While most of America is gearing up to tune into yet another season of American Idol, the citizens of Atlanta have been gathering on Thursday nights to watch their fellow Atlantans sing for their lives. Hosted at the Jungle Night Club, Sing for Your Life is live singing competition that follows 12 vocalists in their quest to be the sole survivor. Each contestant receives style consulting, vocal training, and performance guidance from one of three assigned mentors. After each weekly performance, the bottom two performers (as decided by a live audience vote) must engage in a head-to-head sing-off to determine who will continue on to the following week. After 11 weeks, one singer will receive a cash prize, a professional photo shoot, free studio time, and a few other amazing prizes that come with being the last singing standing. Judge Barry Brandon, who is also a long-standing friend of Grooveshark, hit us up and gave us the skinny on what we can expect from this Hotlanta vocal competition.
-How did the show come to fruition?
My best friend and I (JL Rodriguez) had been toying with the idea of putting a show like this together for years but it was never the right timing. We knew we wanted it to be something other than just a karaoke competition - and knew that we wanted it to be a platform for local artists to shine but we didn’t know much more than that. So for years we sort of sat on the concept. It came up in conversation fairly often but never much more than that. That is until a few months back when we met with both Michael Robinson (the third mentor) and Knyckolas Davis (the creative director). It was then that we finally began to hash out the little details. In a matter of just one night, everything we had discussed for years— was immediately ready to go. It just became obvious that this was the finally right time.
But, it wasn’t until we started moving forward with the project that we realized just how much work and detail was required… let’s just say that we haven’t slept too much… for the past few months…
- How has feedback about this show and competition been thus far?
The feedback has been incredible. More than what we had expected. The show has buzz, it’s being talked about all over social media, the press is picking up stories - so things are going really well. The way we drafted the show was in 3 parts. First came Video Submissions. Of those we invited a select group to the live auditions. From there we picked out the Season 1 Top 12 contestants and that is where we are now. They will compete for the first time this Thursday night, January 10th, in Atlanta, in front of a live audience. It’s basically turning into an X Factor, Idol and The Voice but on a local scale. The catch is that the talent of this top 12, I would argue, are literally just as good as any singer that has appeared on those shows. Honestly, they are incredible. That being said - the buzz surrounding the show will be matched by the talent!
-What qualities did Amy, Chase, Jillian, and Sarah have that caused you to pick them for your team? What do you think the other judges were looking for in their picks.
Each of the 3 mentors (JL Rodriguez, Michael Robinson and myself) fought for the contestants on our teams for different reasons. For me, I was looking for singers that I thought I felt could benefit from advice I was able to provide. I chose each of the 4 for completely different reasons. They do all have 1 thing in common - they are great vocalists. Amy has that rare quality in her voice that combines vocal acrobatics, extreme purity in her sound and a big range. Not to mention she plays piano and guitar. Chase’s voice will melt you. So simple, so effortless, so perfect. Jillian has this rasp on the top of her voice that is reminiscent of Pat Benatar and Taylor Dane while also having the ability to kill it with her falsetto. And then there is Sarah Elizabeth Peavy whose powerhouse vocals are almost indescribable. Imagine the combination of Idina Menzel, Kristin Chenoweth, Kelley Clarkson and Leona Lewis all smashed up into one person.
As far as what the judges were looking for - don’t quote me but I would imagine these are acceptable answers.
JL is a singer / songwriter. To him the most important is probably just the voice itself. A uniqueness that can be conveyed at live performances as well as recorded and the ability to tell a story and evoke emotion through song. He writes pop music so he is looking for someone that can do his music justice while all the while putting a spin on it.
Michael is a performer through and through - so his eyes are probably lighting up when he sees a show. Anyone that can sell a song through dance / movement / delivery will win him over.
That being said I cannot give props solely to just me team so here are my thoughts on the other 8 contestants in the top 12:
JL Rodriguez’s team
Adam Horne - singer / songwriter who sings with so much passion. His raspy, sung from the heart songs will ring true with the audience.
