Pop singer Stela Cole represents Georgia in NBC’s new ‘American Song Contest’

The series replicates ‘Eurovision,’ which discovered ABBA and Måneskin.

For the past four-plus decades, European countries have competed in a music competition show called “Eurovision” that helped break pop quartet ABBA in the mid-1970s and last year crowned the Italian rock band Måneskin, who subsequently appeared on “Saturday Night Live.”

Now NBC is attempting to replicate that show’s concept by having acts with original songs compete by state, with D.C. and five territories included.

All episodes will air live and will be hosted by “The Voice” coach and talk show host Kelly Clarkson and hip-hop legend Snoop Dogg. And there are no judges or coaches.

Georgia’s representative is pop singer Stela Cole who signed a record deal with RCA Records in 2018 but is currently independent.

Cole, a 24-year-old 2016 Starrs Mill High School graduate, had never tried out for another reality competition show but found this particular one enticing. “Being familiar with Eurovision, this is the coolest thing ever,” she said. “I absolutely want to be part of it. This showcases artists’ actual songs and original work.”

UPDATE: Here is her song from her performance that aired April 11:

While each European country picked its own artist and song, NBC had a team of music-industry insiders select the best from each state and territory.

And like Eurovision, “American Song Contest” not only features unknown singers but also well-established acts such as Jewel, representing Alaska, and Michael Bolton, representing Connecticut.

There will be eight episodes in total. The first five qualifying rounds beginning March 21 will pare 56 songs to 22. Those 22 will be cut to 10 finalists for the grand finale on May 9.

Votes will be split between the public and a 56-person jury. Jurors can’t pick for their own states or territories. Vote counts will be weighed so that the U.S. Virgin Islands has the same chance as Texas.

The original American U.S. music competition show “American Idol” has since moved to ABC from Fox. It normally airs on Sundays but in a counter-programming move that might have scared NBC in 2006, “Idol” will air a bonus audition episode Monday against “American Song Contest.” (NBC decided to give “The Voice” the spring off after many years of running the show twice a year, which also gave Clarkson time to host this show.)

Cole grew up in Peachtree City as a soccer player but had a serious back injury and couldn’t walk for a year. “Being super depressed and angsty and not knowing what I wanted to do with my life, I started writing songs on the piano,” she said. “I stayed up until 3 a.m. writing. The songs were terrible.”

She attended Belmont University in Nashville where she met her future manager who taught her how to write a proper song. She released a single, angsty “You F O” online and soon RCA Records signed her. But the relationship didn’t click.

“They dropped me halfway through the deal before we got to put out a full album,” she said. “It wasn’t the right fit. They were trying to make me Meghan Trainor 2.0. Meghan is dope, but she already exists. "

Cole, who now lives in Los Angeles, said she is happy as an independent artist building her audience organically.

Her musical influences range from OutKast to Diana Ross to Brenda Lee and doo-wop and she loves to mix genres.

Her original song for “American Song Contest” will feature a major stage show, she said.

“There will be choreography, back-up dancers, lighting,” she said. “We are going balls to the wall.”

NBC has not said which day Cole will be on.


“American Song Contest,” 8 p.m. Mondays and available on Peacock