Spokane soul singer Allen Stone, whose music career began in Seattle, will represent Washington State on NBC’s new show “American Song Contest” (8-10 p.m. Mondays) during the episode airing April 11 .
Stone’s involvement has a lot to do with his roots in Evergreen State.
The show, an Americanized version of the international hit ‘Eurovision Song Contest’, marks Stone’s first foray into a series of reality TV music contests, although similar shows have tried to recruit the previously born and raised Washingtonian. .
“‘American Idol’ called me when I was 22,” said Stone, 35, who lives in Spokane. “I had just started having gigs and I remember saying, ‘I don’t want to do this. I was young, maybe ignorant, but I thought, well, “American Idol” is for people who have nothing going for them, no job in the music industry.
Stone sees “American Song Contest” as something different, more akin to NCAA March Madness than a talent discovery show. And it helped that he got to grips with “Eurovision” during the pandemic, part of which he spent in his wife Tara Lawson’s native Australia. “For them, it was like the Super Bowl,” Stone said of Australians and “Eurovision.”
“What made me say yes to this was being able to represent Washington State, the state I was born and raised in, my father was born and raised in, my great -dad. There is a line of Washingtonians that I come from,” he said. “I can post my original song on a TV show that hopefully millions of people will see.”
“American Song Contest” features artists from 50 states, five US territories and Washington, DC, performing original songs and vying for viewer votes, often on elaborate sets. The performers are a mix of newcomers, established touring acts like Stone, and industry veterans (Michael Bolton represents Connecticut; Macy Gray represents Ohio). Kelly Clarkson and Snoop Dogg host the episodes live.
During an NBC press conference before the show began, Clarkson called Stone “super talented” and executive producer Audrey Morrissey explained that most “Eurovision” artists are signed to a house. records – and executives wanted the US show to reflect that. . Stone is with the ATO records; his 2011 self-titled album peaked at No. 2 on iTunes’ R&B/soul charts, and he’s released three albums since, including November’s acoustic effort, “Apart.”
“Just through outreach and different discussions, people were interested, Allen being one of them,” Morrissey said, explaining the recruitment process. “Speaking with him and his team, it’s a big deal that he never left the state.
“I mean, there’s been a lot of opportunity and a lot of encouragement for him to go and come to other places to maybe get closer to the epicenter of the music industry so to speak. , but he never left, doesn’t want to, has no plans on it.
Stone, who grew up in Chewelah, in rural Stevens County, northwest of Spokane, didn’t divulge details about her performance appearance, but said her song was called “A Bit of Both”, co-written with Lakewood artist Tyler Acord, aka Lophiile.
“This tune speaks to the duality of how humans basically possess everything good and bad, nice and bad, possess everything at once,” Stone said.
“What interests me is that Washington is a very dual state,” he continued. “We come from loggers and miners and janitors and fishermen, and yet we grew up to this place that has Amazon and Microsoft and Boeing and Costco, all these giant Fortune 500 companies, but we still have that element of hands in the – dirty type of people, especially on the east side of the state I live in.
Earlier this year, Stone filmed his biography/introduction for “American Song Contest” in Seattle.
“I moved to Seattle when I was 21 and my career started there and I was able to gain a national name in Seattle,” he said. “When it comes to my music career, I’m definitely a Seattle guy.”
Stone says he filmed segments at Emerald City Guitars in Pioneer Square (which he called “a big guitar store in town that I’ve spent way too much money at in my life”) and at the Edgewater hotel on Elliott Bay, where Stone had one of his first gigs. And, of course, the production took the beautiful shot of the city from Kerry Park on Queen Anne Hill.
Although the series has “competition” in its title, Stone said he isn’t too invested in the competition aspect of the series.
“I just want to beat California,” he said. “I’m totally kidding, being facetious.” Stone laughed before expressing her doubts about competition in the arts.
“Competition in art is a little janky for me. To represent Washington State and perform a song I wrote is an honor. And if the rest of America likes it and that buy votes and have me play that song again in a later episode, so I’m excited,” he said. “I don’t think the competitive spirit serves you too well in art, whereas it can be in other commercial or sporting practices.”
While the winner of the “American Song Contest” has bragging rights, it doesn’t come with a prize beyond that, although Stone did have a tongue-in-cheek request for the show’s producers.
“If I can smoke with Snoop Dogg, then win-win, baby,” he said.
“If I happen to make it to the end, it’s a prize I’d take to my grave. I’d keep the joint, only smoke a little, put it in a trophy case and I would hang it on my wall next to any of the plaques I have, because I don’t have a platinum record.
You can watch Stone, Snoop and other songwriters compete in “American Song Contest” April 11 on NBC.