American Song ContestFeatures

A closer look at the American Song Contest acts

From Alabama to Wyoming, from Jewel to Sabyu

On Thursday, NBC and Eurovision.tv released the names of all 56 acts partaking in the first ever American Song Contest. With so many acts being revealed at the same time, it is hard to keep track of who they all are. That’s why we have taken a closer look: Who are the 56 acts fighting for the inaugural title of Best Hit Song?

Introducing the 56 American Song Contest acts

Below, we’ll introduce each act taking part in the American Song Contest to you. Click on their name to read more about them and listen to one of their songs. Once you’re done reading, simply click on the box again to close it and move on to the next act!

Alabama: Ni/Co

Ni/Co will represent Alabama.

They are a pop/R&B band based in Los Angeles, California. The duo consists of Colton, who grew up in Alabama, and Dani. She grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. For Colton, this won’t be his first showing on NBC as he took part on The Sing-Off back in 2010.

Alaska: Jewel

Jewel will represent Alaska.

The Last Frontier, all the way up north, have managed to get a big name representing them. 47-year old Jewel will fly their flag. She recently won The Masked Singer in the USA as Queen of Hearts and she’ll be hoping to add another victory to her tally. Jewel grew up in Alaska and still lives there. With hits in the 1990s as Hands and Foolish Games, Jewel became a voice for her generation.

American Samoa: Tenelle

Tenelle will represent American Samoa.

American Samoa is one of five territories also taking part in the American Song Contest. The islands have selected Tenelle to represent them. Tenelle, whose full name is Tenelle Christine Luafalemana, channels the Pacific atmosphere in her music. Her music is a mix of reggae, R&B and pop, as you can see in one of her biggest successes: Island King.

Arizona: Las Marias

Las Marias will represent Arizona.

Twin sisters Las Marias release all of their music in Spanish. Dressed in cowboy hats, the duo is ready to represent Arizona at the ASC. Maria Isabel and Maria Teresa moved to Nogales in Arizona after their parents were deported to Mexico. Ever since, they’ve dedicated their careers to traditional music such as mariachi or música norteña. A good example is their song Libro de recuerdos.

Arkansas: Kelsey Lamb

Kelsey Lamb will represent Arkansas.

It may come as no surprise that Arkansas have gone for a country singer for the American Song Contest. Kelsey Lamb is an upcoming artist from Little Rock in the state. She débuted a couple of years ago with Little By Little, but is yet to have her big break. Can ASC be that for her?

California: Sweet Taboo

Sweet Taboo will represent California.

The state of the big entertainment industries in Los Angeles have opted for an upcoming artist: Sweet Taboo. They are a TikTok sensation with millions of plays on the app. The three girls, Jennifer Torrejon, Sami Ramos and rapper ICP Bre, take pride in their Latino roots and make sure they showcase them in their music as well.

Colorado: Riker Lynch

Riker Lynch will represent Colorado.

From Glee to ASC, it’s Riker Lynch for Colorado. Lynch played Jeff on hit series Glee and also finished second on Dancing With The Stars in its twentieth season. TV experience? Check! Normally, he plays with a band: Riker and The Beachcombers, after R5 disbanded in 2018, but for Colorado, he’ll fly solo. He was born in Littleton, Colorado and will hope to bring glory to his home state.

Connecticut: Michael Bolton

Michael Bolton will represent Connecticut.

Born and raised in Connecticut, the state has gone for an absolute legend. 69-year old multi Grammy Award winner Michael Bolton is the chosen one for the Constitution State. In his career, which has spanned over five decades, he’s scored many hits all around the world. His 1989 release of How Am I Supposed To Live Without You? may be his biggest hit to date.

Delaware: Nitro Nitra

Nitro Nitra will represent Delaware.

Woke pop, rock and soul from the Philadelphia tri-state are of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware: That is Nitro Nitra. On her own website, the singer describes her “mystical, spiritual awakening” from 2019 and how it influences her music. Through songs, Nitro Nitra aims to get people to their personal spiritual awakenings… One of her recent singles is called Just Right, which you can listen to below.

Florida: Ale Zabala

Ale Zabala will represent Florida.

