A Closer Look At Bands4Good Challenge

Back in August, I wrote a post introducing you guys to the Bands4Good Challenge and today, I am excited to bring you a behind the scenes glance via an interview with the of the co- founders of the Bands4Good Challenge,  Fred Fletcher.

I am also pleased to to announce that the deadline for entering into the challenge has been extended through October 30th! If you have any questions or want to know exactly how to enter and who is eligible, check out their website...Bands4Good Challenge

What role has music played in your life and is there any particular impact it has had on you?
I'm fortunate to have been born with perfect pitch and can play by ear.  From a music training stand point I started piano lessons when I was 6 and took them for 3 – 4  years.  I graduated to clarinet, then moved on to tenor & baritone sax.  Started a garage band (actually we didn't have a garage so you could call it a "den" band) at 12 called the Jive Five.  Our parents had to take us to practice and our "gigs… That was cool. :)

By the time I got to high school the band had changed its name and was the featured band at local clubs and we often were asked to open for such acts like the Platters, the Drifters and Billy Stewart.   Keep in mind this was in the late 50's early 60's.  As I started college, we kept the band together and were fortunate to hook up with a trio of black singers called the "Mighty Turbans" (yes they wore all the funky wardrobe you can imagine).  We were a hit with the fraternity crowd.  

My Junior year (1964) I became social chairman of my Fraternity and the school's Inter-fraternity Council tasked with lining up the entertainment for IFC's annual bash.  

I had fallen in love with a band called Cess Hardy & The Might Blue Notes from Kinston NC.  They would host an alcohol free dance everySaturday night at a pickle warehouse in Faison NC about a 45 min drive for me. (I rarely missed a Saturday night unless I had a gig).  The band was sometimes 8 - 12 members strong many of which were school music teachers in the local area.  They were eventually discovered by James Brown and became one of Brown's most prolific farm bands which yielded talent the likes of Maceo Parker.  

Anyway, back to the IFC annual event.  I booked Ike & Tina Turner (yes they were together back then) as the headline act and the Blue Notes to open.  That was fun.

My sax was stolen from my fraternity one weekend so I’ve been without sax ever since.  I didn't pick up an instrument for a long time, but I love blues so I decided 3 years ago that I wanted to play the blues harp.   And now I do.  I've even played some gigs and sat in on some  jam sessions.

What exactly is the 2014 Bands4Good Challenge?It’s an online charity benefit where we employ a proven strategy of combining music with fundraising. A Bands4Good Challenge provides aspiring, unsigned musicians in need of exposure and multiple cause related nonprofits in need of funding a platform to participate in a virtual "American Idol" like “donate to vote”, nationwide, social media event.  

What nonprofits will benefit from this challenge?
Arts For Life, Little Kids Rock, Kid Pan Alley, Street Level Youth Media & Silver Lake Conservatory of Music.

How do both the judges scores and fan votes carry the contestants through the competition?
During the Challenge, Contestants and our participating nonprofits are  given the tools to engage in frequent challenges to drive both free and donation votes.   To keep the balance that Bands 4Good Challenge is both a fundraiser and talent competition, contestants must achieve 50,000 votes (that's $1,000 in donation votes) and a minimum average judges score of 300 points (ut of a total of 500) to advance into the Finals which will be during the last 10 days - 2 weeks of the contest..  

Why do you think that music is so important for school-aged children?
There is all kinds of evidence that kids involved in music have a higher self esteem, higher grade performance and graduation rate just to name a few.  Can you imagine a world without music?  Can you imagine what the world would be like if we don't foster the next generation and the next generation of singers, songwriters and musicians.    

How did you and the other founders come up with the idea for the 2014 Bands4Good Challenge?

Again, combining music with fundraising is a proven strategy.  Just look around you.  You have the hugely famous and successful benefit concerts like Farm Aid featuring celebrity artists but you also have local bands performing live at benefit concerts in your community.  They are all typically at “brick and mortar” venues which are limiting in number, capacity for ticket sales and can be very costly to produce.   So, with the advent of the Internet and the evolution of Social Media we’ve found a way to take the “bricks and mortar” out of benefit concerts.

At the same time we are avid followers of the reality TV shows such as the Voice, Idol and X-Factor because of the talent they feature but also the back stories that underscore the sacrifice the competitors endure.   Think about it... more than 1.3 million artists have auditioned for Idol alone over the 12 years it’s been on the air.  To audition, these musicians have had to take days  off from work, spend hundreds of dollars they don't have to travel and stand in line with 10,000 other artists with little certainty they will even be heard by a legitimate talent scout.  

We felt there had to be a better way and, because of our passion to help young artists pursue their ambitions, and our desire to help the less fortunate, we created Bands4Good Challenge to give artists (aspiring and established) a global platform that they can access from their kitchen table, an audience driven by the company funded promotion and by our Charity Partners who will benefit directly from the contestants’ music and Challenge voting.  

Would you consider yourself to be musically inclined?
See previous answer

Is there an instrument that you prefer to listen to?
Blues harp (harmonica)

Do you have a particular song that is your favorite, whether it brings about fond memories or find it soothing?
Not really.  Depends on what I’m doing and my mood.  I particularly like the thumping boogie blues beat which makes my knees buckle and I’ve made a living on Carolinas’ beach music as a record collector and founder of a “Hall of Fame” shag club called the Jolly Knave.

Who are your favorite bands or musicians...past or present?

My music interests are wide spread so I really don’t have a favorite.  I just love it all.  Eagles, Boston, Clapton, ZZ Top, Garth Brooks, Anita Baker, Bonnie Raitte, Santana, David Sandborne, Sting, Beatles, BB King, Little Walter, Joe Bonamassa… geeze there is no end to my favorites.   

Thanks so much to Fred for answering my questions, I just love everything about this competition and what it represents!  Keep checking back to see what new updates I have to fill you in on throughout the duration of the challenge!
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