Brandon Stewart Talks “Shine” In Exclusive Interview!
- How did you get your start in the music industry?
I went through about 15 years of voice lessons. I was first taught in opera, then broadway and ended studying mainstream pop/soul genres. It was during my senior year of high school when my music career really took off. I made it as a finalist on American Idol in Season 12. The entire experience showed me how important these discovery platforms are and why they can change a singer’s life forever. American Idol certainly did that for me. I made relationships that would last a lifetime, working with some of the greatest names in music. The only thing I wished they did differently was pushing contestants like me to better find their own voice. My music does well now, but it took a couple years after my Idol experience to get there. So when I shared the idea behind Shine with Derek Williams, one of our Executive Producers, we both felt it would benefit so many people. Many of these singers don’t have the money or the time to travel to the coasts and compete in these powerhouse karaoke competitions. Not to mention, being a successful independent artist can feel impossible when it’s really not. Taking full control of your own music will actually position you to earn more revenue down the road. That’s why we travel to the middle of America and let these dreamers know they’re not alone. We teach these singers how to become successful in a career that might have felt a bit out of touch before.
2. What can you tell us about “Shine”?
Shine is a singing competition that challenges talented undiscovered artists to compete against one another. No record labels. No politics. We’re not like karaoke competitions on television today. Singers on the show must learn to write their own music, build their own brand and pitch themselves as the next indie phenomenon. The contestants that pass through auditions are put head to head to fight for their spot in the live finale shows, where they battle for the vote of the people using their own lyrics, their own vision and their own voice. We’re a pretty progressive show and we put all the attention on the education of the independent artist. It’s not just singing a cover from a song of some Grammy winning singer week to week, our audience gets a front row seat to the building blocks for each contestant’s sound. From the lyrics to the musicality, you’ll know exactly which artist’s music you like most because it’s their music. It’s more than just a big voice, it’s about being relatable and staying true to yourself.
3. What was the inspiration behind the show?
The motivation for the show came from the lack of attention these karaoke shows put on their artist. From experience, I know there’s a lot of pressure to be who you’re not on the big network shows. Don’t get me wrong, my experience on Idol was incredibly positive and most of what we do today on Shine is thanks to that. But the fact is, they have their own iconic structure that works for them. Ours is different. I genuinely think good reviews will come if we’re true to who these singers are, helping pave a way for them to make millions independently. We don’t have hands from record labels making things more complicated, and you don’t need them in this industry anymore. Just like Chance the Rapper showed us, taking control of your own voice is possible. We don’t like watching singers sell out to executives who don’t care about the artist’s mental or physical health. Many of the mentors on the show have succeeded independently and some have went on to win Grammys. Shine is more than just pointing the camera and shooting, it’s about authentically presenting an outlet for these singers to share their words. It’s about their voice and learning to make a living from it.
4. Where will you be hosting auditions?
We are off on our audition tour July 12-14 to Cincinnati, Ohio, Louisville, Kentucky and Indianapolis, Indiana. You can get all the information you need at our website www.doyoushine.com or email my team for more information.
5. What advice would you give for anyone wanting to try out?
Be yourself. We’re just in our second season and we had no idea that we would become this popular. Businesses are asking how they can take part and everyone is wanting to get involved. I think it’s because of how genuine our intentions are. If you’re a singer and truly want to take music seriously, our platform is for you. Come in, don’t think too much and show us what you’ve got. It only takes one opportunity to change your life forever.
6. Who won the first season of “Shine”?
Our first winner was Emmy Bodner. She’s incredible talented and actually went on to work with FOX right after our show. She was the lead singer for Southern Sirens when she came on the show and she is still the lead singer for them today. When we first laid eyes on her she was something special. She radiates good energy and pulled us in. Her version of Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding out for a Hero” was one of my favorite performances on the entire show. She is going to be returning to coach our contestants this season too. It was a really special thing to hear she was interested in coming back. When we reached out to her, she was all for it. I think she’s really going to be an important role model for the next wave of artists we have on the show because she’s done it before.
7. Who’s judging this season on “Shine”?
This year Grammy Award Winner, Ashthon Jones and I are returning, but we swapped out our third chair. Rilan was incredible last year, but scheduling conflicts didn’t allow him to return to the panel. We’re looking to have him return as a mentor later down the road. Nonetheless, we decided to change the scope of the panel a bit and bring on rapping sensation, 2’Live Bre. Bre radiates an energy that’s unmatched. We’ve never had a rapper on our panel previously and we think he’s the perfect choice. I mean, you really never know what he’s going to say next and that’s what I love about him. If last season was any indicator, him, Ashthon and I are going to have a lot of fun. We are also going to be having Layla Spring, from American Idol, join us during one of our three city stops as a celebrity guest judge.
8. Where can people find more information about the show and the auditions?
We stay active on our social media. It’s @SHINEsings across all platforms. If you stay engaged online, you’ll stay up to date week to week. If you want any information now, just head over to our website www.doyoushine.com and read more. The locations for auditions in Cincinnati, Ohio, Louisville, Kentucky and Indianapolis, Indiana are going to be announced very soon.
9. How do you think the show will be different from others?
To be honest, there’s no show like ours. We respect popular powerhouses like American Idol or The Voice, but they’re karaoke competitions on platforms that reach millions of people. We have only just started, and our mission is a bit different than theirs. We look to teach artists to sing, write and sell. We actually prefer when singers come in with lyrics already written. It tells us they’re ready for the next step; our show. We are the number one competition web series in America and we’re grateful for that. We know we will keep growing with time and expand more each year. When we won all the awards during our first season, we knew there needed to be a season 2. People really enjoyed it and we really enjoyed making it.
10. What is your favorite part about getting to work with Awesomeness TV?
Awesomenesstv is one of the most supportive network of creatives I’ve ever met. I mean, they did have a big impact on digital media. Now they’re owned by Viacom and we get so much support from their team over there too. Some of the shows on BRANDON TV will actually be shot at Viacom. Shine is one we’re most excited about because it’s officially launching all things BRANDON TV. In August, Shine begins and the content will be non-stop for our audience. Awesomeness sort of co-produces everything we have on our YouTube and they give me enough freedom to do what I think would be best. Our team is probably close to 20 show runners/producers now, all working on a variety of shows for the channel.
11. Do you have any other upcoming projects you’d like to tell us about?
We have an entire slate of excitement on the way. Immediately following Shine, we are launching a political talk show, a couple of scripted comedies and some scripted dramas as well. It’s all on our landing page at www.officialbrandonstewart.com/brandontv. We are also actively looking for creators who want a home for their concepts. We are meeting with creators right and left. Our standard is high, but we’re always open to hearing anyone’s pitch for a new web series or short. We have the team to bring it to life. Just like Shine, we look to build many success stories until our digital medium is one of the most competitive in the world. We are hopeful it builds relatively quickly with the help of our team at Viacom and Awesomenesstv.
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