BET’s reality music competition, The Next Big Thing premiers on July 9 at 10 pm. And, notably, Avalon Young, who placed in the Top 8 on American Idol season 15 in 2016, is one of 21 competitors. Avalon made her mark on the show with hip-hop infused covers of Chris Brown’s “Yo (Excuse Me Miss)” and Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself.” Also involved with the project are the CEO and an A&R executive from EMPIRE records, which recently signed season 8 Idol alum Adam Lambert.
The Judges, also known as “The League”, Dame Dash ( co-founder of Roc-A-Fella & Rocawear along with Jay Z), Zaytoven (producer, musician has worked with Usher, Future, Gucci Mane, and more) and Tina Davis (current head of A&R at EMPIRE records, she managed Chris Brown for 11 years) will place up-and-coming R&B and hip-hop artists through a grueling artist development boot camp designed to create music stars.
“We have reinvented the stale singing competition show for our audience,” explains Dame Dash. Contestants will compete weekly in survival-of-the-fittest challenges leading to a showdown where A&R executives, Serge Durand, Capitol Records; Erika Coulter, Epic Records; Tuo Clark, Def Jam Records and CEO Ghazi, EMPIRE Records will have the chance to offer a record deal on the spot.
Obviously taped months ago, the late Nipsey Hussle, gunned down in Los Angeles last March, will appear as a guest mentor along with Lil Kim, Tamar Braxton and Joe Budden. The series runs for 10 episodes.
Check out an extended trailer below:
MEET THE CONTESTANTS:
Michael “Swayvo” Archer (Atlanta, GA) – Son of Angie Stone and D’Angelo, Swayvo Twain is looking to break the singer expectations from his R&B star parents to rise as a rapper-singer. His Southern rap sound fits right in with current music trends. Despite his reserved personality, he is known to break out of his shell on stage to show his versatility.
Demetrius Mack-Gray “Young Juve” (New Orleans, LA) – Growing up Young Juve thought his jump shot would take him to the NBA. As he grew older he realized his hoop dreams would only take him so far. His other talent, gifted from his famous father and rapper Juvenile, was more in his lane. Raised in New Orleans, Young Juve is looking to establish his individuality in the music industry.
Jesediah (New York, NY) – Jesediah is a Black trans male rapper based in New York who is looking to fuse R&B, pop, folk, dancehall, and hip-hop. The 21-year-old aims to become a voice and advocate for fellow Black trans youth as well as increase visibility for the community within hip hop. His talents range from instrumentation to songwriting and producing songs.
Mario Lozano “Rio Loz” (Los Angeles, CA) – Rio Loz, is a Colombian who moved to the U.S. at the age of three. He grew up listening to salsa in Miami and playing the trumpet. When he heard hip-hop for the first time, that moment gave birth to his music career. He has an unorthodox, bilingual style that infusing Spanish into his singing and rapping.
Tobias Garvey “Pimp Tobi” (Berkeley, CA) – Pimp Tobi, is a rapper-singer native to Berkeley, CA. Growing up, he was always around music with his father being a reggae musician and his sister being a rapper. Through the fusion of these musical influences and his life’s experiences, Pimp Tobi has developed his own unique style and sound.
Timothy Kerr “RF Timbo” (Philadelphia, PA) – RF Timbo has sacrificed everything for his rap dreams, yet stays encouraged that he will make a name for himself and his hometown of Philadelphia. His unique sound of Afro-pop and reggae keeps him current to today’s music trends. His motivation to stay dedicated to music is his young son.
Nicolette Ard “Pretty Yellow” (Covington, LA) – Pretty Yellow is a rapper from a small town outside of New Orleans, called Covington, LA. Her life wasn’t one of privilege with her having to step up at a young age to care for her family. That hustler spirit thrives in her music that she describes as raw, dominant and sexy.
Tia P Parchman (Inglewood, CA) – Tia P is larger than her petite frame as R&B singer-songwriter, rapper, drummer and producer with a funky, witty sound. Blessed with two musician parents, she lives every day with great passion through her music. Her dream is to tap into diverse audiences and create music that resonates with all audiences.
Niyala Hedge “Lovee” (Virginia Beach, VA) – Living in Cleveland, OH for Lovee has not been easy, but the struggle drives her to make a better life for her and her daughter as a hip-hop artist. She hustles as a personal chef while catering to her first passion, music. Lovee is determined to take over and succeed as a versatile artist.
