Let the Sing-off Begin!

Radio Disney kicks off Season 4 of its N.B.T. talent contest

Oct 26, 2011 | By TFK Kid Reporter Jack Wetzel
RADIO DISNEY/TODD WAWRYCHUK

Who will be Radio Disney’s Next Big Thing? On October 16, Radio Disney and Disney Channel launched Season 4 of the N.B.T. (Next Big Thing) competition. N.B.T. is a music contest in which five young, unsigned artists compete for a chance to have their single released by Disney Music Group. New to the talent showcase this year are elimination rounds. Listeners can vote for their favorite artists either online or by text. Tune in to Radio Disney this Friday, October 28, to find out which four contestants made it to Round 2. Those artists will get to meet pop sensation Cody Simpson for a special mentoring and jam session.

TIME For Kids was invited to speak with this season’s N.B.T. artists at the Radio Disney studio, in Burbank, California. Read on to learn more about this season’s performers and how the contest has already transformed their lives.

Life-Changing Times

With equal time in the spotlight, all of the N.B.T. artists will have a chance to build their fan bases and share their singing talents with the world. For 16-year-old singer/songwriter Ladina Spence, being a part of the contest “feels like a dream come true,” she told TFK. She says that she and the rest of the contestants are grateful to be chosen for this unique opportunity.

Even though they are in competition with one another, they still love hanging out together and enjoy each other’s music. ”It’s cool being able to make new friends out of the N.B.T. artists,” says Tay Barton, 16, a country singer who grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah. Tay and the other young musicians have had a lot of fun seeing their singles released on iTunes and hearing their songs on the radio.

They’re also getting to experience what it’s like to be on the road. N.B.T. kicked off its first-ever, eight-city concert tour in September. A month into the tour, many of the contestants admit that they still get nervous performing in front of crowds. “I felt like I was having a heart attack once,” exclaimed England native Chris Bourne, 18, from the rock band Hollywood Ending.

But the support from family and friends has been amazing. “They know how much I’ve wanted to do something with music my entire life,” says Shealeigh, a pop singer from Chicago, Illinois. “I couldn’t have asked for better people to surround me through this experience.” At 13 years old, Shealeigh is this season’s youngest N.B.T. contestant.

Follow Your Dreams

Since their N.B.T. journey began, all of the artists have improved their performance skills, and more importantly, gained more confidence. “Each one has grown, not only as an artist, but as a person,” says N.B.T. host Jake Whetter. Many past N.B.T. performers, like pop band Allstar Weekend, have gone on to have great success, even if they didn’t win the contest.

When asked what tips he would give to kids who are interested in pursuing a career in music, 14-year-old pop singer Zack Montana advises: “Never give up. Even if somebody says you’re not good, always keep trying. Just keep trying and you will succeed.”

The N.B.T. winner will announced live at a concert headlined by Cody Simpson on December 7, and will be featured on the Disney Channel on December 9.