Last year, Sing for Your Life captured the attention of Atlanta’s nightlife scene. With a fierce competition that included several talented local performers, Sing for Your Life provided a fascinating look at Atlanta’s musical talent. The competition returns for a second season Thursday, Jan. 9 at Jungle, so we spoke with show co-creator Barry Brandon about the origins of Sing for Your Life, what to expect in season two, and more.
David Atlanta: What led you to create Sing for Your Life in the first place?
Barry Brandon: I was living in NYC for a few years and through a chain of random events I found myself back in Atlanta as of 4 years ago. I was singing, touring, had just released an EP and had just started working in promotions through Bill Kaelin. I started noticing how difficult it was, particularly in Atlanta, with the pop music scene and how there wasn’t a huge platform for pop recording artists. It led me to a bit of confusion. Over the course of a few years, through working in entertainment and nightlife industry, I started to have an idea of how to bring this show to life. I waited for the right time to undertake such a production. One night I was sipping on wine with two of my best friends, JL Rodriguez and Michael Robinson, chatting about the missing link of music and dance in this city. That very evening, we decided to move forward with the show. It was all of a 10-minute conversation and the show was conceived. The following day I started working on the details of the season and we created Sing for Your Life just like that.
DA: Having gone through one cycle of the show already, were there any surprises you had about the reaction from the Atlanta community to the show?
BB: A few! First and foremost, we were surprised and a bit overwhelmed with how quickly the city reacted to the show! The submissions were flying in, my inbox messages, texts and emails were receiving so many different things – thank you’s for doing the show to wondering how to be part of the production team to where can I sign up to be on it. Honestly, we knew that we were filling a gap within the community but weren’t prepared for such a huge outpour of support.
Then came the live shows. People gave standing ovations, boo’d the judges and mentors, cried when their favorite was sent home. It was a whirlwind of emotions and we lived for it. It showed that we were doing something right.
DA: With season two getting ready to premiere, are there any changes to this season that audience members should expect?
BB: There are only a few actual production changes. For example last year each of the three judges had teams of four. There are no teams this year, so all 12 acts receive equal attention from JL, Michael and myself. The other noticeable change is with our host. Last year we had Miss Sarah B, who we loved dearly, and for season two we brought on the fabulous Jean Kelley. She is fantastic!
DA: Josette was your winner for the first season, and you’ve worked with her (along with some other participants in the first season) since the season ended. What’s it like working with Josette since her win?
BB: Josette is fabulous. A great representative of Sing for Your Life. She is fearless! A true triple threat; i.e. dancer, singer and comedian / actress plus she can write music too. She performed at the Bedlam Presents Glamour Shot Party as well as opening the closing cabaret at Pride where there were literally thousands of people, she premiered her debut single, “Here Kitty Kitty,” which she co-wrote with JL Rodriguez. She performed at The W Downtown for Live Local back in August and is now booked all over the city for a number of performances. She’s a real character and hits close to home for me because she’s Italian and her and her family remind me so much of mine. And her boy – get out of here with all that!! Props to Michael for mentoring her in season one.
DA: What are you looking forward to most this season?
BB: I am so excited! We honestly had some great talent last year but this year I truly believe they upped the game. They are all so truly incredible in their own way and I am so thrilled to watch them shine. I am so happy to get to know them, work with them, help where I can and just be a part of their artistic expansion.
With Amy Dixon as their vocal coach, Elliott Alexzander, as their stylist and the rest of the team behind them to raise the bar of production and standard, I couldn’t be more happy than to be experiencing the show with the community.