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Lance Bass ProtÈGÈ Meredith Edwards In Sync With Country

Anyone hoping that the music industry’s infatuation with youth was just a passing fad got a big wake-up call when 21-year-old Lance Bass announced he was opening a management company last year. A member of pop group ‘NSYNC, Bass sent a message to all of the jaded industryites who refused to take young superstars seriously: they’re here, they’re hot, and they ain’t going away.

That Bass’ first client would be 16-year-old country singer Meredith Edwards (she turned 17 in early March) therefore seemed somehow appropriate. Bass obviously knows something about launching teen acts; as for entering the world of Nashville, said Edwards, “he has got so many friends in country music. He is definitely a great manager. He is the guy who has got the connections, he knows people.”

Indeed, no sooner had Edwards landed at Bass’ Free Lance Entertainment than she was holding a contract with Mercury Nashville in her manicured hands. Her debut, Reach (RealAudio excerpt of title song), releases May 15 on Bass’ imprint label with Mercury, Freelance Entertainment, while the first single, “A Rose Is a Rose” , is at #44 this week on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart.

There are some obvious advantages to having a member of a multi-platinum selling pop group serve as your manager. When Bass squired a virtually unknown Edwards to last year’s CMA Awards show, it made headlines in Nashville and beyond. She toured with ‘NSYNC last fall, opening one of the hottest tours in industry history. The singer admits to being “really scared” on those first gigs – after all, ‘NSYNC is one of the world’s top touring acts, grossing $76.4 million last year, according to trade publication Pollstar. That’s more than rockers Kiss or country’s own reigning king and queen, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.

For an artist whose debut release is still two months away, things seem to be moving expeditiously for Edwards. It’s another wake-up call from music’s youthquake: they’re here, and they’re putting down roots.

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