Hailing from Colombia and now residing in Florida is Ale Zabala. Most of her music can be described as Latin pop and it’s almost always in Spanish. She has earnt praise for her work as a songwriter for other artists as well. Her most recent single is Ocean Drive.

Georgia: Stela Cole

Stela Cole will represent Georgia.

She will provide us with Atlanta inspired pop/hip hop: Stela Cole from Peachtree City, Georgia. On Instagram, the singer confirmed she had been keeping her participation secret for months, so the ASC has been planning and plotting for a while. With a million monthly listeners, she’s sure to have a good fan base for the American Song Contest.

Guam: Jason J.

Jason J. will represent Guam.

The second territory on the list of entrants is Guam. The island, which is located closer to the Philippines and Japan than to mainland USA, has chosen Jason J, who now resides in Los Angeles, California. With 116,000 streams on Spotify last year, this reggae/alternative artist is one of the more unknown in the pack. His most popular song on streaming platforms stems from 2017 and is called Juices.

Hawaii: Bronson Varde

Bronson Varde will represent Hawaii.

Island state Hawaii have chosen the lead singer of the band No Pressure to represent them in the American Song Contest. Bronson Varde released his solo début single just three days ago and it’s called Far Away. His music belongs to the Jawaiian genre, a Hawaiian style of reggae music.

Idaho: Andrew Sheppard

Andrew Sheppard will represent Idaho.

“Heartland rock”, “rock ‘n roll”, “country rocker” are just three terms we found online to describe Andrew Sheppard’s music. From Hailey, Idaho he will now represent his home state. With all the descriptions, it’s hard to pin him down to one genre or style, but there’s one thing that you can be quite certain of: His entry will heavily feature a guitar.

Illinois: Justin Jesso

Justin Jesso will represent Illinois.

Ever heard of Stargazing by Kygo? Yes? Then you’ve certainly heard of Justin Jesso, as he is the featured vocalist on the 2017 hit. Not only is Justin Stein, as his real name is, a well-known singer, but also as a composer, he’s worked his way up the ladder. Ricky Martin was nominated for a Latin Grammy for his song Vente Pa’Ca. He’s also written a song for Melodifestivalen entrant Cazzi Opeia. A good shot for Illinois?

Indiana: UG skywalkin

UG skywalkin will represent Indiana.

Combining hip hop, R&B and reggae, UG skywalkin is heading to the American Song Contest. For Indiana, we actually know which song will represent them. UG skywalkin has announced on social media that he will team up with Maxie to perform Love In My City.

Iowa: Alisabeth Von Presley

Alisabeth Von Presley will represent Iowa.

Scrolling through Alisabeth Von Presley’s Instagram account showcases one thing: Alisabeth sure loves the colour pink. With an ecclectic mix of pop, rock and lots of wigs, Alisabeth Von Presley is an upcoming name from the Iowa music scene, who first rose to fame on American Idol in its twelfth season.

Kansas: Broderick Jones

Broderick Jones will represent Kansas.

A self-proclaimed hopeless romantic will enter the arena for the Sunflower State. Mixing pop, soul and R&B, Broderick Jones will represent them in the American Song Contest. On Instagram, Jones has used the hashtag #ForTheCity to announce his participation, which may hint towards a song title or just to his hometown. His most recent single is XYZ.

Kentucky: Jordan Smith

Jordan Smith will represent Kentucky.

Winning The Voice may be a good first step towards ASC glory. To win The Voice on Adam Levine’s team, after auditioning with Chandelier? With eight out of eleven performances hitting the charts? A very good sign. It’s been relatively quiet around Jordan Smith since 2018, when he wrote Ashes for none other than Céline Dion. The American Song Contest may be his return to the grand spotlights.

Louisiana: Brittany Pfantz

Brittany Pfantz will represent Louisiana.

Soulful, sultry alternative indie pop: That’s the best way to describe Brittany Pfantz. She now resides in Nashville, Tennessee, but is originally from Louisiana. She takes great pride in her Louisiana heritage, as she describes her music as a mix of all sorts of styles, resulting in something “like her mama’s gumbo”. Her most recent single is Even If I Knew.

