Music competition coming to Eastern campus

Angelica Cataldo, Entertainment Reporter

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Submitted|The Daily Eastern News Next week, the second season of “Sound Stage” will be filmed at Eastern in the Doudna Fine Arts Center with the help of WEIU-TV and the television producers and camera crews from Chicago and St. Louis.

Submitted|The Daily Eastern News
Next week, the second season of “Sound Stage” will be filmed at Eastern in the Doudna Fine Arts Center with the help of WEIU-TV and the television producers and camera crews from Chicago and St. Louis.

After having a good time working on a documentary about a musician and composer in Utah, Producer Roy Wells and his partner Ryan Wiggins got the idea to take their music initiative to a higher level. That is when the idea for the music competition program, “Song Stage Midwest” was born.

“After (the documentary) we thought it would be fun to do more features or documentaries like this,” Wiggins said. “We (wanted) to do it in more of a show format, and Roy thought it’d be fun to put (the musicians) head-to-head.”

The second season of “Song Stage” will be filmed Friday, Sept. 9 at Eastern in the Doudna Fine Arts Center with the help of WEIU-TV, television producers, and camera crews from Chicago and St. Louis.

In the spring, the finale will be broadcasted on regional PBS stations. Wiggins will be hosting the live finale show.

“(This year) is going to be a bigger production, a much bigger venue than last time with more crew (members) and more cameras,” Wells said. “Everything will be a little bigger this season.”

“Song Stage” is a music competition, similar to “American Idol” and “The Voice,” but the focus is not just on vocals.

This competition takes into consideration songwriting, singing and the contestant’s ability to play instruments.

“(American Idol) is almost like a karaoke competition,” Wells said.  “I was adamant about having original music (for this show).”

Wiggins said people need to be exceptional songwriters, singers and musicians to do well on the show.

“We want people who have the whole package,” Wiggins said.

Eight contestants will be showing their musical talent during the week and will perform during the finale that will be filmed Friday, Sept. 9.

Interviews and other behind-the-scenes features will be filmed all throughout the week until the live performance.

“We get to know these artists and know why they play music and where their inspirations come from,” Wiggins said.

Before coming to Eastern, Wells and Wiggins put up advertisements online for submissions to enter the contest.

Wiggins said because of the wide audience they reached in season one, many of this year’s submissions came from people who saw the show last season.

“We have a really diverse group that brings something unique to the table,” Wells said.

Genres featured on the show range from hip-hop all the way to country music.

All eight contestants will perform two songs and will be evaluated, not by judges, but by the entire audience.

“An audience is a better indication (of what act should win). At the end of the day the listeners decide if they like it or not,” Wells said. “(We) get to see how you can impact people through music and connect with the audience.”

Wiggins, as the host, will find ways to get the audience involved with what happens on stage, as well as interact with the performers on and off-camera.

Wells said there is a comedic element to the show itself, especially when Wiggins tries to get the performers and the audience out of their comfort zones.

“(We do) weird stuff with the artists to let their personalities come out a little bit. (We) just do a lot of goofy questions; some stuff related to music and some stuff related to nothing,” Wiggins said. “We have fun and poke fun at the artists and even the audience. It’s all very interactive.”

Wiggins said that this season will be a memorable show that he hopes audience members and performers will look back on.

“We take the music very seriously and everything else not very seriously,” Wells said. “We try not to take ourselves too seriously. We have fun with it and let the music speak for itself.”

The live audience viewing and voting for the finale of “Song Stage” will be filmed at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 9. Tickets can be purchased online at www.eiu.edu/doudna for $7.

Angelica Cataldo can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]