The dream came to an end Monday for Danielle Withers.
In a stunning upset, the 27-year-old Mason woman and her group, Afro-Blue, were ousted from the final four contestants on NBC’s “The Sing-Off.”
“It was a tremendous opportunity,” said Withers, who’s now back in Mason. “This updated us to a national platform to share what we do in the Jazz world. It felt really good to have that platform and to be in a prime-time slot on NBC doing it.”
Now in its third season, the weekly series hosted by Nick Lachey follows 16 a cappella groups from across the country as they compete for a Sony Music recording contract and $200,000 cash prize.
The winner will be crowned by popular vote on a live season finale to air Nov. 28 (8 p.m., Channel 5).
The award-winning Jazz performance group started as a class in the music department at Howard University — Withers graduated in 2007 from Howard with a degree in music education. It’s named after the famous John Coltrane song.
Afro-Blue, the only Jazz group to appear this season, quickly emerged as a tour de force, earning rave reviews from judges who praised the group’s sound and smart arrangements.
Judges often singled out Withers, who took the lead in several performances, calling her an “amazing” vocalist.
“She’s fantastic,” said judge Sarah Bareilles. “She has a presence that makes you feel like the stage is a very comfortable and natural extension of her personality.”
But amidst tough competition, the group found itself in the bottom two groups considered for elimination in recent weeks.
“This season was a very different season,” said Withers. “The choreography was a little more intense than other seasons. Everything was a little more intense.”
While the “Sing-Off” doors have closed, other doors have opened for the white-hot Mason graduate. She plans to move to Los Angeles this month to pursue the onslaught of professional opportunities coming her way.
“Being on ‘The Sing-Off’ has been a major game-changer for Afro-Blue,” said Withers. “This opened the door of opportunities and now we can make this our life. We definitely feel that amazing things are going to happen for us and we’re ready.”