The show reinvents the traditional singing competition as--for the first time ever--the audience has the final say in real time. The show follows a group of aspiring singers as they audition in live performances. During the performances, viewers vote via an App in real time to determine if the singer will advance in the competition. If the voting reaches a certain threshold, the performer moves on, and the performer can see how the voting is going during the performance, so the feedback is immediate. After three weeks of contestants who earned more than 70% of the vote move on to the 3 week duals round where they competing against another constestant with the person with the highest score advancing to the next round.
Building on its lead-in at 9:00 p.m., the show earned 2nd place in its hour with Total Viewers (3.5 million) this past week. Adults 18-34 and key Women (W18-34/W25-54), while ranking as the No. 1 broadcast with Kids 2-11. “Rising Star” improved its slot over original programming on the same night last year by 17% in viewers (3.0 million for “Whodunnit?” on 7/28/13).
This week, the top 13 performers will all compete in a two hour show and 5 contestants will be sent home at the end of the show.
The Top 13 finalists are:
Shameia Crawford, 30, from GA
She’s a full-time musician, trained in classical music, and studied voice at Winston-Salem State University. She grew up in Monroe, NC and was influenced by Whitney Houston and her gospel background as well as the vocal stylings of Ella Fitzgerald. Shameia most recently was singing back-up for Angie Stone until she finally decided to pursue a music career of her own.
Joshua Peavy, 28, Soperton, GA
A Christian youth and music pastor, Josh studied music at Lee University and is a married father of two youngsters. He taught himself piano and writes music, too and is a fan of college football (University of GA), hunting and other sports.
Maneepat Molloy, 16, Los Angeles, CA
Originally from Bangkok, Thailand, Maneepat is entering her senior year of high school. She has appeared on “Thailand’s Got Talent,” but wants to make it in the USA. She plays viola and ukulele, and her dad introduced her to all kinds of music since childhood.
Audrey Kate Geiger, 24, New York, NY
Originally from West Long Branch, NJ, Audrey got her musical dreams for her dad. She used to be a surfer girl in NJ, but she gave that up to pursue singing in the city and works as a bartender and yoga instructor.
Dana Williams, 24, Los Angeles, CA
A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, she has worked as a teacher’s assistant in an elementary art school class. Her father, David Williams, was a rhythm guitarist for Michael Jackson and one of her biggest musical influences. Her dad bought her the guitar at a young age and gave her the music bug. He passed away a few years ago but he keeps on inspiring her to go for her dream.
Sonnet Simmons, 34, Los Angeles, CA
Born in Athens, Greece, Sonnet was raised in a cult up until the age of 6 when she, her sister and her mother escaped. She grew up in LA and got an opera scholarship to UCLA where she studied voice and changed her focus to jazz. Currently she’s a singer, songwriter, but has also worked many other jobs including as a waitress and bookkeeper. She plays piano and writes a lot of music for commercials and film.
Austin French, 20, Tifton, GA
He is a worship pastor at Journey Church in Tifton,GA,, Austin is an online student at Liberty University studying Evangelism Ministry. A singer/songwriter, he also plays guitar, drums, piano and bass. He’s engaged and comes from a musical family. His mom taught voice and piano—he’s been training since he was just two years old.
April Lockhart, 18, Warren, NJ
A freshman at Fashion Institute of Technology this fall, April usually lives in Nashville and is from Warren, NJ. She has amniotic band syndrome and plays guitar and ukulele with a small prosthetic to hold her pic which she calls her “birdie.”
Macy Kate, age 16, St. Petersburg, FL
She is a singer/songwriter and was a nationally ranked swimmer, but her passion for performing superseded her love for the sport, and she made the difficult decision to shift gears and pursue a career in the music industry. With the work ethic she held onto from her days as a competitive swimmer, Macy spent the past few years, building her fan base by using YouTube and other social media platforms.
Alice J. Lee, 25, Chicago, IL
Raised in Chicago, Alice is an NYU graduate with a music business degree. She’s also a singer/songwriter and has performed on Broadway in “Spring Awakening” and “Spiderman: Turn off the Dark,” and also been on “Smash” and “As the World Turns.” She was most recently seen Off Broadway in “Heathers: The Musical.” She also plays piano and guitar.
Megan Tibbits, 26, Caro, MI
She now lives in Studio City, but is originally from Michigan, and received her BA in Music Education from Cornerstone University. She not only sings, but writes music and plays guitar, piano, harp and oboe. Megan grew up traveling the country in an RV with her family’s band, which exposed her to all kinds of music and instruments, providing her with a strong musical background. Her musical influences are Brooke Fraser, John Mayer, Sara Bareilles and Ed Sheeran. She wants to bring a message of purpose, faith and hope to the world through her music.
Jesse Kinch, age 20, Seaford, NY
A full-time musician and singer, Jesse plays guitar, piano, bass and drums and also writes music. He counts many of rock’s greatest artists as his influences including John Lennon, Jim Morrison, Stevie Nicks, Bruce Springsteen and many more.
Lisa Punch, age 21, Brooklyn, NY
Lisa Punch just moved to Brooklyn from Guyana in hopes of a better life. She has held jobs as a broadcaster, deejay and actress. She’s performed on TV in Guyana and Barbados and writes music, too. Her nickname in Guyana is the “Knockout Punch,” and she’s passionate about music.
The show is hosted by Josh Groban and the experts are Brad Paisley, Kesha and Ludacris.
I spoke with expert Ludacris about the show. Click on the video link to see what he had to say about mentoring the contestants and song choices.
Rising Star airs on Sundays on ABc.