Four of our very own island artists compete against names like Michael Bolton, Sisqó and Jewel in the new NBC show.
American Song Contest is an American music reality competition television series based on the Eurovision Song Contest. Artists from all 50 states, five U.S. territories and the nation's capital perform original songs across different genres as they compete for America's votes in an eight-week live event that will crown one grand prize winner.
Amoung the competitive contestants is Jason J of Guam, Bronson Varde of Hawaii, Tenelle Luafalemana of American Samoa and Mathew Sablan of Northern Mariana Islands.
Representing American Samoa, Tenelle Luafalemana has been described by many as “a breath of fresh air.” Tenelle isn’t exactly sure when her love for singing first started, but suggests that growing up with a big family, where talent shows are more competitive than the “X-Factor” itself, may have well done it. Tenelle describes her home of Samoa as magical and as a child, recalls listening to artists such as Lauryn Hill, Fiji, Whitney Houston, Betty Wright and Aswad. She’s honored to represent American Samoa, her family and the entirety of her people. You can watch Tenelles preformance above.
Representing Guam, Jason J. is an independent artist, songwriter and father of two known for his distinct vocals and blend of island reggae and alternative music.
Since Jason first started writing original music in 2004, he has now gone on to play multiple national tours and large reggae festivals. Jason come from a traditional Filipino family and spent the first 23 years of his life surrounded by Guam culture and its musical influences. You can watch Jason's preformance below:
Representing Hawaii, Bronson Varde is a singer/songwriter who grew up listening to Hawaiian and island reggae music termed “Jawaiian” by the locals. This style of music heavily influenced him as a songwriter and he still incorporates it in his music today.
Varde has gained a local following with original music released under the band name No Pressure. He continues to follow his passion for music and songwriting in hopes that one day his songs will be heard around the world. He feels he’s not only representing himself in this competition, but a whole state and culture. You can watch Bronsons preformance below:
Representing Northern Mariana Islands, Matthew Sablan, known musically as Sabyu, is a Pacific Islander singer, songwriter, producer, engineer, artist mentor and multi-instrumentalist. He is known for his eclectic music style combining island roots and Stateside influences alike, blending reggae, rock, soul, hip-hop, funk, jazz and world music.
Sabyu mentors young artists with a Seattle-based non-profit, Totem Star, guiding aspiring youth along their own music journeys. He makes music to bring all walks of life together in the name of love, spirit and humanity, and wants to let everyone know that even if you come from a small island, you can make big waves around the world. You can watch his preformance below:
The four island artists are still in the competition today and all hope to make it all the way to show that small island musicians can hold big dreams that do come true.