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Sheila E on The Next Great American Band

Published October 19, 2007 in Television
By Fred Topel | Image property of Fox.
The Next Great American Band The Next Great American Band

American Idol had earned huge ratings and created many superstars by making public the brutal audition process solo artists go through. Now they're going to do it for bands. The Next Great American Band will put group acts in front of a panel of judges. Veteran performer Sheila E is on the panel and gave prospective viewers and contestants a hint at what she's looking for.

Sheila E Judges The Next Great American Band

"You audition as a group and that's the key," said Sheila. "We really want to find the next band and we have to make sure that they come in as a group, as a band and that we believe that wow, you guys play great together as a band. Sometimes bands will come in and they're not together. There's one or two people that you can tell that they want to be a solo artist and they're not playing together with the band. It doesn't look like they belong together. Those are the ones that are not going to make it."

While she is analyzing the group performance, Sheila hopes to be able to give some attention to the individual band members. "We can take the time to. By the time they perform their song, absolutely we have to, in that allotted amount of time, look at every single person individually as well. Look at the musicianship, look at how they're interacting with each other as a unit, as a band. And being able to have them do maybe different types of music, maybe challenge them. If they came in and played pop, maybe we would have them change it and play something Latin or jazz or country. So we're going to challenge them with musicianship because we're looking for the next band."

Crossover might be a new idea for today's up and comers. In an age where it seems to be a competition to sound the same, bands may not be able to stray too far from the core demographic. "It also comes down to marketing. You're going to have to be able to market the group and again, we had a polka band audition. They were really good but again, it's like is America going to accept a polka band as the next great American band? I don't know. It's very difficult. The great thing about it is we're showing you a wide range, variety of different types of music so it wasn't just one specific group. It wasn't just rock or alternative. And also there was no limit on age, which was great because it started at an early age of group of kids that came in to an older group that came in, so it opens up the field to a lot of different people and I think that's what's really exciting about it."

Ultimately, viewers will get to decide who they like the best. "It's difficult because at one point in time, it wouldn't matter whether we were picking them or not because the public's going to pick them. So it's what group of people are actually voting for these groups on television. It's going to be left up to the public."

The Next Great American Band premieres today on Fox.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Fox.

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