Congratulations to the Winner of America’s Got Talent! What a season of talent. With the season being over, I’m sure many of you will be like me and need something to fill the AGT void. That’s why I’m pleased to let you know about a new book about America’s Got Talent called: Inside AGT: The Untold Stories of America’s Got Talent(Kindle Edition).
This book is a delicious mix of behind the scenes insights from past contestants and updates from some of your favorite America’s Got Talent acts. Once I started reading it I couldn’t put it down. If you’re a fan of the show, then you’ll find this book a delightful read.
I’m not sure how the author of the book got access to so many past contestants (more than 65), but it must have taken a really extraordinary effort. With that many, you’re sure to find updates on some of your favorites. Here are a few examples of what you’ll find in the book:
* Which runner-up says he contemplated suicide after a painful spinal injury
* How accused “fake soldier” Timothy Poe ended up saving the life of a stranger in his hometown
* Why one winner gave away all of his prize money
* Which finalist used to rob people’s houses “for fun” before appearing on the show
* How one act got tricked into moving to Branson, Missouri by a fake show promoter
* Which winner forgot to claim his $1 million prize
I don’t say this about many books, but Inside AGTis a must read for any fan of AGT. Yes, if you’re reading this site, you’re probably a fan.
Once you get a chance to read it, I hope you’ll come back and let us know what you think in the comments. Who was missing from the book?
Whilst browsing around on YouTube for a clip of Catapult’s performance on last week’s premiere, I noticed something odd: almost every video of them posted had a slew of comments from angry viewers claiming that they had “ripped off” season 6 runner-up Silhouettes. Here’s a video of them to jog your memory:
A few overseas viewers also accused Catapult of copying Attraction, the winner of the most recent season of Britain’s Got Talent:
Now while I agree that all three acts are very similar, I also think that there’s very, very few acts on any of the Talent franchises that are truly original anymore – I think it’s all been done before, and everyone’s just trying to make their mark and somehow put a fresh spin on their act. So to really accuse any of the three of “ripping off” one another? Not really fair, IMO. If you’re going to call out Catapult for copying Silhouettes, then you may as well call out Lightwire Theater from last season for copying Team iLuminate from season 6, and Angela Hoover for copying season 6’s Melissa Villasenor. Almost every act shares some similarities with a previous act.
Truth be told, I was never really wowed by what Silhouettes did – just seemed like a lot of running from place to place making shapes while some schmaltzy song played. What I like about Catapult, though, is that they actually create pictures that move, and tend to tell a story – Silhouettes seemed like they just went with a theme, as opposed to an actual narrative with a beginning, middle, and end. Haven’t really had a chance to compare either of the two to Attraction, beyond the video I posted above, but all three appear to have different strengths & weaknesses. But what do you think?
Remember the hip-hop violinist from AGT Season 5? She made it to the quarter-finals where she was ultimately eliminated. However, that wasn’t the end for her.
Before I get into that though, here is her Top 48 performance from Season 5.
This probably wasn’t my favorite performance, but it was pretty cool. However, leaving America’s Got Talent early in the competition ended up being a good thing for her. Devin Graham, a cinemetographer, approached Stirling about making a YouTube video with him, and from there, her career took off. The YouTube channel she started in 2007 took off after that video debuted, and has done very well since then. As of this month, she has over 100 million views, and her music has been on Last FM and Pandora. In addition, it is anticipated that she will release a CD later this year.
In an article written about her in BYU Magazine, where she is currently an undergrad, Stirling made this interesting statement after she posted her first video on 2011 on YouTube:
My music quadrupled in sales overnight. YouTube did more for me than America’s Got Talent. I realized there’s something to this.
This shows just how powerful YouTube is. I think it’s pretty cool that she was able to find a lot of success, even though she didn’t make it to the finals of AGT. It sounds like that was the catalyst for her career, but that YouTube is really what helped her become popular. Has anyone heard of any other former AGT contestants that were YouTube sensations as well?
The article also provided some interesting insight into what she’s been up to, as well as how she almost missed out on learning the violin. Apparently, her older sister wanted to play an instrument, and so Stirling wanted to as well. All her parents had was a trumpet, but she really wanted to play a violin. So they let her, although they could only afford for one 15 minute lesson a week, which some of the teachers scoffed at, believing there was no way she could learn. She obviously proved them wrong!
Her videos feature her in a variety of situations and places, including in Africa and New Zealand. I spent some time watching some of her videos tonight, and I have to say, I’m very impressed. They are so much fun, and this girl has some serious talent. I’ve never seen a violinist like her! I posted a few of her videos below, including the one filmed in Africa. It was the first time many of the people in the video had seen a violin. Whenever her album gets released, I think I will purchase it. She seems to be very successful, and is also on track to graduate from Brigham Young University with a degree in therapeutic recreation in 2013.
