Country stars were well-represented in reality TV in 2011. From The Voice and American Idol to Celebrity Apprentice and The Biggest Loser, stars were giving up their guitars and putting on their game faces or else signing for their chance to be music’s next big thing.
Perhaps the biggest reality star from the country music realm ended up being Blake Shelton. Blake took on the role as a coach on NBC’s The Voice alongside artists Cee Lo Green, Christina Aguilera and Maroon 5‘s Adam Levine. Blake coached team member Dia Frampton all the way to a second place finish, winning over America in the process. Blake will take Dia on tour with him in 2012 and he’ll return to the coach’s chair when the second season of The Voice premieres on NBC January 5.
American Idol has been known to springboard the careers of several country artists — and season 10 proved no different. It was an all-country Top 2 with Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina being voted into the finale by fans across America. Scotty went on to win, but both artists released highly-successful debut albums and singles in 2011 and will hit the road on major tours in early 2012.
“This is pretty wild, I gotta say,” Scotty told Billboard after winning. “It’s a whole lot more than I bargained for coming into this. I never would have expected it. But I’m handling it well — this is what I asked for, and it’s my new life, so this is a really crazy ride so far.”
John Rich continued the country tradition of doing well on Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice. John won the competition over Marlee Matlin in what Trump’s daughter Ivanka said was the closest finale in the show’s history. John was awarded $250,000 for his charity, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, bringing his total for the hospital to over one million dollars.
“I got Trump to put on a Stetson hat on national television and now I get to drive down to Memphis with a $250,000 check for St. Jude Children’s Hospital,” John said after his win. “This entire experience has been for the kids and I’m so excited to raise money for this cause and help save lives.”
Trailer Choir’s Big Vinny Hickerson decided it was time to get healthy and was a part of the latest season of NBC’s The Biggest Loser. Big Vinny was one of the final four contestants and his total weight loss while on the show was 184 pounds. During his hometown visit on the show, Big Vinny proposed to longtime girlfriend Lori Diaz while on a date at the Grand Ole Opry.
“I wanted to take her there because it’s a place where so many dreams have come true, right there on that stage,” he told People. “My biggest dream is to be a great husband and a great father, and fall in love.”
Another country music artist who could be found on reality TV was Whitney Duncan, who competed on Survivor: South Pacific. Whitney was eliminated from the competition during the November 30 episode.
Network prime time wasn’t the only place country stars could be seen in reality shows. The Opray Winfrey Network (OWN) aired both The Judds and Why Not? With Shania Twain. The Judds chronicled Naomi and Wynonna Judd as they traveled the country on their farewell tour. Why Not? With Shania Twain was OWN’s highest-rated premiere to date and followed Shania Twain as she returned to the spotlight.