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JOHNNY BULFORD:  2009 Colgate Country Showdown Winner
by Janelle Landauer

Rising country music star, Johnny Bulford has come a long way in a just a few short years.  Bulford, 23, has released 3 independent CDs, plus he's opened for some of country music's top artists including Josh Turner, Emerson Drive, Diamond Rio, Tracy Lawrence and Collin Raye.  In 2003, Bulford was a finalist in the Colgate Country Showdown, but he came up short of the grand prize.  In 2004, he earned first place and won the Florida state title later that year.  After state titles, winners have the opportunity to advance to regionals - and after the regionals, it's on to the national finals.  In 2008, Bulford did just that and advanced from one stage to the next, eventually landing a spot in the National finals.

Earlier this year, Bulford made his way to Nashville hoping to take home the National Title in the Colgate Country Showdown competition.  As one of the finalists, he had the chance to play at the legendary Ryman auditorium for the finals.  The Ryman auditorium, as many country fans already know, was the old home of the Grand Ole Opry and for a new artist like Bulford to play there, he was more than honored.  "It was amazing!" says Bulford.  "I had nerves... I was excited...  I had every feeling in the book!  Musically, it was probably the greatest thing I have done."

During the finals, Bulford was announced as the winner and he walked away with the $100,000 grand prize.  As you could imagine, a lot of different emotions were racing through his head as he was called as the winner.  He kept thinking to himself: "Don't fall, don't fall, don't fall..."  He was also just trying to stay calm on national TV.  Bulford plans on buying a used truck with some of the grand prize money.  "I might even build a little recording studio in my room," notes Bulford.

Bulford's next step in his music career is playing as many shows as possible. "My next big thing is a tour," explains Bulford.   "I figure the more I play shows, the closer I get to a record deal."  Bulford recently released his third independent CD called "Livin' It Up."  "I think there were definitely similarities between my first two CD's," says Bulford. "But, the new one, "Livin' It Up", is completely different.  I really think this one has more variety. There is something for everyone!"

And on a final note, Bulford says to enjoy all of the music out there. “Don’t let it go to waste,” he adds.  “There are so many amazing songs out there, and we are lucky enough to live in a time where they can easily be found. So find them, and enjoy them!  That is what they are here for.”

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Added: April 2009

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