Tonight, a very different kind of reality singing competition debuts on the Hub. On "Majors & Minors," 12 talented young performers get the chance to be mentored by some of the biggest and most established artists in music, including Leona Lewis, Jordin Sparks, Avril Lavigne, Sean Kingston, One Republic's Ryan Tedder, Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson and will.i.am. The kids range in age kids ages 10-16, and though no one is ever voted off the series, one lucky kid will score a recording deal with RCA/Jive and be featured in a cross-country concert tour.
The series' first mentor is Grammy-winner Brandy, and we were lucky enough to talk to the R&B songbird about the show and even got some early news on her buzzed-about upcoming album.
"I was blown away by the idea and they are celebrating kids and their art and their journey into becoming, you know, the artists they already are within, and it just took me back to my youth, 15-years-old trying to become a great artist and I immediately wanted to get involved," Brandy told MTV News about the show. "When I met the kids I was just completely blown away, just really moved very deeply. And from there, I just wanted to stay as involved as I could because I wanted to be a part of their experience. I actually wanted to see them grow and how far they will go and how far they have come, so far, has been so amazing."
The pop star admitted that, for her, one of the reasons she was so drawn to "Majors & Minors" was because it celebrates the contestants' talent and provides constructive criticism without being overly judgmental, something many other reality competitions thrive on. It's a topic Brandy has plenty of experience with, having been a judge on "America's got Talent" and a contestant on "Dancing With The Stars."
Read on for more of our interview and for an exclusive behind-the-scenes clip from "Majors & Minors."
"A lot of times when people feel judged or feel like they are in competition with another person, we can kind of go into a shell," Brandy said. "So in a way, we want to protect that with these shows. It’s not about a winner or a loser. Everybody is a winner, everybody can be their own individual artist and everybody can succeed. And if it’s not about competition then it’s about celebrating everyone in their own way because nobody can be you."
Exclusive behind-the-scenes clip of "Majors & Minors":
Having begun her own career at the tender age of 15, Brandy was able to relate to the kids and their dreams, saying, "Absolutely, I saw myself in them. And I think that was the connection for me. It was to see myself all over again in the faces of these children and like, wow, I really wanted this and I can tell that they really wanted this and still really want this and they are just inspired."
The inspiration couldn't have come at a better time for Brandy, who recently signed to RCA Records and is hard at work on her first album since 2008's Human with a host of big-name producers and songwriters, including Jim Jonsin (Beyonce, Lil Wayne), Bangladesh (Ke$ha, Nicki Minaj), Timbaland, Rodney Jerkins, Sean Garrett (Usher, Britney Spears) and Ester Dean (Katy Perry, Rihanna).
"I’m really excited about it," she said of the album. "It’s fun to take a new journey and really get back to my R&B roots. I really want to create something for the fans that they not only can relate to but they can feel like it’s different. I challenged myself to create a different sound for myself but keep it in the R&B lane."
The as-yet-untitled album will drop next year. In the meantime, catch Brandy on "Majors and Minors" tonight at 8 PM on the Hub.