Now let’s take a look at Season Five’s winner, Michael Grimm.
If a little a refresher about his tenure on America’s Got Talent is needed, here is his audition that sent him straight to Vegas. I have to admit, just like Piers Morgan says in this clip, I wasn’t expecting much when I first saw him, but boy, I was blown away when he started playing and singing. He definitely deserved advancing to the next round.
And here Grimm is during the finale (singing “When a Man Loves a Woman”. Love that song.)
There was some debate as to whether Grimm should have beat out Jackie Evancho, he was charming and seemed like an overall nice guy. I had no qualms with him winning. Personally, I found it quite touching that a portion of the winnings went to his grandparents, whose home was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.
So what has Grimm been up to since winning? Well, his self-titled album was released in March of 2011, which made it to #13 on both the US Pop Music Charts and the Billboard Top 200. Not too shabby. Toward the end of 2011, Grimm opened for Stevie Nicks autumn tour.
After doing some research, it seems as if Grimm is doing just fine. I mean, I couldn’t find any juicy gossip…but that’s probably a good thing, right? Last November, he had a two week gig with his own show at the Flamingo in Las Vegas, and starting in April of this year, he became a permanent headliner at the Ovation Room in Las Vegas.
Grimm’s grandparent’s home was recently finished, which was an exciting moment for him. I’m glad that he is a man of his word and was able to do that for them.
I don’t know, I just like seeing people remain successful after winning a competition like this. What I like even more is when it doesn’t go to the winner’s head, and I don’t see any evidence of that happening to Grimm. What was your opinion on him? Have you bought his most recent album?
“The Michael Phelps of the Competition”. This is the title judge Piers Morgan gave Usually when I hear the word opera, I tune out (is that bad?) So, Boyd wasn’t necessarily my favorite from the season or winner of America’s Got Talent, but that doesn’t discredit his talent at all. The man has an amazing voice. Nonetheless, the following clip of him singing “Somewhere” is definitely my favorite from the season:
He sure knows how to put emotion into his performances, eh?
As I said, I’m not big into opera, but it wasn’t difficult to find out what has been keeping Boyd busy since his time on AGT. I was a little bit surprised, as his most recent endeavor has very little to do with music but more on that later.
Boyd released his first CD a little more than six months after his AGT victory in 2009 and made it into the Billboard Top 200 for awhile. His most notable performances have been for President Obama, and former president’s George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. While dealing with his musical career, Boyd remains the co-owner of an insurance agency and the Vice President of sales for a company called Voluntary Benefit Services.
But what he is most recently up to? Well, Boyd has gotten into politics. Although he dropped out of the election for the Missouri House seat in order to get himself healthier, he recently announced that he is running as the Republican candidate for 149th district in Missouri. In addition, Boyd has lost over 65 pounds and ready for the election.
Successful musical career, weight-loss advocate, owner of an insurance company, and now politician? What’s Boyd going to do next? Only time will tell, but he doesn’t seem to forget where he came from and how lucky he is to be where he is:
My voice has opened the doors to a lot of avenues that a normal little African-American, Southeast Missouri, poor boy never would have gotten to see. It’s a pretty great little American dream story. 1
1. Boyd, Neal. “The Sunday Interview: Neal E. Boyd is raising his voice.” By Lucas Presson. Southeast Missourian. 2011. <http://www.semissourian.com/story/1764132.html>
After a post written about the “The Singing Sisters”, Christina and Ali, from Season 5 of America’s Got Talent resurfaced on our Twitter account, a follower asked for an update on them.
And just for anyone who is unfamiliar with Christina and Ali, here’s a little background on them:
These two beautiful girls from Idaho Falls made it to the top 10 on Season 5 of America’s Got Talent as a singing duo. One of the things that made them stand out is that they both have cystic fibrosis. After the season, they went on a 25-city tour with AGT. Christina has a “huge voice” and Ali is a “vocal Swiss Army knife,” according to their website, and together, were a vocal phenomenon. Here is a video of them on America’s Got Talent:
These girls truly have an amazing story of overcoming such obstacles. Since America’s Got Talent, they have written and produced a song called “Love is Gonna Find You” in 2011 with a Dove Award-winning and Grammy-nominated producer/songwriting team that worked with big names like Kelly Clarkson and Michael Jackson, which was featured in their 5-song EP that was released this past Valentine’s Day. Sadly, their older sister passed away last year, and the girls sang at her funeral. I can’t even imagine how hard that would be!
