Cowboy Troy, Judd to Host 'Nashville Star'

Country singers Wynonna Judd and Cowboy Troy will host the fourth season of the USA Network's "Nashville Star" talent search series.

The eight-week show, which combines elements of reality TV with a talent competition, has launched the recording careers of Buddy Jewell and Miranda Lambert.

"This is a real coup,"H.T. Owens, executive producer of "Nashville Star," said Monday. "With Wynonna and Troy it gives us a bigger star quotient. It adds excitement to the show."

Judd — who has sold nearly 30 million albums as a solo artist and half of the mother-daughter duo The Judds — said hosting will give her a chance to mentor younger artists.

"I'm at a stage in my career where I know I have something to offer," Judd told The Associated Press on Monday. "I've been on the road half of my life. I love the idea of being able to share this wisdom."

Cowboy Troy released his major-label debut, "Loco Motive," earlier this year. He's had success melding country with rap and rock in a sound he calls "hick-hop."

Music executive Anastasia Brown and singer/songwriter Phil Vassar will return as judges and will be joined each week by a special celebrity guest judge.

The winner of the competition is guaranteed a recording contract, but other contestants can, and sometimes do, end up with contracts as well.

Jewell, the first season winner, reached No. 1 on the Billboard country albums chart with his self-titled debut. Lambert finished runner-up that first year, and her album "Kerosene" also debuted at No. 1.

The 10 finalists who start the new series on March 7 will be culled from about 12,000 contestants.

Judd, 41, recalled her early interaction with women like Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette and Dolly Parton and how it inspired her. She would like to have a similar affect on young artists.

"I really want to be able to plant some seeds and give them hope," she said. "I want to know who they are and what drives them and what their passion is and help bring that out."

Judd says she'll keep reminding them of something she's learned over the years — despite the emphasis on appearance and production, it's really the music that counts.

"I'd love to see somebody young who comes onto the scene and kicks the door wide open to the next big thing," she said. "I'd love to be part of that — of finding a woman who can play that guitar and sing her butt off and doesn't need designer dresses and a hair and makeup team. That would thrill me."