Ashley says that "country music is my passion and my goal when I'm performing is to entertain my audience so they feel connected with my music."
Ashley won her local show with KNDK in Langdon, ND; the North Dakota State Final at Kickin' Up Kountry in Lake Bronson, MN and the Midwest Regional at the Royal River Casino in Flandreau, SD.

Catherine Ritter
Southeast Regional Winner

Home Town: Linden, TN

Catherine Ritter 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, Kelly Cash and Linda Davis. Catherine is currently the Miss Teen Tennessee 1st Runner-up. She has performed with the band 6Stroke and opened for the Christian duo Lost and Found.
Catherine won her local show with WKBL in Covington, TN; the Tennessee State Final at the Tennessee Valley Fair in Knoxville, TN and the Southeast Regional at The Ritz Theatre in Thomaston, GA.


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