'SING FOR YOUR LIFE' TAKES ATL
Barry Brandon's new singing competition puts focus on live music.
Think of it as “Atlanta Idol” or our city’s local version of “The Voice” — but set in a gay bar and with the kind of attitude and attention to detail that only the creators of the queer “Bedlam” party series can bring.
“Sing for Your Life” started soliciting contestants online last month to huge response. A live audition narrowed the field, and on Jan. 10, the top 12 begin live weekly competitions at popular gay nightclub Jungle.
“To be honest with you, a show of this sort has been in my brain for years,” says creator Barry Brandon. “I started off as a singer, not a promoter, so music is really important to me.”
Now, Brandon is poised to combine his music and promotion experience to help other singers get their big breaks.
“After being in Atlanta working on events, promotions and in the entertainment industry, it felt that it was the right time to execute the idea. The concept in its entirety is a collaboration between a team of artists who have all come together to create this show,” he says. “It’s the most detailed and difficult project I have ever worked on but it just feels right.”
Brandon and collaborators JL Rodriguez and Michael Robinson will each mentor a team of four contestants as the top 12 compete to see who will be the final winner. One contestant will be eliminated each week as “Sing For Your Life” spans three months at Jungle.
“In its simplest form Sing For Your Life is a singing competition just like ‘American Idol’ or ‘The Voice.’ Sing For Your Life is different because the focus is actually on the singers. We are not searching for ratings,” Robinson says.
“We do not need to get the biggest named celebrity to be there week to week simply to keep people interested,” he adds. “Our focus is mainly on the vocalists and their development and nothing else.”
‘Outrageous’ support already
All of the organizers have been amazed with the response to “Sing for Your Life,” which offers a different option from the drag competitions that are more typical in Atlanta nightlife.
“The feedback was massive! 20,000-plus hits on YouTube in one month. 30,000 unique visitors on our website in 2.5 weeks. Thousands of votes through our polls. … The support has been outrageous and we haven’t even started the show yet,” Brandon says.
“It seems that people are loving this show — and we are loving the love,” he says. “It’s crazy to me.”
Some 51 videos were submitted, which were culled by the three organizers to narrow the field to 25. Nearly 300 turned out Dec. 13 at Jungle to see those singers compete to be in the top 12, who were announced New Year’s Eve at Bedlam’s Glitter & Fur Party and will compete in the weekly sing offs.
The line up includes Jillian McWilliams, Sarah Elizabeth Peavy, Chase Davidson and Amy Dixon on Brandon’s team; Chari, Josette Pimenta, Wade Lowman and Elliott Alexzander on Robinson’s team; and Matty Barbato, Adam Horne, Amber Renee and Camille on Rodriguez’ team.
Every Thursday, the contestants will perform with live musicians for the live audience at Jungle.
“The judges each week will be the audience, so if you really believe in a person’s talent you have to make sure you’re there to vote for them,” Robinson says.
After the audience votes, the bottom two contestants will be in the “Danger Zone,” where they have to sing for their lives to avoid being cut.
“We took what we liked about each show [like “American Idol” and “The Voice”], infused it into the project and then added a little kick,” Brandon says, noting that between sing offs, contestants will get mentoring sessions, voice lessons, vocal coaching, branding and promotions sessions, songwriting sessions and more.
“We are not trying to make money off of the contestants or the winner. We are trying to give them a platform to excel at their craft and provide them an outlet of exposure along with industry master classes,” he adds. “Sometimes I get jealous that I can’t be one of the contestants. I wish I would have had this kind of backing when I was starting off!”
The winner, who will be chosen March 28, receives cash, studio time, a photo shoot, live performance bookings and more. Brandon and Robinson don’t want to give away too many details, and won’t say if the singers will pick their own tunes each week, or face challenges or other requirements from the mentors.
“Let’s just say it won’t be the same formula week to week so in order to catch everything you’ll have make sure you’re there,” Robinson says.