'The Sing-Off' winners speak about song selection, producer labels, and their competition

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t seen last night’s episode of The Sing-Off, do not click here! After the jump, an interview with the winners of the a cappella reality series. sing-off-committedImage Credit: Trae Patton/NBCLast night, Alabama gospel group Committed won the second season of NBC’s reality competition The Sing-Off, and life has already changed for them. (Sleep? Who needs it?) After a hotel wrap party following the finale last night, the boys have been doing press all day long, and they’re pretty much on-the-go for the next few weeks. Despite all the chaos, though, their spirits remain high. After all, they just won $100,000, a Sony recording contract, and a Sing-Off trophy. This afternoon, the members of Committed — Maurice Staple, Alain “Tommy” Gervais, Theron “Therry” Thomas, Robert “Robbie” Pressly, Dennis “DJ” Baptiste, and Geston Pierre — called us up to chat about their time on the popular reality competition. The humble gents opened up about representing the Christian community, the murky song selection process, and which group they thought was going to be their biggest competition on the show. Keep in mind that these guys are very close, and they love to finish each other’s sentences, so sometimes it was hard to tell who was speaking. Names, however, are used whenever the speaker introduced himself.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Congratulations on winning! Were you able to get any sleep last night?
COMMITTED: No, not really. We’re so tired!

How are you feeling now that it’s been couple hours, and things have been able to sink in?
It hasn’t sunk in yet.

Not at all?
Not at all. The experience has pretty much been a dream come true. We never thought in a million years that we’d ever be on television in front of millions and millions of people weekly, and for the support, and from where we come from — from singing in church to the stuff we did on the show. It was not expected at all.

Now, the finale was live last night, but the rest of the season was actually shot a few months ago, right? When did that occur?
August, beginning of September.

What was it like waiting for the show to debut? Were you wondering how audiences would respond?
ROBBIE PRESSLY: I know for me, I was extremely anxious. I just couldn’t wait for it to come out and for people to see our hard work and see what we’d been up to.

Did you all have to move from Huntsville, Ala., to L.A. for that period of time?
Yes. We were in a hotel.

Is that where all the contestants were staying?

That had to be a fun experience.
It was, because everyone was so fun to be around, and everyone was so musically inclined and talented and we had a lot of fun — we had jam sessions sometimes where we all got together and just sung, and everyone did the little beatbox. It was a lot of fun to be around people, and it made the experience a lot easier. It was like summer camp.

That’s one of the things that I love about the show — it captured the camaraderie that exists in the a cappella world. Speaking of which, what group would you all say you learned the most from?
DJ BAPTISTE: I think we took little things from each group. Some groups were really, really clean, and their vocals were perfect. Other groups had a great combination of being clean and really entertaining, not just standing there and singing like we kind of used to do at church — just snapping our fingers and stuff. So, I think we tried to take the best from each group and tried to use it.

What do you think was the toughest part of the competition for you all?
GESTON PIERRE: Well, we are Seventh-day Adventists, and we don’t do any work from Friday night sundown until Saturday night. That was a challenge for us because we had to take Sabbaths off, and as a result, we ended up behind, so we would have to catch up, basically. We’d spend countless hours — sometimes up until 4 a.m. Sunday and then we’d roll up for 8 a.m. rehearsal [the same] Sunday morning, so it was a lot of hard work, but we stood up for our beliefs, and we actually benefited from that day of rest. It was a privilege to have some time off because the realities of reality television are rigorous and scheduled, so it was nice to have our Sabbaths off.

Your faith was something I think a lot of people admired about you all, and the producers weren’t shy about labeling you as the “church boys” or the guys making “heavenly harmonies” every week. What did you all think of having that label so prominently attached to your group?
THERRY THOMAS: I really didn’t mind it. I’m not ashamed to tell you that I’m a Christian or anything, so it was actually an honor that they put us in that category.

Was there ever any tension about what songs you would sing, or what songs you might not want to represent because of your faith?
THERRY THOMAS: Well, for us, the most compromising one was the Usher medley. We took a risk and we did it. We don’t want to put any bad light on Christians. Probably if we went back and tried to do it again, we probably would have chosen something else. We’re not perfect. We mess up sometimes, but we just keep striving, just keep pushing forward, and can’t really look back. We don’t have any regrets, but if we could change anything, we would.

