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'Star' finalist will return to Lancaster

Ashlee Hewitt, Lancaster, Minn., now in the final five to be the next "Nashville Star," will come home Wednesday for a special concert, her family announced.

Ashlee Hewitt, Lancaster, Minn., now in the final five to be the next "Nashville Star," will come home Wednesday for a special concert, her family announced.

The field of five at "Nashville Star" will be cut to four at the end of Monday night's reality TV show, after which each of the four are scheduled to make a hometown visit, "Nashville Star" producers announced.

Whether or not Hewitt makes the top four, she'll sing from 4 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Lancaster Golf Course for a benefit concert for a former employer, her family said, then at a dance at her family's ranch.

The benefit will be for Tracey Brewer, who with his wife, Tara, owns the End of the Line Drive-In in Lancaster and who needs a kidney transplant.

Hewitt, 20, began singing in church as a little girl and has performed often with her sister, Katrice. One of 13 children of Jim and Kelli Hewitt, Ashlee grew up on a horse ranch near Lancaster and, according to "Nashville Star" publicity, "is a true country girl. She's comfortable driving tractors, catching fish or riding one of her family's 70 horses."

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"Nashville Star," which airs at 8 p.m. Monday on NBC-TV (Channel 11 on Grand Forks cable), is a singing competition that started with 12 country music acts. The winner will get a major recording contract and perform at the summer Olympics.

Since it began June 9, one act has been eliminated each week after comments from a panel of celebrity judges (singer Jewel, John Rich of Big & Rich and songwriter Jeffrey Steele) and voting by TV viewers who could cast ballots via telephone for their favorites. The show is hosted by Billy Ray Cyrus.

Hewitt's supporters should keep watching the show and keep voting for her because the competition still is going strong, said her mother, Kelli Hewitt.

Hewitt, 20, sang the Dixie Chicks' tune "Cowboy Take Me Away" for the "Nasvhville Star" that aired July 14. Afterward, she and fellow contestants Coffey, Gabe Garcia, Melissa Lawson and Shawn Mayer, were voted into the final five. The teen duo Laura and Sophie were eliminated.

On Monday's show, the top five will sing original songs, the show's producers have announced.

Before "Nashville Star," Hewitt had been living in Nashville, Tenn., and was touring with teen country singer Katie Armiger.

Benefit information

At Wednesday's benefit, a freewill offering will be taken, food will be served, and horse-driven buggy rides will be offered. Hewitt will perform at the top of each hour, a news release said.

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Those who attend are asked to park in town and take shuttle buses to the golf course. A dance will begin at 9 p.m. at the Hewitt ranch, with Hewitt performing with 32 Below from Fargo. Bring your own lawn chair.

Concessions will be available at the ranch. For directions, log on to www.hewittsisters.com .

Reach Tobin at (701) 780-1134; (800) 477-6572, ext. 134; or send e-mail to ptobin@gfherald.com .

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