Matty Barbato - a classically trainer vocalist putting a spin on pop music. Let’s just hope he delivers a classical piece at some point during the show! He’s amazing!
Amber Renee - a true artist through and through. She writes music, knows the sound she is going for and is definitely one to watch
Jennifer Zuiff - Wow is all I have to say. I will make the statement and will preface by saying that no one will probably believe me until you hear her - but she sounds like a combination of Barbra Streisand and Judy Garland - only super relevant and so now!
Michael Robinson’s team
Josette P - everyone so far thinks of her as the “performer” of the group. The one who is fun to watch on stage. Well guess what - she is a powerhouse vocalist too! She is going to surprise and wow everyone.
Elliott - talk about an individualist through and through. A great voice with a great look and everyone will be jealous of his wardrobe.
Wade - Such a great male vocalist. With the lack of them on the radio nowadays, he would fill the void flawlessy.
Chari - There aren’t too many words for her. She is so unbelievable that you will just have to watch her shine right before your very eyes. And she is only 18 years old.
The great part about this Top 12 is that they are so different from one another. They all are so great in their own way but the flow of the show will always be so interesting because of their differences.
- What are you looking to accomplish with all of this?
A few things actually. Atlanta is not very well known for its pop music scene. And there is definitely one here. Being that it is the largest city in the south east - and that the population is 6 million plus, it seems only fit that it offers an outlet for singers / songwriters / vocalists and musicians of all genres. I know everyone says - move to LA or NYC or Nashville for the music scene but I beg to differ. The city should be open and welcome for music and all types and it’s about time Atlanta is put on the map for the talent that resides here. So an outlet and platform is really important for the contestants. Sing for your Life is a competition that aims to find not only find Atlanta’s best vocalist, but also to provide artist development and a local, national and international platform for the winner. We want to be able to provide the opportunity to showcase and develop some of the massive amounts of talent hidden away in this wonderful city.
- Have you or the production crew done anything like this before and how has the process been?
I have put together a National tour for myself as a singer, have produced parties, events, fundraisers and more but have NEVER worked on a project in this capacity. It’s been a wild wild ride so far. As I said earlier, we never expected it to create as much buzz as it has. Let’s just say that none of us have been getting a lot of sleep over the past few weeks. And we won’t be for the next few months.
Instead of our houses being designed for sleeping, they are now designed for photo shoots, photo editing, rehearsals, video production, marketing, etc., etc., etc.
But, as other artists, performers, musicians, and anyone else who knows the labor of love, when you’re doing something that you love, especially for others who love it as much as you do– you’ll do whatever it takes to make it happen.
- How will fans of the singers be able to see and follow what is going on if they don’t live in Atlanta? Can they?
Once we moved forward with the competition, we had a brilliant web designer come on board with SFYL. It was his love of music that brought him to us as he was actually considering auditioning for the show! It worked out that he wound up not auditioning but instead, has built a beautiful website that is receiving thousands of hits per week. When conceiving the event, I came at it from an artist’s standpoint. I wanted to make sure that the show was the utmost beneficial to them. We are asking a lot of their time and focus so we wanted to ensure the ultimate in what they are getting from us, therefore we have set up the site so that each contestant has their own personalized page. This page allows fans of SFYL — locally, nationally and internationally — to stay completely up to date with every detail of the competition just by staying up to date with the website. Even further, all of the rehearsals, mentoring, and live shows are being filmed and broadcasted on the website. We want to provide to opportunity everyone to follow and fall as deeply in love with all of our contestants and their performances as we have.
Be sure to check out Barry’s new album, Etcetera
Head to the Sing for Your Life website and catch up on what has been going on in the Jungle. Tune in this week as Grammy Award Winning Crystal NIcole mentors and takes a spot as a guest judge.
Check back with The Grooveshark Blog to keep updated on new releases, exclusive interviews, and more updates on new projects like Sing for Your Life.