Next week he’s going to sing “How Great Thou Art.”

The eyes and ears of lots of local folks have been focused on the USA Network television show “Nashville Star” lately, where one of the final four contestants has a local connection.

Casey Rivers of Lindale, Texas is one of the contestants on the show. It’s the USA Network’s answer to Fox’s “American Idol.”

People at home vote on the contestants’ performances by phone or online. Last night Rivers advanced to the next stage of competition for country singers. Casey is a first cousin to Johnny Rivers of Quitman. Their daddys are brothers.

Johnny and his wife, Melinda, their daughter Bethany Rivers, Melinda’s son Nick Howell and other relatives and friends, including Stevie, Elizabeth, and Jessica Conner, Abby Scott, Brooke Robinson, William Lucuis and Wendell Carney have attended a taping of the show.

Casey was one of 42 contestants picked in January during regional competitions from a field of more then 20,000 according to Melinda.

She said each contestant performed two songs, with Casey performing Hank Williams’ “Your Cheatin’ Heart” and an original song called “Good Things Gone Better.”

On Jan. 11, Casey received the call from “Nashville Star” producers that he was chosen as one of the 10 performers that would compete in the show’s fourth season.

Melinda said Casey has been singing as long as anyone can remember. To learn more about him visit the Web sites or

Family and friends from this area will be in Lindale, Texas tonight for the Casey Rivers Hometown Celebration and concert scheduled for 7 p.m. at the E.J. Moss Intermediate School. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children and proceeds will go toward a grant that will be used to promote child passenger safety in the Lindale area.

“Nashville Star” airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. central time on the USA Network.

A phone number for each contestant is posted during the show so viewers can call into and vote for them. Voting also can be done online. The contestant with the least votes is eliminated.

The winner of the competition will receive a recording contract with RCA.

An interesting side note is that Casey’s cousin, Johnny Rivers, experienced his own special claim to musical fame when he bought a Johnny Rivers CD one time and paid for it with a check, signed Johnny Rivers. He had some fun with the person at the cash register with that one.

Star-stellar season announced

The Alys Stephens Center in Birmingham, Ala., is celebrating its 10th anniversary season with a spectacular lineup of live performances beginning in August.

As always there’s something for everyone. I’m hoping some of the performances slated for the venues at the center will be snagged by Mississippi State University’s Riley Center during its opening season this fall.

The schedule includes performances by: Nickel Creek on Sept. 22; Marcia Ball on Sept. 23; Garrison Keillor on Oct. 11; Ravi and Anoushka Shankar on Oct. 7; Dianne Schuur and Karrin Allyson on Oct. 13; Lewis Black on Oct. 27; Joan Baez on Oct. 29; the Moscow State Symphony on Nov. 19; The Preservation Jazz Band on Dec. 3; the Miami String Quartet on Feb. 8; Chick Corea and Bela Fleck on Feb. 24; “1984” presented by The Actors Gang, directed by Tim Robbins on March 2-3; and Itzhak Perlman on March 31.

For tickets or more information regarding the 2006-2007 season, call (205) 975-2787 or toll free at 1-877-278-8457, or log on to

Subscription packages range from $26-$358. Single ticket sales begin Aug. 14.

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