Maine: King Kyote

King Kyote will represent Maine.

Rock’n’roll from the Pine Tree State: Maine have selected a true rocker for ASC. King Kyote is a singer-songwriter from Portland. His real name is Jon King and he grew up in York. He’s very much an undiscovered singer, with just a couple of singles to his name. On Spotify, his most popular song (with about 12,000 streams) is Halo.

Maryland: Sisqó

Sisqó will represent Maryland.

They are the size of Belgium, but still count as one of the smaller states in the USA: Maryland. And as we know from Eurovision, small states can produce greatness. This time, it’s Maryland who have chosen Sisqó to represent them. 22 years ago, the R&B singer scored a worldwide hit with Thong Song. He’s been around in US media ever since, for example by taking part in Celebrity Wife Swap. Maybe this is his comeback to the charts?

Massachusetts: Jared Lee

Jared Lee will represent Massachusetts.

Massachusetts have chosen an experienced singer to represent them. Jared Lee has been the lead vocalist on many DJ collaborations: with Tiësto, Nicky Romero, Jenaux and many others. Jared is known for a soulful vocal and he’s not afraid to use his falsetto. He is also behind the soundtrack for the film Fantasy Island, which is the song you can listen to below.

Michigan: Ada LeAnn

Ada LeAnn will represent Michigan.

Michigan have opted for an upcoming indie pop artist from West Michigan. Her name is Ada LeAnn. Appearing in the American Song Contest will be her first ever TV performance, so this is a big moment for her. Ada is probably the youngest artist taking part in the American Song Contest, as the Battle Creek resident is just sixteen years old. Her most recent single is called january.

Minnesota: Yam Haus

Yam Haus will represent Minnesota.

Lars Pruitt, Seth Blum, Jake Felstow and Zach Beinlich: Together they form pop band Yam Haus. They formed five years ago after the guys met in high school in Minneapolis. Ever since, they’ve been working on their breakthrough. Their first tour was cancelled due to COVID-19, so this is their chance on the big stage.

Mississippi: Keyone Starr

Keyone Starr will represent Mississippi.

There seems to be a theme of singers who have worked with big DJs now going solo for the American Song Contest. Next in line is soul singer Keyone Starr, who had success seven years ago alongside British DJ Mark Ronson with their single I Can’t Lose. She also writes her own songs and is the CEO of GodArtMusic LLC. Plenty to hope for from Keyone Starr!

Missouri: Brett Seper

Brett Seper will represent Missouri.

Missouri have chosen an upcoming artist, who describes his own music as “emotionally-charged pop rock”. 20-year old Brett Seper is from Fredericktown in Missouri and he sees his selection for the American Song Contest as the biggest accomplishment of his life so far. His most recent single is called Distance.

Montana: Jonah Prill

Jonah Prill will represent Montana.

First things first: Jonah Prill’s most recent single is called Cowboy $hit and is exactly what you expect. Strong country vibes, rock in the background. He represents the true country boy you’d expect in the ASC: Prill grew up on a ranch in Billings, Montana, where he would spend most of his time around the wild horses. His grandfather was country singer Dean Evans, well-known for songs like Lottin Dottin. Jonah Prill himself rose to fame through TikTok.

Nebraska: Jocelyn

Jocelyn will represent Nebraska.

Equipped with a guitar and some strong lyrics, Jocelyn is heading to the American Song Contest. It’s not her first time on national television, after appearing on JAM on PBS in late 2021. On YouTube, she’s released a couple of original songs. One of the most recent is Strangers, which has around a hundred views.

Nevada: The Crystal Method

The Crystal Method will represent Nevada.

From the state of the Las Vegas Strip, it’s electronic act The Crystal Method. Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland joined forces about thirthy years ago to form The Crystal Method. As pioneers of the big beat genre, they’ve had lots of success. Five years ago, Ken Jordan left the duo. Ever since, Scott Kirkland has been on his own. Since then, Kirkland released an album and worked together with singers like Franky Perez and Jean-Michel Jarre.

New Hampshire: MARi

MARi will represent New Hampshire.

