Siblings Angela and Zac Hacker not only share musical genes but they share the spotlight as two of Nashville Star's final competitors. But this isn't just a sibling rivalry, because standing right beside them is family man David St. Romain, prepared to take the crown if that's how America votes. Tonight, the USA Network series' fifth season finale (airing at 10 pm/ET) will name one of these talented singers the winner, but all three contenders seem to already feel that way. TVGuide.com asked the finalists about their thoughts on the entire experience, having Jewel on their side, and why they love what they do.
TVGuide.com: Excited for the finale? How are the nerves?
Angela Hacker: Actually, I don't really have any nerves, the pressure is off. We've already done what we're supposed to do, so now we just get to have fun.
Zac Hacker: I'm sitting here having a Bud Light and something to eat, just having a good time.
David St. Romain: I'm ready to rock and roll and enjoy the last show.
TVGuide.com: I've really been enjoying the show this season. What's been the hardest part of this whole experience for you?
Angela: For me, it's been being away from my son. We have an agreement between us, and he knows that when the show's over, I'm going to be back home.
TVGuide.com: How was it visiting Jewel's ranch and then getting her feedback and advice?
Angela: She is actually a very cool person, from what I've seen of her anyway. When we went out there, she tried to critique our songs to be helpful, not to be degrading. She's just a lot of fun to work with because she's one of us. She's an artist, she struggled, and she knows what it's like to go after it. She [stands] up for everybody when the judges are getting on them.
David: Yeah, definitely. Any advice from any of these folks is helpful because they are so much further into their careers than where we are.
TVGuide.com: It's fun to watch Jewel talk back to the judges, who have been tough on you guys. Have you had some time to talk to them behind the scenes and get more feedback?
Angela: I've seen the judges after the show briefly, and the only comments that have been made to me have been about the performance that night. Nothing elaborate, though.
David: [I've seen the judges] not really backstage, but mostly on the stage after the show. It's always been very positive criticism regardless [of whether] it's liking or disliking.
TVGuide.com: Do you feel like the judges — particularly Anastasia Brown — have a big impact on the voters? I know that I've disagreed with her a lot of times.
Zac: They've had a lot of time around people who have been successful and write songs that are hits. Their opinions sway other people's votes. I'm not sure it's the final say, because I think America is going to have their own opinions and stick to that. Everybody's opinion is thrown into this pot.
David: I think there are times when America does vote with the judges and there are times when they don't. I definitely think [the judges] have some influence, especially because they respect Randy Owen so much, and they definitely probably listen to what he says.
TVGuide.com: Who did you feel was your biggest competitor throughout the show?
Angela: Zac. Early on in the show, you never know who people are going to like or what they're going to be into, so what I may like and think is cool may be totally different than what America thinks. I've kept an open mind through the whole show, but in my own opinion, I thought that Zac, as far as talent goes, definitely is my competition.
Zac: I'm really enjoying it, because it's given me a way to pick on Angela and laugh about it. [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: It's exciting that we have siblings in the final round, but I guess we'll have to see what happens.
Angela: I'm excited for whoever wins. If it's me, obviously that's going to be great. If it's Zac, I will be completely happy for him, and if it's David — I've gotten to know David throughout the show and he seems like a really great guy — I'd be so happy for him, too.
TVGuide.com: I think at this point, you're all in great positions.
Angela: We're all winners.
Zac: The way I'm looking at winning here is [having] my career go on and making a record, regardless of whether or not I win Nashville Star.
David: I'm learning about TV and about professionalism on camera. This end of the business is a whole other animal than what I'm used to, which is just live audiences. I'm not even used to the large-scale audiences that we're surrounding ourselves with right now. I'm really, really proud to say that I'm part of the show, plus the fact that it's allowing me to be seen by so many different people in America and in the music business. It's a launching pad. Shows like Nashville Star and American Idol have proven already that it's a new model for getting a deal and breaking an artist.
TVGuide.com: Have you watched Idol at all?
David: I have not. I can't say that I watch reality shows.
Zac: I have, I have. [Laughs] American Idol and Nashville Star [are like] apples and oranges. For one, that's pop music. Nashville Star allows us to be a little different, we can be more of who we are instead of having to fit a mold.
TVGuide.com: And also, you're already established musicians — you're songwriters, you play instruments — so it's a totally different caliber.
Zac: I agree with you.
TVGuide.com: Do you find it hard to showcase your talent in under two minutes? Because I know that when I watch, I always want you guys to sing longer than you do.
Zac: There's no way anybody could know who someone is in a minute, 40 seconds, but what it can do is get people interested, and that's what it's all about, getting buzz. It gives people enough to see what could be there, and in that moment when they hear us, if they like it, they can look further into it. I'm just glad to have the chance to sing. I could be sitting in a bar singing. [Laughs] It makes us all dig down, because we know we've got to really connect and we don't have a lot of time.
David: That's part of the test of the show, is only having such a short period of time. I find it's definitely a challenge, but it's exciting at the same time.
TVGuide.com: Did you have any reservations about being on the show?
David: I have nothing but positives about being on the show.
Angela: The biggest reservation I had was that it's a reality TV show and I didn't know how that was going to affect me. My biggest thing was, I made a vow to stay true to myself and I was going to be exactly who I was at all costs, whether it turned out good or bad, and I'm just grateful that it's turned out good.
TVGuide.com: For each of you, what's the best part about singing?
Angela: Singing is just something that I've always done, and as a child, I didn't realize that it was a gift. For a long time, I forgot what it was like to enjoy it, because I was lost in gig hell and really trying to be a better writer and focusing more on that. So, when I came on the show, I remembered what it was like to enjoy singing. I feel passionate when I'm doing it. This has been a dream come true.
David: The happiness that it brings to people's lives, the happiness of bringing families together, that's been my favorite part about the show. Families are getting together on Thursday nights [to watch], and it's making people happy.
Zac: It's definitely the reaction from the people. It's the ultimate feeling anyone could feel, coming from my point of view. The first concert I ever played was for 30,000 people, and I was 17. I walked up on stage and I was like, "Oh, my god." It was a sea of heads, and they were all screaming. I was playing guitar for James LeBlanc and we were opening up for Hank Williams Jr. and I could tell at that moment that I was in love with what I was doing. I just knew that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
Reality-TV fans, find scoop on Dancing with the Stars, American Idol and Survivor: Fiji in the Mar. 5 issue of TV Guide.