Brandon Sims “B Sims” (Atlanta, GA) – Reminiscent of an old school, R&B crooner with urban and pop melodies, B Sims is ready for the spotlight. His music career started in an all-male R&B group that dismantled, yet he overcame the disappointment and is now forging a new path as a solo artist. B Sims is passionate, empathetic, and wants others to grow closer through his music.
Bernarr “Durand” Ferebee Jr. (Cleveland, OH) – With a piano and vocal teacher mother and an audio engineer father, Durand is no stranger to music and all that it entails. Full of energy and personality, Durand is a born entertainer and has been heavily compared to Prince. His musical experiences include singing background for Erykah Badu.
DeAngelo Doles “Billy Mercury” (Norfolk, VA) – Billy Mercury is a 30-year-old singer-songwriter and rapper who blends hip-hop with R&B for a sound that often gets compared to Marvin Gaye and Childish Gambino. Born and raised in Norfolk, Virginia, Billy‘s childhood was bright with his two-parent household becoming a safe haven for his peers. His life shifted when his parents divorced at 17 and he found spirituality. This journey of faith and family coupled with becoming a new father, has elevated his sound to touch the heart and soul.
Orlando Dotson “Ashton London” (Memphis, TN) – Ashton is a R&B singer with a falsetto that is compared to Prince and Michael Jackson. The 21-year old has family-oriented goals for his career with dreams to sustain his single mother, a grandfather with glaucoma and Parkinson’s Disease, and a grandmother who is still working at Walmart. Ashton has showcased his talents as an opening act for Keith Sweat, Monica, and Ginuwine, which has garnered attention for his smooth R&B.
Terrel Upshaw “TJ” (Detroit, MI) – TJ is a R&B soulful singer-songwriter that wants to usher in a New Motown sound. He attended high school with rapper Big Sean, who advised him to pursue music. Growing up in a rough neighborhood, TJ left Detroit to pursue aspirations of football, however, soon realized music is his real passion.
Donavann Langston Rimpsey “Vann” (Atlanta, GA/Nashville, TN) – As a R&B singer/songwriter, Vann seeks to change the game for Nashville with an urban sound that incorporates country and rock. He furthered his education at Middle Tennessee State University and earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Music Business. His proudest musical moment was receiving an ASCAP award in honor of Quincy Jones. He has opened for major R&B performers such as: Justine Skye, K. Michelle and Teyana Taylor.
Avalon Young (San Diego, CA) – Avalon is a singer-songwriter with rap, hip-hop, and R&B influences. Singing since birth and playing guitar since seven, the 23-year-old has been pursuing music as a professional career since 18. Avalon appeared on Season 15 of American Idol where she finished in the top eight.
Brionne Wright (Denver, CO) – Brionne is a neo-soul singer with Gospel influences that has been compared to India Arie. Her church background has led her to pursue music with raw, honest lyrics. Brionne has sung background for popular artists such as: Tye Tribbett, Blu Cantrell and Lalah Hathaway.
Kaila Sanders (Charlotte, NC) Kaila is an 18-year-old, R&B and gospel singer who left Charlotte to chase her dreams of becoming a star. Despite her young age, she is guided by her faith and is determined to give it her all.
Maya Milan Russell (Washington D.C./Baltimore, MD) – Maya Milan is a pop-soul singer who believes that the time is now to make something of her music career. Hailing from Baltimore, Maya’s family and emotional struggles have pushed her to give it all. She jump started her career as a background singer for Keith Sweat.
Macy Holden “Macyy Reign” (Baton Rouge, LA) – Originally from New Orleans by way of Baton Rouge, Macyy Reign embodies R&B, neo-soul, and rap. Macyy has been singing since two and writing songs since ten with her church as her training ground. Her dream is to become one of the top music artists of all time.
Joshua Goods “Tate Kobang” (Baltimore, MD) – Tate Kobang is hungry to triumph as a rap/R&B artist after growing up on the mean streets of Baltimore. Losing both of his parents then becoming homeless has strengthened Tate to be an authentic and truth-to-lyrics artist. The motivation of his seven young children as well as having multi-platinum rapper Nelly as his mentor pushes him to succeed.