“He’s a soft-spoken kid with a huge rocker singing voice, surprising stage presence, and even more surprising sex appeal.” – Billboard
“This David Cassidy-haired, rock ‘n’ blues belter was the only truly memorable or unique contestant of the 10 total who sang on Sunday…Jesse had it all: sex appeal, soul, swag, and a strong set of pipes.” – Rolling Stone
ReverbNation Artist Jesse Kinch was one of the premiere artists to perform on ABC’s new music competition show, Rising Star. The show boasts being the first of its kind, an interactive singing competition where fans vote via a smartphone app, with a small percentage of votes allotted for three celebrity guest judges. GRAMMY-award-winning vocalist Josh Groban hosts, and audiences watch as stars like Jesse emerge from behind a giant digital wall that lights up as fans and judges cast their votes. The grand prize? A recording contract with Capitol Records.
When we sat down to talk to Jesse, we wanted to understand what it’s really like for a musician to be a part of a reality TV show. Jesse provided some perspective on the selection process, his initial reservations and what he thinks sets this music competition apart from others.
Tell us about the selection process for Rising Star.
I’ve been playing music my entire life, and before Rising Star I was a full-time musician. I spent a lot of time writing and performing music but never really sought out opportunities to be on a reality show. An ABC Executive actually found a video of me on my YouTube channel and invited me to a private audition for Rising Star on the East Coast. I auditioned for the executives with ‘I Put a Spell on You,’ and after that, they invited me to come out to LA. I performed four or five more songs for a panel of judges and then was told I’d be on the show.
What was your mindset going into it?
I went into the whole audition process with the mentality of “I’m going to go down there and do my best, but I’m going to be myself, if I can’t be myself I don’t want to do it.”
Did you have any reservations about being on a music competition show?
I’ve always been very wary of reality TV shows and how they operate. What seemed different about Rising Star was that it was more democratic, because the audience has more power than the ‘expert judges.’ Rising Star also offers more freedom to artists compared to other shows. We can choose our own songs as long as they’re cleared to perform for TV. Basically we provide a list of the songs we’d like to perform and they let us know if we have the go ahead – they don’t choose for us.
So if you win the show, you get a recording contract. But what happens if you don’t win?
The greatest honor of being on the show is the opportunity perform for millions of people every week, performing songs that I believe in. Of course, it’s every artist’s dream to be signed to a label, and being recognized by one as prominent as Capitol Records would be great. Even if I don’t win, being on the show has given me immense exposure. That exposure alone could lead to so many things, and it’s already opened some doors. I’m looking forward to the opportunities that come whether I win or not.
Tell us more about your one-on-one coaching session with Josh Groban. Was it a real session, or just a quick shot for the camera?
On TV, they only show a 20 second portion of the session, when in reality, we had a 30 minute session with Josh. He’s such a great human being with a great personality. We talked a bit about my background, and he learned about my philosophy with music. I sang one of my songs for him, and he gave me some coaching and feedback. One of the things he said was that my voice was like two different animals – I have a soft speaking voice, but a powerful singing voice – like a “beast on a leash.” That’s the type of stuff that you don’t get to see on-camera.
In addition to Jesse, seven other ReverbNation Artists will also take the stage on Rising Star:
Megan Tibbits – North Hollywood, California – Indie/Pop/R&B
Sarah Darling – Nashville, Tennesse – Country
Lisa Punch – Georgetown, Guyana – Pop/R&B/Reggae
Macy Kate – St. Petersburg, Florida – Pop/Rock
Gabrielle Nicole – Cleveland, Ohio – Pop/Hip-Hop/R&B
Will Roth – Dallas, Texas – Folk/Rock
April Lockhart – Nashville, Tennessee – Pop
We’ll be watching Jesse and other ReverbNation Artists on ABC’s Rising Star this Sunday at 9/8c.