With two qualifying rounds done, American Song Contest now rolls into heat three, continuing its search to crown the state or territory with the Best Original Song.
So far, representatives from Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Kentucky safely through to the semi-finals. Twelve more acts will take to the ASC stage in heat three hoping to join them.
NBC has shared snippets of their rehearsals. While we wait to see the live performances, let’s get to know the latest batch of contestants a bit better.
American Song Contest: Heat Three Acts
Alabama — Ni/Co — “The Difference”
Ni/Co is a duo made up of Dani Brillhart (Ni) and Colton Jones (Co). They are excited to represent Alabama, as that is where the duo discovered their love for music and one another.
Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Dani found herself anchored to her urban and R&B roots while dancing, singing, and recording for some of the most prominent industry professionals. After living in Alabama, Mississippi, and Oregon, Colton spent his high school years in Ohio, where he was featured on season two of NBC’s The Sing Off (as part of the high school acapella group Eleventh Hour, which finished eighth).
They began gaining popularity in 2019 from their YouTube videos, which have accumulated millions of views. The pop duo has had their music featured on various networks, including the CW, VH1, NBC, BET, TNT, Starz and Freeform. Ni/Co’s growing audience has granted them attention and opportunities to work with brands such as Google, Adobe, Volkswagen, Reese’s, Dell, Chips Ahoy, Fender and more. They have an undying passion to perform and pull inspiration from wanting to touch the lives of everyone who hears their music.
Connect with Ni/Co here:
- TikTok: @ni.co_official
- Instagram: @ni.co_official
- Twitter: @ni_co_official
- Facebook: Ni.Co.officialmusic
- YouTube: Ni/Co
- Website: nicomusicofficial.com
Alaska — Jewel — “The Story”
Born and raised in Homer, Alaska, Jewel Kilcher is an American singer-songwriter, musician, actress, and author. She went from a girl who grew up with no running water on an Alaskan homestead, to a homeless teenager in San Diego, to an award-winning, multi-platinum recording artist who released one of the best-selling debuts of all time (her 1995 debut album Pieces of You, which went twelve-times platinum).
Throughout her career, Jewel has sold over 30 million albums worldwide and earned 26 music award nominations, including The Grammys, American Music Awards, MTV Awards, VH1 Awards, Billboard Music Awards and Country Music Awards, winning eight times. Jewel has been featured on the cover of TIME Magazine and Rolling Stone and performed on Saturday Night Live, at the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals, for Pope John Paul II and The Clinton Inaugural Ball. She is one of the few singer-songwriters to top the chart in every genre she has written for – folk, pop, club, country, standards, children’s and holiday music.
She is proud to represent the amazing lifestyle and spirit of Alaska.
Connect with Jewel here:
- TikTok: @jewel
- Instagram: @jewel
- Twitter: @jeweljk
- Facebook: jeweljk
- YouTube: Jewel
Colorado — Riker Lynch — “Feel the Love”
Born and raised in Littleton, Colorado, Riker Lynch knows a thing or two about being a multi-faceted entertainer. He’s played for a decade in the pop band R5 (with three of his siblings), toured with alt-rock duo The Driver Era and has his own trop-rock artist project, Riker and the Beachcombers. Riker opts to colour outside of the lines by blurring genres from rock to reggae to pop, ensuring that everything he touches is as unique as he is. Since touring across the globe and releasing a plethora of albums and songs, he’s garnered praise from the likes of Billboard and NME and accumulated a feverish fanbase.
After getting a taste of acting upon joining the cast of “Glee” for three seasons (seasons two to four) and accumulating over a dozen credits, Riker has completely immersed himself in every aspect of filmmaking. As a writer, director and producer, he solely created two short films – the comedy Lyft Me Up and the sci-fi comedy Aliens on Halloween.
Riker is so excited to represent the good vibes that Colorado brings to the world with its beautiful nature combined with a great urban vibe.
Connect with Riker Lynch here:
- TikTok: @rikerlynch
- Instagram: @rikerlynch
- Twitter: @rikerlynch
- Facebook: RikerLynch
- YouTube: rikerlynch
- Website: rikerlynch.com
Delaware — Nitro Nitra — “Train”
Nitro Nitra is a soul-rock singer and has been singing since before she could walk. After moving away, Nitro experienced a spiritual awakening in 2018 that led her to come back to her roots in Delaware. She first performed as Nitro Nitra in 2021 and since then has released an EP, visual album and two singles.
Nitro’s goal as a musician is to create a shared experience with her fans where they can open their minds to new levels of existence and awakenings.
Nitro Nitra is excited to represent Delaware, where she began her musical journey.
- TikTok: @nitronitra1111
- Instagram: @nitronitra
- Facebook: nitronitra1111
- YouTube: NITRONITRA
- Website: nitronitra.com
Florida — Ale Zabala — “Flirt”
Alexa Zabala, known professionally as Ale Zabala, is a singer, songwriter, musician and dancer originally from Miami, and now calling Parkland, Florida, home. She’s a Latin pop artist as well as a writer for other singers, having started writing when she was 13.
Ale went to college for music business and met her first producer with whom she began writing all of her songs. She released her first single in 2019 and is constantly in music sessions writing for other artists and working on new musical projects.
Ale is ready to represent Florida, where she went to her first concert and to school to study music.
Connect with Ale Zabala here:
- TikTok: @alezabalamusica
- Instagram: @alezabalamusica
- Facebook: alezabala13
- Twitter: @alezabalamusica
- YouTube: Ale Zabala
Louisiana — Brittany Pfantz — “Now You Do”
Originally from DeRidder, Louisiana, Brittany Pfantz’s music is perfumed with the sounds she was raised on: Louisiana swamp pop, rock, gospel and down-in-your-gut soul. Her music has been described as “a little bit of everything, with some extra spice”. She parades her roots honestly, like the street bands of New Orleans, where she learned how to stay true to the music and to herself.
