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Local singer hits The Big Time

By: Stacie Snow

  |  Posted: Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 06:00 am

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A local country singer won the social reality TV show Bud United presents: The Big Time in January.

Jessica Ridely, who was raised in Airdrie and graduated from Koinonia Christian School, appeared on the show on Jan. 21.

The singer-songwriter, who now lives in Nashville, Tenn., competed against two other performers for a chance to open for the the iHeartRadio Music Festival at the MGM Grand Arena for the likes of, Sublime with Rome and Jane’s Addiction.

“The show really took my confidence level and shot it through the roof,” said the 26-year-old mother of four.

“I’ve known that this is what I wanted to do for years and this experience affirmed that I have what it takes to do it.”

Ridley has been singing professionally for five years and she said that starting her career at 21 made her feel like she was behind other artists.

“I felt like the underdog and I thought I was being unrealistic with this dream so I didn’t chase it that much,” she said.

“When I won, I was in complete disbelief and I was so excited. Such a small percentage of people make it in this business.”

Ridley’s mom Lynn Garb said she was very proud of all the hard work her daughter put into the show.

“It was wonderful and very exciting,” said Garb. “She always liked to perform.”

Ridley beat out Laura Jeanne of St. Albans, England, and Justin Nault of Madison, Tenn., as they were pushed to their limits in a series of challenges that tested their songwriting and performance skills, in an effort to prove to Grammy Award-Winning Producer Narada Michael Walden and Clear Channel Radio Program Director Julie Pilat they have what it takes to wow the crowd of 17,000 people.

“Performing at the festival was like coming home,” said Ridley.

“It is surprising but I feel like a lot of artists feel like this: The smaller the show, the harder it is to perform. With a big crowd, there is bigger energy coming from them. To come around the corner and see all those people, I was like, ‘Aw, finally’ and something clicked inside me.”

A handful of radio stations picked up her single Flaming Red in early 2011. The episode was filmed over five days and Ridley said the schedule was hectic.

“All I wanted to do was take a breather and it was pretty stressful but it also taught me that I can do this on my own,” she said.

“I didn’t have access to a computer or my phone so it was all me. It taught me that I can accomplish these things, I don’t need anyone else to rely on.”

Although the experience was positive, Ridley said she encourages inspiring artists to know what they are getting into.

“If you are absolutely sure this is what you want to do, go for broke, but you have to be one million per cent positive because it is daunting and overwhelming and depressing and there are things that will make you want to quit,” she said.

“You can’t do it halfway.”

Ridley and her entrepreneurial sporting scout husband Kent packed up and moved to Nashville with their daughter and three sons in November so she could follow her dream.

Ridley said she is drawn to music because of its ability to touch people.

“I love to get a message across,” she said. “I love to convey something to others.”

She said she would love to come back to Airdrie to perform.

The seven-part Bud United presents: The Big Time on ABC features young adults from across the globe fulfilling their dreams – from racing professional racecar drivers and suiting up for a global soccer powerhouse to pitching for a professional baseball team and taking centre stage at a major music concert. Individuals from all over the world had the opportunity to be selected for the global show by submitting a casting application online.

For more information on Ridely, visit


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