Proud of her Latino and New Hampshire roots, pop singer MARi Burelle will be singing for her home state. Her style can be described as Christian EDM. She’s 36 years old and was born in Boston, Massachusetts. She is of Cuban and Puerto Rican descent. In 2019, she took part in the US series La Voz, where Luis Fonsi was her coach.

New Jersey: Brooke Alexx

Brooke Alexx will represent New Jersey.

With major cities New York and Philadelphia on its borders, New Jersey is a melting pot of cultures. The Garden State have opted to send Brooke Alexx, a pop and R&B artist to the American Song Contest. She is now based in Nashville, Tennessee, but originates from Old Tappan, New Jersey. Her music shows variety too, ranging from ballads like I’m Sorry, Tokyo to the more pop rock sound of Oldest.

New Mexico: Khalisol

Khalisol will represent New Mexico.

K-pop writer Khalisol will enter the arena for New Mexico. Funk/soul artist Kaelin Ellis has produced the song Khalisol will perform for his state, with help of Geoffrodamus. Khalisol is very much an upcoming artist, with just below 3,000 followers on Instagram. To date, he has however scored multiple albums with a gold status in the K-pop scene.

New York: ENISA

ENISA will represent New York.

Get your Albanian and Montenegrin flags out for the Empire State, because ENISA is representing New York. 26-year old Enisa Nikaj was born in Brooklyn to Albanian parents, who came from Montenegro. ENISA landed her first record deal three years ago and has been releasing music ever since. Her style can be described as pop, soul and R&B. With 1.8 million followers on Instagram and 37 million views on YouTube for her 2021 single Count My Blessings, she might be one of the frontrunners.

North Carolina: John Morgan

John Morgan will represent North Carolina.

More country music? Sure! Hailing from the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, John Morgan had his first steps in music with his bluegrass family band. He’s dedicated his life to music and has moved to Nashville, Tennessee. He’s written songs for Carrie Underwood before, but is now working on his solo career. His first single is called Coldest Beer In Town.

North Dakota: Chloe Fredericks

Chloe Fredericks will represent North Dakota.

North Dakota have opted for country singer-songwriter Chloe Fredericks. She has lived the classic country childhood: Raised on a ranch in a remote small town in North Dakota. According to her biography, she first wrote a song at the age of five on a cattle drive on her family’s ranch. She has since moved to Los Angeles, California and has released her first EP. One of her first singles was Pink Cotton Candy Clouds.

Northern Mariana Islands: Sabyu

Sabyu will represent the Northern Mariana Islands.

With just below 7,000 streams on Spotify in 2021, Sabyu is one of the more unknown names in the pack. Lots of Sabyu’s material is instrumental, with him playing the guitar. There are however a couple of songs where he sings as well. His most recent EP was called The Giver, which contained lead single The Giver (Where the Buffalo roam) – a collaboration with Ninguyu. Below you can listen to 20670 by Sabyu and Chief Javi.

Ohio: Macy Gray

Macy Gray will represent Ohio.

From one of the most unknown to one of the most famous: Macy Gray. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, R&B artist Macy Gray was successful all around the world. Her single I Try hit #1 in Austria, New Zealand and Ireland, but charted in many other countries as well. Last year, she took part in the Australian version of The Masked Singer, where she made it until the sixth episode.

Oklahoma: AleXa

AleXa will represent Oklahoma.

The American Song Contest takes pride in its diversity, so Oklahoma decided to serve us K-Pop. AleXa is originally from Jenks, Oklahoma. She took part in Korea’s Produce 48 show and ever since, most of her music has been bilingual, in Korean and English. Alexandra Christine Schneiderman, as her real name is, has now moved to Korea to pursue a career there. Her ASC song will be co-written by Melodifestivalen 2022 finalist Cazzi Opeia. One of her singles is called Xtra – and we of course like that title a lot.

Oregon: courtship.

courtship. will represent Oregon.

Micah Gordon and Eli Hirsch make electronic indie pop music. Eli is from Portland, Oregon and the duo now live in Los Angeles, California. They became a band by accident, when they started jamming together. When their lead vocalist didn’t show up, Micah did a demo vocal and… courtship. were born. They’ve released a couple of singles, one of which is Tell Me Tell Me.

