This fall, one Edinburg native gets set for a country music opportunity of a lifetime.
Casey Cantu, 21, also known by his stage name Casey Emmanuel, is preparing to compete in an online battle of the bands created by Country Music Television.
CMT has announced that Cantu, along with 63 other contestants from 28 states will be competing in this year’s 4th annual “Music City Madness” online talent search over the next eight weeks. Fans will vote to determine winners in six rounds of competition. The competition offers up and coming artists a chance to showcase their talent and the winner will audition for label execs at the Valory Music Co.
“I think it’s our time (Hispanics) to bring it to the mainstream. I mean, to a point we already have. Those like Freddy Fender first broke it into the mainstream. And it seems right now everybody wants to do it. You heard George Strait sing ‘El Rey’,” Cantu said about his idol’s rendition of the traditional Mexican song.
“The Hispanics are getting very big now and they are looking for us in country music. I would love to be a part of that,” Cantu said.
Cantu was selected from thousands of participants who submitted music videos with original music for the competition. Cantu entered his video “If Barstools Had Seatbelts” shot entirely in Hargill.
This year’s competition has just begun, and will consist of four different brackets with various artists. People going online to vote and whoever gets the most votes continues. This year marks the second year Cantu has competed. He made it to the semifinals a year ago.
Cantu will have country music star Justin Moore as an online mentor who will provide exclusive insight via CMT.com video blogs, and offer tips on creating a music video, writing hit songs and building a music career.
CMT has also added star participants Reba McEntire, Jack Ingram, Jewel and Jimmy Wayne, who will support contestants throughout the competition.
“The competition is always going to be stiff, to me it’s always who has the drive and who has the hunger because there a lot of very talented people,” he said.
Cantu is a graduate of High School for Health Professions in Mercedes and has been playing live since he was about 13 years old. After Med-High, he went on to attend the Sound Audio Engineering (SAE)-Institute in Nashville which has produced many well known country western stars. Casey then sought the help of producer Johnny Garcia, currently Garth Brooks’ guitarist, to promote his professional career. Cantu previously was a semi-finalist in the Next Great American Country Star Competition on GAC last Summer.
Cantu was born in McAllen and was influenced early on by his father, Casey Cantu Sr., who played with a well known local band called “The Tumbleweed Band” which played Tejano and Western music in the seventies and eighties. The group performed a musical style of traditional two-stepping country music and incorporated Spanish and bi-lingual lyrics.
Musicians from that band, like guitarist Johnny Garcia went on to become regulars for Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood. Fiddle player Dean Brown currently plays in Tim McGraw’s band the “Dancehall Doctors”.
“The artists here in the Valley are very passionate about their music, especially on the Tejano side because that’s more of our roots,” Cantu said. “But this also shows that we are able to branch out, that we’re not a one trick pony.”
Anyone who want to vote can do so at www.cmt.com/interact/music_city_madness/