Sara Bareilles Talks About Joining TV’s “The Sing-Off”
By Fred Topel
HollywoodNews.com: Pop music sensation Sara Bareilles is joining the singing competition show The Sing-Off as a judge. The “Love Song/King of Anything” singer said taking the time to appear on a TV show, which will go from weekly to nightly, was a no brainer.
“I’ve been a fan of the show from the beginning and then got to join up last year in the finale,” Bareilles said at the Television Critics Association panel for The Sing-Off. “I’m such an a cappella nerd and such a fan, it seemed like a wonderful way to join up with a killer cast of characters and get closer to the show. Of course it’s nice to get people to see who I am in terms of my personality and what I have to offer as a judge.”
Bareilles has a background in a cappella singing with Awaken at UCLA. When she’s evaluating an a capella singing on The Sing-Off, she wants to be gentle. “We try to be honest but really fair,” she said. “We try to be kind as well. We’ve all received criticism over the years. You get the most out of someone who takes into consideration that you’re really vulnerable up there.”
Other competition shows thrive on mean judges leveling with contestants who fail their performance. Bareilles thinks there’s more value in constructive criticism. “I think I have a different perspective on whether or not I believe that’s really leveling with contestants,” she said. “I’ve also been the recipient of constructive criticism and had people come in work with my band. We have an artistic director. We’re working on something that’s our creative brainchild and it’s only going to get better if you don’t feel defensive. For me personally, that’s not going to come if I receive criticism that feels unfounded or personal. I try to be technical about my perspective and communicate it in a way that seems fair.”
Having guest starred on the previous season finale of The Sing-Off, Bareilles was able to jump into her new role as a regular. “It’s trial by fire a little bit but I’m familiar with the format and it’s a very popular format on TV. The trick is finding your own voice. I think my judging style is still developing but I really think we’re doing a disservice to the groups if we can’t be honest. Even though it might be difficult to be critical in a way, I think it’s important to be honest but I really do try to be kind in what I’m saying.”
The music for which Bareilles is now famous incorporates a lot of piano, but she still thrives on the magic of a cappella. It gave her a voice, pun intended, when she was a student.
“The name of the group was Awaken A Cappella. I participated in a talent show at UCLA, the Spring Sing. The first year I participated as a little comedy troupe and I saw Awaken perform. As soon as I saw them perform, I said I’ve got to be a part of that. So I auditioned, got in my sophomore year, it was my first year singing with the group. I felt like I found my home. I grew up in a really small town in northern California called Eureka. I felt really isolated in Los Angeles and felt I hadn’t really found my fit in terms of personalities and friendships. My a cappella group provided for me this little community of misfits that I felt like I had found my tribe.”
Now Bareilles can play a role in helping other artists find a place where they belong. “What’s interesting about this show is I keep hearing that story over and over again with the groups. It’s given me a lot to emotionally connect with them about because I know how much singing with your friends can mean to someone in their personal lives.”
The Sing-Off is currently shooting over the summer and will return Sept 19.
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