Pennsylvania: Bri Steves

Bri Steves will represent Pennsylvania.

Philadelphia rapper Bri Steves has been chosen to represent her home state Pennsylvania. Back in 2017, Kendrick Lamar surprised the recently graduated Steves by inviting her on stage during his Made In America set. She got to perform her first ever single Jealousy on that stage. A few years later, the song has over 2.3 million views on YouTube.

Puerto Rico: Christian Pagán

Christian Pagán will represent Puerto Rico.

Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, Ricky Martin, Luis Fonsi… All famous Puerto Ricans. Excitement is high for the territory of Puerto Rico in the American Song Contest. They’ve chosen 32-year old Christian Pagán. Laid back pop music with a Latin sound and of course, all in Spanish: That’s what you can expect from Puerto Rico this year. Christian’s most recent single is Hasta Viejos.

Rhode Island: Hueston

Hueston will represent Rhode Island.

The smallest state of them all, ASC’s very own San Marino, is Rhode Island. They have chosen singer-songwriter Cory Hueston to represent them. He now lives in Florida and was one half of the The Blancos duo for a while. With deeply personal lyrics and a raspy voice, Hueston describes himself as “Viking-voiced”. Sounds promising? Check out his single Tidal Wave from 2019 below.

South Carolina: Jesse LeProtti

Jesse LeProtti will represent South Carolina.

Pop and R&B are a popular combination for this American Song Contest. South Carolina are no different, selecting Columbia born Jesse LeProtti. On Instagram, LeProtti already announced that his episode would be April 4th, so he is presumably in the third qualifying round. In August 2021, he released his single Rid of Me.

South Dakota: Judd Hoos

Judd Hoos will represent South Dakota.

The first proper rock band in the line up is from Sturgis, South Dakota. They’re called Judd Hoos and have been performing together for eighteen years. With Tyler Bills on vocals and Andy Young, Chris Hornick and Shane Funk joining him, this independent rock band have gathered a good local fan base over the past two decades. One of their most recent singles is Honest, Hey.

Tennessee: Tyler Braden

Tyler Braden will represent Tennessee.

Originally from Alabama, Tyler Braden now lives in the country music capital of Nashville, Tennessee. It can come as absolutely no surprise that Tennessee are opting for a country artist, although this singer-songwriter is clearly inspired by rock music as well, judging by his single Ways To Miss You. Below, you can listen to some proper country in Love Is A Dead End Road.

Texas: Grant Knoche

Grant Knoche will represent Texas.

The second largest US state has chosen former child singer Grant Knoche to represent them. Now 19 years old, Grant débuted as part of Kidz Bop. The band has brought forward some more stars, such as Zendaya. Knoche, pronounced ‘Ka-no-key’ according to himself, is a singer, songwriter, actor and dancer. He’s released a few solo singles so far, one of which being Color me blue.

U.S. Virgin Islands: Cruz Rock

Cruz Rock will represent the U.S. Virgin Islands.

One of the territories competing is the U.S. Virgin Islands and they have chosen to hit hard. The islands have a population of about 87,000, but their artist for ASC has an Instagram following seven times as big, with 620,000: Cruz Rock. He was born in St. Croix on the Virgin Islands, with parents from Puerto Rico and Trinidad&Tobago. Cruz Rock is a Latin Caribbean singer who does lots of collaborations, such as Like This with LV The Artist.

Utah: Savannah Keyes

Savannah Keyes will represent Utah.

Lots of artists in this list are based in Los Angeles, but even more might be from Nashville, Tennessee. Savannah Keyes is no different, but she will represent her home state of Utah. This 33-year old singer describes her music as country pop. She started her career at age 23 and has moved to Nashville to write her first ever EP herself. One of her first singles was called Superman.

Vermont: Josh Panda

Josh Panda will represent Vermont.

The Green Mountain State have selected pop singer Josh Panda from Burlington. He’s originally from Charlotte in North Carolina. His style is a mix of Southern rock and 70s music. One of his most prolific singles stems from 2015, discussing gay rights and is called Stick A Fork In Me.

