State and regional officials joined with Kentucky country music stars Tom T. Hall and Montgomery Gentry on Wednesday to reveal the locations for the first round of the Country Music Highway Road to Fame competition.
The contest, announced Jan. 31 in Frankfort, aims to identify the next country music star to come out of the area around U.S. 23, which has produced stars such as Loretta Lynn, The Judds and Dwight Yoakam. That legacy earned the road the designation of the Country Music Highway by the Kentucky State Legislature in 1994.
In a video greeting, Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry, whose current hit is Where I Come From, lamented that opportunities for aspiring artists to sharpen their skills in area clubs and other venues are not as prevalent as they once were.
"A lot of those clubs moved to line dancing, which pushed a lot of those musicians and entertainers and bands out," Gentry said. "We support the Country Music Highway Road to Fame, and you should too."
The American Idol-style competition will begin with four preliminary rounds in March. The times and locations are:
■ 1 p.m. March 15 at Expo Center ballroom, 126 Main St., Pikeville.
■ 1 p.m. March 16 at Mountain Arts Center band room, 50 Hal Rogers Drive, Prestonsburg.
■ 10 a.m. March 17 at Paramount Arts Center, 1300 Winchester Avenue, Ashland.
■ 1 p.m. March 18 at Sipp Theater, 336 Main Street, Paintsville
The competition is open to people 13 to 35 who grew up in the 15 counties surrounding U.S. 23. Registration for each of the preliminary rounds will begin two hours before start time. For more information, visit Cmhroadtofame.com.