Buddy Jewell became a household name in 2003, as the winner of the first season of 'Nashville Star,' a singing competition that ran for five years on the USA Network.

Fresh off of his triumphant victory over the other finalists -- including Miranda Lambert, who came in third -- Jewell quickly released his self-titled debut album on Columbia Records. Produced by Clint Black, the record's first two singles, 'Help Pour Out the Rain (Lacey's Song)' and 'Southern Comfort' both soared into the Top 5, before his career came to a screeching halt.

"[Nashville Star] made most of my dreams come true," Jewell tells the Nashville Scene. "It was the things that I'd found out about the music business ... I wasn't as enamored with it after I got in the middle of it as I was before the show. My record debut was No. 1 on the [country] charts, 13 on the pop charts."

After his first album sold more than 500,000 copies, his sophomore record, 'Times Like These' sold a mere 80,000 units, and Columbia quickly dropped him from their roster.

"As it is with Nashville, you're only as good as your last project," he concedes. "I've actually had to pray to God to give me the willingness to forgive some people for making some bad decisions about my career."

But Jewell insists he isn't bitter. He owns a bakery, Peace, Love & Little Donuts, in downtown Nashville, and continues to tour in the United States and overseas, including a recent trip to Poland.  And he says that he is grateful for the opportunities he did gain by being on the TV show.

"It was an experience ... only people who win those kinds of shows get to have that experience," Jewell reflects. "To go from walking in Walmart and nobody cares, to walking in and your kid says, 'Dad, there's a lady who's been following us for six aisles!' It's a weird thing. It's cool, I mean, it definitely fed my ego. I'd be a liar if I said it didn't."

Jewell's latest album, 'I Surrender All,' a collection of hymns, was released on Diamond Dust Records, and is available for purchase here.