Mason graduate Danielle Withers is used to being in the limelight. She starred as Dorothy in Mason High School’s award-winning production of ‘The Wiz” and went on to perform backup for some of R&B’s top names.
But tonight she’ll take the national television stage for a chance to win a music contract and $200,000.
Withers will be featured on season three of NBC’s show “The Sing-Off” which kicks off at 8 p.m. tonight.
“I’ve done a lot of traveling all over the world singing backup and its all been grueling,” said Withers, who’s now back in Mason. “This was probably the most grueling experience I’ve ever had. We rehearsed all day every day with no days off. It was really intense and amazing.”
But, she adds, the experience provided a chance for the budding entertainer to hone her craft and do what she loves.
“It was never really a competition for us,” she said. “For us it about the joy of singing.”
The weekly series follows 16 a cappella groups from across the country as they compete for a Sony Music recording contract and $200,000 cash prize.
The show runs for 11 weeks with the winning group crowned by popular vote in a final live episode in November. Nick Lachey hosts with Ben Folds (Ben Folds Five), Shawn Stockman (Boyz II Men) and singer/songwriter Sara Bareilles as performance judges.
Withers, a Mason Homecoming Queen who was active in choir and drama before graduating in 2002, is among the 10-member group Afro-Blue.
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.
The group has performed around the world and received six Downbeat music magazine awards, including Best College Jazz Group, Outstanding College Jazz Choir, Best College Jazz Arrangement and Outstanding College Jazz Soloist.
Afro-Blue has recorded two CDs, “It’s a Matter of Pride” and “Freedom in Song.”
A local viewing party has been set up for 7 – 10:30 p.m. this evening at BD’s Mongolian Grille at 8655 Mason-Montgomery Road in Deerfield Township. Withers’ friends and family invite the community to attend and lend their support.
“Danielle was a very good MHS student with an outstanding voice,” said Elaine Santos, Mason’s vocal music director. “We are so proud of her, and hopeful that she will capture America’s heart with her talent.”
The final live show will air in November. Withers says she hopes the experience allows her to realize her dreams of becoming a professional entertainer.
“I would love to do musical theater and film and TV. Singing is my passion, so I’ve been working on a gospel singer,” she said. “All the things I love to do I can do them all and I’m hoping the show will open the door.”
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