Sai Jing, a former Olympic swimming champion from Malaysia, joined the cast of CMA’s Unsung Heroes’ season finale this weekend. Given the show’s celebratory flair, it makes sense that she had her initial big break on CMA’s Unsung Heroes while the show’s judges – the legendary Randy Travis, Little Big Town’s Kimberly Schlapman, Wynonna Judd and Angie Miller – were among the guest judges.
Jing, who dazzled millions of viewers when she won the 50m freestyle at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, was immediately invited to share a home with the Unsung Heroes contestants on the show.
The footage presented the unusual show of unity for all the homes as they tear up the paint, pay off their mortgages and get together to do final custom touches for their houses.
This is just a tiny glimpse of a whole house that might never have been built, had not the show’s host, country music star Jason Aldean, dragged Jing to Nashville and pitched the Unsung Heroes challenge to the team at Country Stamps in downtown Music City.
Mitch Janin runs the real estate firm that hosts its annual Nashville outpost of the CMA Music Festival. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Country Stamps manager Mitch Janin started putting on concerts in 1997 and at one point had an entire staff offering house cleaning services on a nightly basis for the festival attendees. He didn’t have the budget to launch a full-service home renovation company but a decade later, as it turned into a tourist draw, Country Stamps was a natural extension of the company and has since grown to include events and sales as well as the real estate firm.
“We had a house that was going to be gutted and rehabbed and renovated and remodeled over a two- to three-year period,” Janin said. “We would have done all this work and then the mortgage company would not take it on and the bank would not take it on. So we just gave up.”
About six months later, Janin ran into Jing on the outdoor stage and tried to pitch her on a project for the company.
“We looked at each other, we both walked away and said, ‘Wouldn’t it be neat if we actually did that?’” Janin said. “And that’s how it all started.”
Janin launched Jade South properties with the idea of targeting the growing international real estate market. Since moving to Nashville, Jade South has worked with international buyers including a Japanese buyer who signed on for a $5.9 million home in May.