Christina just finished up her sophomore year of high school, and Ali most recently was taking a break from school at Brigham Young University-Idaho to help promote the EP. One of the seconds on the EP is an anti-bullying song, in honor of a friend who committed suicide in 2009 because of bullying. They have been interviewed by several magazines, including Twist Magazine and Seventeen earlier this year. In the Seventeen article, the girls talked about Cystic Fibrosis, and how it affects their every day life:
Ali: For me personally, I get really worn out and really tired throughout the day. It’s a struggle sometimes to remember all the medicine I have to take. Every time I eat, I have to take pills and I often have to undergo treatments. It’s a lot of time and hard work.
Christina: I always have a lot of treatments to do and I like to hang out with my friends which is hard when I have treatments.
For those unfamiliar with what Cystic Fibrosis is, it’s a genetic disease that affects digestion, weight gain, and the lungs. The lungs have a rally thick and sticky mucus that builds up and can cause infection and a general decline in function of the years. In the Twist Magazine article, the girls said that the disease affects their singing voices at times. The fact that they singing, despite that added challenge, shows what strong and talented girls they are.
These girls have every reason in the world to complain about the life card they’ve been dealt, but they seem to keep going forward with a great attitude, and seem to having a lot of success recently in their music career. I listened to a few of the songs on the EP, and it is a very uplifting, positive album with a good message. I really hope to see more of these two girls, because really, they are great role models of overcoming trials and just being good people over all. They are great examples, especially to young girls everywhere. I’ve obviously never met them, but beyond their incredible voices, seem very sweet. I’d love to talk with these girls someday!
Be sure to check out their website here for updates, pictures, videos, and more. Their album can be downloaded on iTunes here. And, to finish off, here is the music video of their song, Love is Gonna Find You:
Before she was even a teenager, Bianca Ryan was the first winner of America’s Got Talent six years ago. Because of versatility in music choices and powerful voice, Simon Cowell once said she was “potentially one of the best singers [he has] ever heard in [his life.]” Now, six years later, what is Ryan doing now as a 17 year old?
Well first, lets visit her journey on America’s Got Talent:
(compare first season to the current season..SO much has changed, agreed? Personally, I like the judges and host a lot better now.)
That girl has some serious talent. Probably why she won, right? And the fact that she was 11 is even more incredible. What was I doing at 11? Um, I think I was performing in my 6th grade musical rendition of Tom Sawyer. Not quite the same.
Soon after winning, Ryan produced and released a self-titled album that debuted at #57 on the Billboard Top 200. Although that is the only CD she has released since AGT, she has still kept busy. She has released two EPs and done a little bit of touring.
Currently, Ryan is now 17-years-old and attending a performing arts school in Philadelphia. She is also preparing for a starring role in a feature film titled “We Be Kings.” Ryan has definitely had a good career so far, and is on the road to even more stardom. Quincy Jones, a global music producer, said that he believes Ryan will be “The next revolution in music.”
I really like her. She has genuine talent (unlike a lot of popular musicians that are her same age). I hope to see more of her in the future!
And just for fun, here is one of her most recent songs, “In My Head”.
Kevin Skinner was the winner of AGT Season 4. I have to admit, I really didn’t watch much of this season. However, when I saw that the winner was a country singer, I was excited to investigate more.
So I started out with the song that won him the title of AGT Season 4’s winner. Sadly, I wasn’t super impressed. What did you think?
However, I decided to listen to the audition that got him into the competition. Much better. I really enjoyed this performance. As I already mentioned, I’m a huge country music fan, and he definitely did this song justice.
Skinner reminds me of a mixture of Garth Brooks and a more subdued version of Travis Tritt. His voice is easy to listen to, and has a nice gritty tone to it. However, I had my doubts about how successful he has been since AGT. I listened to some of the songs he released on his first CD back in 2010, and none of them seemed familiar. It was also hard to find information on what exactly he’s been up too. I did, however, find this audio interview, done on February 3rd, 2012. Skinner released another album called Long Ride, which apparently is climbing the charts (somehow I missed it, I guess). The interview was pretty interesting, and Skinner seems like a real down to earth kind of guy. When Grant Scarsdale, the guy interviewing asked him if being on AGT changed him, he said:
Not really, I still live in the same place I lived, and still drive the same old pick-up truck. I know some of the people out in LA, some of the judges there on the panel. Some of the advice they gave me was just always be yourself, keep on doing what you’re doing, don’t change, you know. I guess the people kind of realized I was so country and my roots were so deep, they were going to have a hard time changing me anyways.
Something I’ve noticed with some of the winners of AGT is that fame really doesn’t seem to go to their heads. I like that.
This interview also gave some insight into Skinner’s plans for this coming year:
Just a lot of the same, a lot of hard work goes into this business. Gotta stay out there playing shows here and all over . . . Done a lot of concerts, just doing a whole lot of the same. Going around getting to meet my fans and playing music for them — that’s why they voted for me!
So while we might not see him starring in a movie or winning CMA’s Entertainer of the Year award (yet), he seems content with his success thus far.