Virginia: Almira Zaky

Almira Zaky will represent Virginia.

She hails from Richmond, Virginia, but is originally from Indonesia: Almira Zaky. She is 24 years old and her music is a combination of indie, R&B, soul and pop. She writes most of her music herself and has done so for her most recent single Clarity as well, which you can listen to below.

Washington: Allen Stone

Allen Stone will represent Washington.

R&B and soul singer Allen Stone will represent the state of Washington. He originates from Chewelah, near Spokane, Washington. Originally a church singer, he later renounced his faith. Citing Stevie Wonder as one of his major inspirations, you can hear the influence in his songs. He’s been a regular guest on TV shows, having performed at The Ellen DeGeneres Show, American Idol and Conan. His music is full of criticism on society, such as his song Unaware.

Washington D.C.: NËITHER

NËITHER will represent Washington D.C..

The capital district of the United States also gets to send a representative to the American Song Contest. NËITHER is a musician and visual artist from Washington D.C., whose music is a combination of R&B, hip hop and soul, which even has hints of reggae. He has’t released a lot of music so far, but back in 2020, he published one official video for his song Grown.

West Virginia: Alexis Cunningham

Alexis Cunningham will represent West Virginia.

The Mountain State is probably most famous for featuring in John Denver’s Take Me Home, Country Roads. However, for the American Song Contest, they didn’t go with a country singer. Instead, pop-rock artist Alexis Cunningham will represent them. She is an upcoming artist and her song has been written by two familiar faces. Eric Bazilian, who wrote Joan Osborne’s One Of Us and Martin Štibernik. The Slovenian wrote the 2003 Slovenian Eurovision entry Na Na Na by Karmen Stavec.

Wisconsin: Jake’O

Jake’O will represent Wisconsin.

Wisconsin is delivering the nuvo-retro sound, as Jake’O describes his own style. Armed with a hairdo like Elvis himself, a soulful vibrato and a guitar, Jake’O is ready to take the United States by storm. His sound is a combination of all sorts of music, so who knows what to expect from him at ASC. Especially because Jake’O hasn’t released any music so far. All we could find on YouTube is a set he did at The Atwood back in 2019…

Wyoming: Ryan Charles

Ryan Charles will represent Wyoming.

What do you get when you mix country with hip hop? Not just Old Town Road, but also Ryan Charles. He originates from Sparta, North Carolina, but now lives in Wyoming. His song titles are an absolute treat, with examples being Old Dirt Fancy, Cowboy Killer and Off The Whiskey. Below, you can listen to his most recent single, Getting Western.

Kelly Clarkson and Snoop Dogg to host

In eight weeks, the search for the very first winner of the American Song Contest will take place. The show will commence on 21st March and will have its final in May. Clarkson, who covered Eurovision winning song Arcade just a few weeks ago, will host the show alongside rapper Snoop Dogg.

Atlantic Records to release American Song Contest entries

The American Song Contest will air for eight weeks on (local) Monday nights. Atlantic Records will publish the songs at midnight during each week. With 56 competitors in three qualifying rounds, each show will consist of 18 or 19 entries. Following the qualifiers, we’ll see the semifinals and the Grande Finale. There, one state or territory will receive the crown of Best Hit Song at the inaugural American Song Contest.

Are you excited about the American Song Contest? What do you think of the participating acts, do you have an early favourite? Let us know! Be sure to stay updated by following @ESCXTRA on Twitter@escxtra on Instagram and liking our Facebook page for the latest updates! Also, be sure to follow us on Spotify and YouTube to see our reactions to the news in the run up to the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest in Turin!

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Nick van Lith

I'm one of the founding members of ESCXTRA.com. Eleven years after the start, I'm proud to say that I am now the Editor-in-Chief of this wonderful website. When I'm not doing Eurovision stuff, you should be able to find me teaching German to kids... And cheering on everything and everyone Greek, pretty much. Pame Ellada!

One Comment

  1. As an American, I know this is going to be a dumpster fire of boring, IHeartRadio sponsored by FordMetaPepsiCo corporate pop songs.

    But as long as it keeps us far, far away from horning in on the real thing (Eurovision itself), then I’m all for it.

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