Barry Bran­don's new singing com­pe­ti­tion puts fo­cus on live mu­sic.

GA Voice - - Front Page - By Laura Dou­glas-Brown lbrown@the­gavoice.com

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.

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