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Kelly Rowland & Sara Bareilles to Judge Audible’s ‘Breakthrough,’ The First Audio-Only Singing Contest

todayMarch 1, 2023 9

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Audible is taking music contests and audio storytelling to a whole new level with Breakthrough, the first audio-only singing competition series developed and launched exclusively as a podcast.

The company revealed exclusively to Billboard on Wednesday (March 1) that Grammy-winning superstars Kelly Rowland and Sara Bareilles have joined Breakthrough as judges. On the show, the duo will guide the contestants’ performances, as well as mentor the artistic development of five artists through a season of musical challenges. As expected with the “audio only” format, the physical appearance of the performers is concealed, so their music is the only thing to connect them to listeners (and the judges too).

Over the course of nine episodes, the artists will be challenged with covering tracks that mean the most to them, stretching to genres outside their comfort zones, and writing and recording hooks and full original songs — with one artist ultimately crowned the winner. Throughout the series, Daveed Diggs will guide listeners through the contestants’ journeys as the host.

“I am so thrilled to be joining this group of wildly talented people for Breakthrough,” Bareilles said in a press statement. “I love that the creative team are on the same journey as our audience – getting to know these artists without seeing them – developing a sense of their artistry through only their music and storytelling. These five incredible souls showed up to each challenge with courage and vulnerability that invited us all into a remarkably intimate space, and I learned so much from them. No matter where you are in your career it is always inspiring to witness someone reach for the deepest parts of themselves and be willing to share that tender space.”

Rowland added, “I am so happy to be a part of this series that highlights and gives a voice to emerging artists. Audible is an ideal space for this and Breakthrough is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to up-and-coming musicians. I’m rooting for them all!”

Breakthrough premieres June 1 on Audible. Before then, check out an exclusive audio teaser below.

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