January 23, 2009 07:50 AM

Calling herself “Mess USA,” former beauty queen Tara Conner introduces herself to fellow contestants on CMT’s new season of Gone Country with a shocking admission: After the revelations of her underage drug and alcohol use that nearly cost her the 2006 Miss USA crown, Conner contemplated suicide.

“When everything went down with me when I was Miss USA, I didn’t know who I was,” Conner tells her castmates on the show’s premiere episode, airing this weekend. “I didn’t know what real emotions were. I was a miserable person. I got to the point, literally, where I was suicidal.”

Conner, 23, is one of seven celebrities vying for the chance to write a country song that will be recorded by Gone Country host John Rich. Also starring on the show’s third season are George Clinton, Taylor Dayne, Micky Dolenz, Sheila E., Richard Grieco and Justin Guarini.

Of her dark time, Conner tells Rich and the cast, “I just didn’t feel at all.” But she says that since spending a month in rehab in 2007, “I feel so much. When it hurts, it hurts really bad but when it feels good, it feels good!”

After Conner’s confession, Sheila E. declares her a “beautiful country sweetheart,” while Rich says, “You definitely got the fuel to write something incredible.”

The show, which runs for seven episodes, will premiere on CMT Saturday, Jan. 24, at 8 p.m. ET.

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