Grammy winning, multiplatinum recording artist Brandy can relate to the kids on "Majors & Minors," the singing competition reality show that she hosts.
When Brandy Norwood was about 11, she auditioned to be a contestant on "Star Search," the popular 1980s televised talent show. But she didn't make the cut.
In an exclusive interview with Yahoo! Music, Brandy recalls how the disappointment did not deter her entertainment pursuits that ultimately landed her recording and television deals a few years later.
The former teen star also shares how her experiences helped her mentor the 12 "Majors & Minors" contestants aged 10 to 16.
Part one of the "Majors & Minors" finale airs Sunday at 7 p.m. on The Hub. Part two runs Sunday, January 29.
YAHOO! MUSIC: I know you were a judge on 'America's Got Talent.' So were you hesitant when the opportunity came up to host another reality talent competition?
BRANDY: No. I wasn't hesitant at all because of what the show is about. 'America's Got Talent' is a lot different than 'Majors & Minors,' and I was a little skeptical about 'America's Got Talent' because I never wanted to be the type of judge who invalidated or not encouraged someone.
With 'Majors & Minors,' it was never about people being voted off. It's really about these kids discovering who they are as artists and getting the advice they need from people who have already walked the path. And that's why I wanted to be involved with 'Majors & Minors.' I wish there was a 'Majors & Minors' for me when I was 15. That would have been awesome. I would have been able to get everything that I needed from people that I looked up to and share in the experience with people my age where it wasn't so competitive.
Speaking of encouraging kids on these types of shows, did you see when the girl Rachel lost on "X-Factor," and how she fell down and cried? Did your heart go out to her?
Absolutely. She wants it. She wanted it so bad. She wanted to go further in the competition so bad. You could just tell that she loved what she does. She loved to sing. She loved to perform, and she's just an incredible personality. My heart did go out to her, but I know for a fact that is going to make her stronger. I just feel a connection that that is not going to break her.
Could you relate to her?
There were competition shows when I was younger. I couldn't even get on 'Star Search.' That broke my heart, but there was something within me that let me know that I was supposed to inspire people through music, and I never let go of that. I feel like Rachel is one of those kids who is connected to that truth. She couldn't be that good if that was not true. … She's really, really good. And honestly, and this is in no disrespect to the other contestants, but they are adults. She should have won the whole thing in my opinion. (laughs)
You didn't make it on "Star Search?" Have you ever talked about that?
No, that's exclusive for you. (laughs) I don't think I've ever told that story. 'Star Search' was that show. It was that show that I wanted to go on. That was the 'American Idol' of my day. I auditioned for 'Star Search.' I remember singing 'The Greatest Love Of All' and 'Vision Of Love' and I didn't make it to 'Star Search.' But there was something about that. I was so angry that I didn't get a chance to get onto 'Star Search.' I was so angry that it just pushed me to go harder. I practiced every single day normally. I was practicing 4 to 5 times a day after that day. That pushed me to try harder. I was like, 'So 'Star Search' doesn't think I can sing?' I was probably about 11.
What can we expect on the "Majors & Minors" finale?
Honestly, I just want everybody to watch so they can support all of the kids. They have grown so much and they have just shocked everyone who has watched the show. You know a finale is going to be better singing, better songs. They are going to bring out all the stops.
I have to admit that I was expecting this to be like a Disney show with Disney songs. But these kids sounded grown, singing Etta James, Adam Lambert, and Beyonce. Were you surprised?
It was inspiring. Not just because they were singing these meaningful songs. I was more inspired and shocked that some of the songs [were written by the kids]. I remember one of the girls on there wrote a song about a garden. It had something to do with her aunt or mom or somebody passed away. I can't remember verbatim. .. It was about the last garden her mom was in and the person passed away, something like that. She wrote about that. The song was so beautiful. The lyrics were so deep. I was like, 'You can't be so young writing music like this.' Well, clearly you can. That's why we have 'Majors & Minors.' It's like, 'Wow.' It was just mind blowing. I was just taken aback that her experience moved her into writing a song like that; that deep, and so poetic.'
[The song Brandy is referring to is "Mother's Rose Garden" by Emily Kocontes.]
What was the most important advice you had to share with the kids?
I just wanted them to know that being who they are is just enough. Everything that they want and want to become they already are that deep down. It just has to come to the surface. I just wanted them to go forward with no fear. And to know that they can accomplish anything that they want to accomplish. Just stay humble and stay thankful. That's one of the things that I really wanted them to know. If you're so thankful for every step along the way because when you get cocky things get taken away. I told them that they are all going to be super stars so they got to stay humble and just be thankful for everything coming their way. They are not the gift but the gift is given to them.