Arts and Entertainment

Rhiana Franklin selected for KMPS-Colgate Country Showdown

San Juan Island singer-songwriter Rhiana Franklin has been selected by KMPS 94.1 FM to compete in the KMPS-Colgate Country Showdown, Friday at Point Defiance Park in Tacoma.

Rhiana, an incoming junior at Friday Harbor High School, is one of 15 singers who will compete for a spot in the state final Sept. 5 at the Kittitas County Fair. State winners advance to the regional final. Regional winners advance to the national Colgate Country Showdown.

Rhiana won a spot in the local competition with her original song, "All I Know," one of 14 songs she's written.

"It's a talent competition and an opportunity to be seen," Rhiana's mother, Suzanne Franklin, said.

And how.

In 28 years, the Country Showdown has become a reliable source of rising country music stars. Over the years, stars such as Garth Brooks, Sara Evans and Brad Paisley have competed in the Country Showdown. At the 1983 national final, Martina McBride and Neal McCoy competed against one another, only to lose to The Jim Arnold Band. In 1985, Sweethearts Of The Rodeo won the national final before becoming one of country music's hottest duos.

This year's national title comes with $100,000.

Besides her singing talent, Rhiana will be graded on charisma, instrumental skill, marketability, and stage presence.

Rhiana is an emerging local artist. She performed at the Freedom Fair in Tacoma on July 4, 2009. She will perform at the Friday Harbor Summer Arts Fair on July 17, and at the Music at the Port concert series. Beginning in mid-July, she will perform Friday and Saturday nights through the summer at Friday Harbor House.

"I just think she's very talented," said Cecil DeMeerleer, who's performed with Rhiana and produced several of her recordings and online videos. "She's got a great singing voice, she writes great songs, she's a solid guitar player. She's got amazing pitch — she's right on all the time. She's very easy to work with, very fun to work with. She's just a great kid."

DeMeerleer remembers the audience response to Rhiana's performance at the Freedom Fair. "She got to sign some autographs," he said. "She's going to be a star."

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