Brittany just finished recording her debut EP with Grammy Award-winning producer Jacquire King and is currently shopping the project and playing shows around Nashville.
She is representing Louisiana because, even though she now lives in Nashville, it will always be in her roots.
Connect with Brittany Pfantz here:
- TikTok: @brittanypfantz
- Instagram: @brittanypfantz
- Facebook: brittanypfantz
- YouTube: Brittany Pfantz
- Website: brittanypfantz.com
New Jersey — Brooke Alexx — “I Don’t Take Pictures Anymore”
Pop starlet meets girl next door in Brooke Alexx – an Asian-American songwriter, singer, performer, director and editor from Old Tappan, New Jersey. Brooke wields her creative powers to inspire young women, just as Taylor Swift inspired her to start writing songs of vulnerability and empowerment at age 13.
Her magnetic melodies, paired with her ever-relatable coming-of-age lyrics, have resonated more in 2021 than any other year through a familial-focused EP. Brooke’s confidence and contagious personality oozed into 2022 on the back of her first festival performance at Lollapalooza, a brand collaboration with IKEA and a sync license in Netflix’s film Resort to Love.
Connect with Brooke Alexx here:
- TikTok: @brookealexx
- Instagram: @brookealexx
- Facebook: BrookeAlexx
- Twitter: @brookealexx
- YouTube: brookealexx
- Website: brookealexx.com
Northern Marianas Islands — Sabyu — “Sunsets and Seaturtles”
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.
Now living in Olympia, Washington, he 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.
Connect with Sabyu here:
South Carolina — Jesse LeProtti — “Not Alone”
Jesse Christopher Blocker III, known professionally as Jesse LeProtti, grew up in Irmo, South Carolina, and is now based in Los Angeles. He has received recognition for his wide vocal range, crisp live performances and diverse music catalogue that includes pop, R&B, soul, electronic and many more styles. Jesse strives to bring back “real music,” making listeners feel a sense of deja vu while keeping it one-hundred percent authentic to himself.
Being from South Carolina has played a huge role in who he is today – musically and mentally. Two of his biggest musical influences, James Brown and Darius Rucker, are from South Carolina. He is proud to represent his home state, as the people of South Carolina have the “go-getter” and “never give up” mentality, which has led Jesse to where he is today.
Connect with Jesse LeProtti here:
- TikTok: @jesseleprotti
- Instagram: @jesseleprotti
- Facebook: jesseleprotti
- Twitter: @jesseleprotti
- YouTube: Jesse LeProtti
South Dakota — Judd Hoos — “Bad Girl”
Judd Hoos is a rock band from Spearfish, South Dakota, now based in Rapid City. The band’s line up consists of Tyler Bills (lead vocals and guitar), Shane Funk (drums), Andy Young (guitar), Kiethan Funk (keyboard, percussion and background vocals), and Chase Huseby (bass).
In the past 12 months, Judd Hoos has released a new EP, Not Alone, organised the Nashville Comes to the Black Hills songwriting camp and hosted the first-ever Judd Hoos Charity Jam. They appeared on multiple tour stops with Nashville rockers the Wild Feathers, played close to one hundred Midwest clubs, theatres, festivals and fairs and even shared the stage with rock icon Billy Idol. In addition to recording new music, they have renewed a tour sponsorship deal with Remedy Brewing Company for the second straight year and collaborated on their own IPA, Hoos Joos.
Connect with Judd Hoos here:
- TikTok: @juddhoos
- Instagram: @juddhoos
- Facebook: juddhoos
- Twitter: @juddhoos
- YouTube: JuddhoosOfficial
- Website: juddhoos.com
Tennessee — Tyler Braden — “Seventeen”
Tyler Braden was inspired to pursue a musical career from a young age by legend Hank Williams. He moved from his small town in Alabama to Nashville to pursue a career in music, teaching himself guitar and working as a firefighter in the meantime. He’s now a budding star with more than 70 million streams to his name and a growing list of major tour credits.
In January, Tyler made his Grand Ole Opry debut, setting the tone for big things to come this year, including representing Tennessee on American Song Contest.
Tennessee is where his music career really found its footing and he says he owes it all to the state. Tyler is prepared and excited to represent it in the best way he knows how.
Connect with Tyler Braden here:
- Instagram: @tylerbradenmusic
- Facebook: tylerbradenmusic
- Twitter: @tylerbraden
- YouTube: Tyler Braden
- Website: tylerbraden.com
Texas — Grant Knoche — “Mr. Independent”
Originally from Frisco, Texas, and now L.A. based, Grant Knoche taught himself to write and produce music in his childhood bedroom at 11, and he hasn’t looked back since. Still only 19, Grant’s synth-driven, deep bass and intimate pop songs have all been self-written and produced.
On his way to gathering close to one million followers on social media, Grant has spent most of his life on the road performing more than 160 shows across America, including Today at Radio City Music Hall, Woodstock and many other locales. Grant’s debut EP, Color Me Blue, has been featured on multiple top playlists and he was recently called out by Ones to Watch as “one of today’s finest rising pop stars”.
Connect with Grant Knoche here:
- TikTok: @grantknoche
- Instagram: @grantknoche
- Facebook: GrantKnoche
- Twitter: @grantcknoche
- YouTube: grantknoche
- Website: grantknoche.com
Who stands out to you in heat three of American Song Contest? Which song and staging snippets do you think are the strongest? Let us know in the comments below!