If you live in a metropolitan city like New York or Los Angeles, you’ll recall the hundreds of street performers that flood subway platforms, sidewalks and parks each day. Oftentimes, these unknown artists possess more talent than the ones that fill stadiums and dominate Billboard charts. The fruits of their labor may garner just a few bucks inside a hat, but today, you have the power to give them the attention they deserve.
Eric Benet, whose career began long before the birth of musical reality shows, is taking his expertise and applying it to a revolutionary show called Sub Stars. With the help of a successful Kickstarter campaign, Benet and his team hope to travel city-to-city, find the best kept secrets in music and give them a national audience. While most shows require that contestants come to them, Sub Stars will take it to the streets and instead go to the talent.
VIBE Vixen: What inspired you to create Sub Stars?
Eric Benet: We’ve all seen street performers or subway performers where we thought, “why don’t you have a deal; you’re so talented?” And Sub Stars is a great opportunity for that type of talent to be heard, to have a national platform. It is a national music competition, but it’s very much unlike what you think of when you think of a music show. To me, all the American Idols and X-Factors… seem glitzy and Hollywood and it’s almost like a glorified karaoke show.
I don’t think there’s another show like this on TV.
We go to them. We’ve created an opportunity for them to have a national stage and it’s the first time in history that a competition show is not only going to have the fans be able to decide who is going to be on the show, but making it possible for this show to even exist.
Will it take place in one city?
It is nation-wide. Right now, people can go to Substarstv.com and people can see our little video on what the idea’s about and hopefully, it will make you want to be a part of it.
What made you want to do a Kickstarter campaign?
We wanted to not take the idea to a network or anything because we really love the idea as it is. And we loved having the autonomy and the control as opposed to, “okay, you’re now on so-and-so’s network and we’re paying for most of the production, so we’re going to change this and this.” We wanted to be able to pay for the entire seasons ourselves. For the fans to be a part of it at such a ground level; such a point of inception; it’s something that’s never been done before, which is exciting.
Are you a fan of reality TV competitions?
To be honest I’m not a huge fan. I appreciate the fact that it gives an opportunity for people to go from zero to 120 as far as super stardom. The things that I don’t like about the shows are the same reason we don’t do them.
So there well be no sitting on a panel at any time?
It’s not going to be about panelists. I’m about going to these people and in every respected city that we go to, we’re going to ask a guest judge to help me choose who is the strongest performer… It’s going to be really organic and gritty and authentic.
Are you looking for a specific musical focus?
It’s wide open. We may find a Cellist; we may find some lyrical genius or something. It can be anything. And it’s going to be all about who’s strongest that week.
We saw you in the last season of Real Husbands of Hollywood. What brought you to the show?
Chris Spencer, who is one of the main creators of the show, happens to be a friend. He actually ran it by me for the first season. I had so much fun on the set. It’s as fun as it looks; a bunch of dudes and people who just want to hang out and have fun. Kevin Hart is as crazy and foolish and down-to-earth as you’d think he is. It’s a lot of improvisational stuff. So far, they asked me to come back a couple of times and that’s cool. It’s always cool when there’s something creative that people don’t know you for. My family knows how crazy I am, so they’ll be like, “why aren’t you doing more comedy stuff?”
Who is your favorite cast member?
I always like meeting somebody who is totally different from what you assumed that they would be. Bobby Brown was one of those people. I met him before, but I never got the chance to really sit down and bond with him. It was just really dope to be on the set with Bobby Brown and have a conversation with him about being a dad and family. I fall victim to thinking that people are a certain way and it was cool to see him as this family man. I had fun with a lot of the other guys, too.
Anymore acting in the near future?
We’ll see. I mean right now I’m so busy with all the stuff going on musically. My record label Jordan House; we signed Calvin Richardson, we signed Goapele; two incredible, amazing artists. We just put the finishing touches on Calvin’s record and we’re getting to Goapele’s now. Between finishing those projects and supporting those for most of the year, I’m going to be pretty busy.
What made you want to start you own label?
Being on the other side, when you’re young and you first get a record deal- at least for me- I was just so happy. I felt like with a major label, I made it. You think that when it happens, but over the next few years, you realize how much control you don’t have and so I think for me, I was like I want to do this by myself. I don’t want to get the approval of someone else and hope that so and so on the top floor relates to this project that I’m working on.
Learn more about Sub Stars here.