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Big Jib Productions organized and executed a cross-province talent search this year, to seek out, as the competition’s title declares, Newfoundland & Labrador’s “Next Country Star.”

Mallory Johnson, raised by a touring country singer mother, has won the twelve-week hunt, after out-singing more than 400 fellow Newfoundlanders.

Her big win includes a trip to Nashville for a studio session with Dirt Road Records, and new acoustic from Long & McQuade. She’ll also get to be an opening act at an upcoming concert with Brand Concerts & Events, and Big Jib Productions will shoot her a video.

It’s Big Jib’s Donny Love who is behind the competition. “Knowing the extent of talent here in the province, and having come into contact with the right people, we wanted to offer some local musician the chance to really experience the whole Nashville music scene first hand,” he says.

“And you never know maybe while in Nashville our Next Country Star would get noticed by the right people. The talent is certainly here for sure.”

 Congrats on the win, tell us a little about why you entered the competition.”

Thank you! I first came across an ad for the competition on Facebook and thought it’d be a great opportunity to perform country music and perhaps get a chance to check out the Nashville scene.

I’ve never been to Nashville and it has been my dream for a long, long time. I grew up listening to country because my mom travelled Canada and The States performing that genre of music and I was always around it. When I was 11, I recorded my first album with my family band “The Cormiers” (my mom Loretta Johnson, my uncle Gordon Cormier, and my cousin Randall Cormier), in which we played mostly celtic/traditional music. I love the traditional stuff, but country has always been where my heart is, and the grand prize for this competition was too good not to give it a try.

“How did you choose the songs you chose to win the competition?”

Seeing how part of the prize package was to record a single, I thought the wisest decision would be to play original music. This was a province-wide competition so there was no doubt in my mind that every contestant in the finals would be amazing vocalists – and I was right. In a talent search like this, you need something to help you stand out. In the earlier rounds I did some covers, but I always made sure at least one was an original song.

Nashville should be exciting, Are you excited or nervous about heading there to record?

I have never been to Nashville. I don’t think it has really sunk in yet that I’m finally doing it and it probably won’t sink in until I’m on the plane. I’ve always told people that someday I’ll get there one way or another, and now it’s actually happening. I am beyond thrilled AND nervous to record while I’m there.

In Nashville you’re a small fish in a big sea of talent, so I’m sure it’ll be intimidating but exciting at the same time. I can’t wait to explore and just take it all in. Hopefully this experience will be a stepping stone in the right direction for my career in country music.

Will the single be an original song? Did you write it, if not, who did/will?

The single will most definitely be an original song. Being a recording artist is tough and you need a skill or quality that sets you apart, and the ability to write and record your own music (in my opinion) is very impressive. My original songs are pretty much entries from my journal. It’s scary to feel so vulnerable and having your raw feelings so public, but I think that’s what helps people relate to it so well, and helps them feel what you feel in your music.

Any thoughts on the concept for the music video yet?

There hasn’t been much discussion about the video yet because I haven’t picked which song I’d like to release as my first single.