Two Belmont commercial music students and an alumnus have won a reality contest to form part of a multi-genre singing group that has significant music business powerhouse support. Jeston Cade (’10) and juniors KellyeAnn Rodgers and Ben Vredevelt are half of a super group under the direction of music mogul Johnny Wright, who has managed the Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, Janet Jackson and Britney Spears, among dozens of other groups and solo artists.
Wright chose Cade, Rodger and Vredevelt to form his next super group through a web-reality show series sponsored by AT&T and AOL’s music platform, Cambio. Participants uploaded video auditions during the interactive talent search. Wright narrowed the pool to 20 contestants, who responded to weekly challenges by posting videos to illustrate their artistic prowess, business savvy and passion.
“I wouldn’t be where I am if it were not for coming to Belmont,” said Cade, who graduated in 2010 with a degree in commercial voice. He had been playing around Nashville while working at a restaurant and clothing retailer until earning a spot in Wright’s super group. “It got me in the right state of mind for my musicianship. I learned so much about myself just by being here at Belmont.”
The contestants were given flip phones to record their challenges, such as creating choreography. The collective submissions were edited into episodes broadcast on http://onthespot.cambio.com/. They also used Skype to interact with judges.
“That is what we do at Belmont is prepare them for the best competitions in the world,” said Sandra Dudley, assistant professor of commercial voice. “It is every teacher’s dream to do things like this and achieve these kinds of goals. I just feel so proud of them. That is why you teach: to see them do great things.”
Eleven finalists flew to Hollywood, Calif. to compete in Wright’s Boot Camp of intense rehearsals, dance choreography, vocal lessons, media and fitness training before the super group of six was selected.
“Belmont is the real reason why we excelled in this competition. It was so incredibly helpful to be surrounded by musical students all the time. When I need help with an arrangement or someone to play an instrument, I could just walk into a room and find them,” Rodgers said. “When we got to boot camp, it was almost like another day at school because the kinds of things we did are what we did everyday in class.”
Now living together in a home in Orlando, Fla., the unnamed super group works from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. nightly to prepare for their upcoming label showcases. Although the group includes six members, Rodgers said it is a “revolutionary concept” recording songs as duets and in multiple combinations of singers across different genres.
“One thing with six people is that it takes a lot of collaborations and cooperation,” she said.