There’s been some debate in the EW comment sections about how songs are chosen and arranged. Can you enlighten us a little bit about how process works? Do you choose the songs or arrange them?
[Lots of mumbling]

So… what I’m gathering is that the producers would choose the songs and then Tommy would arrange them?

Interesting. Did you all get to put your own style into it?

So, if you all had to choose a favorite performance of yours from the whole show, what would it be?
It would probably be “Hold My Hand.” It’s the most positive and uplifting song that we’ve done. It was our last performance, and it just meant a lot to us.

What about a favorite from the other groups?
“Down on the Corner” by Street Corner [and] “Landslide” by Backbeats.

Let’s talk about dancing for a moment. A few times this season, I grilled you all for your lack of dancing. I’m sure it’s tough to live up to the choreography standard of a group like On The Rocks, but do you consider yourselves dancers at all?
As a group, no. I don’t think we think of ourselves as dancers. We still wanted to engage our audience by making some type of movement and with staging and what not. Tommy is the dancer of the group. What we did is we had a little rock to the left and right two-step, here and there, and some fingers. We wanted to stay in our zone and definitely make sure we didn’t compromise our vocals by moving a whole bunch. When you dance a lot, the chords won’t lock, so we stayed true to the one-two step. There was some choreo in the Backstreet Boys song, though!

In all the excitement last night, you mentioned that you would hope to tour with some of the other groups on the show. Is that something that is in the works?
Not really, but one can hope!

Let’s talk about your future album with Sony Music. In an ideal world, what kind of stuff do you want to showcase on there?
We definitely want to keep it inspirational. We don’t want to be stuck in a box per se — we want everyone to enjoy our music. We want to sing about life and everything that goes with life. We will have uptempo music. I don’t want people to think it will just be choral stuff. We will have some inspirational music, but we will have some uptempo music.

Since we’re talking about your sound, who are some of the groups you have listened to over the years?
GP: I personally am a big, big fan of Boyz II Men, Take Six, and, surprisingly, Groove For Thought. I’ve actually been a fan of Groove for Thought for about three years now. When I found out that we’d be competing against them, I was sad. I thought, “Man, we’re going to lose.” When they got eliminated, they only caught one of our guys, Maurice, crying on TV, but we all were crying. They were just super talented, and we definitely want to do something with them in the future.

Alright, instead of looking into the distant future, let’s looks at the immediate future. Right now, what comes next?
Well, we’re in the studio today –

You’re in the studio today?
Yes. We’re going to record “Hold My Hand,” the last one that we did.

So you are still on the clock for a while, I guess.
Yes, then on Thursday we’re headed to the Today Show in New York.

Well, you’ve clearly got a lot to do — you should get some sleep! Thanks for the chat.
Thank you, sir. It was an honor! Forgive us for it.

Comments (39 total) Add your comment
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  • Mr. Holloway

    I’m glad they liked “Hold My Hand” so much, because I thought it was their worst performance of the season.

    It’s a shame because – even though I’m happy Committed won, and I would’ve been happy if Street Corner Symphony had won – that final performance left a bad tase in my mouth.

    • CarolH

      I totally agree with you Mr. Holloway…I wanted and voted for Street Corner Symphony all the way…Committed was good but I am surprised that they won…that last song last night was terrible.

    • Monica

      I completely agree with everything you said.

      It’s interesting to hear the group’s perspective on their own work (as well as their peers’), particularly because it differs from mine. But a successful performance is sometimes about the experience itself, I suppose.
      I’m also glad that they touched upon the camaraderie everyone developed over the season; I thought it was glaringly apparent onscreen, but I appreciate the acknowledgement of it as well.

    • SaraJ

      Well, not everyone feels that way. I loved it, I thought it really came together in the 2nd half, and I also loved that it was a contemporary MJ piece.

      • Mr. Holloway

        Well, I didn’t mean to give the impression that I was speaking for everyone.

        I’m not a big fan of MJ’s “contemporary” stuff, so I thought it was a giant bore. I’ll give them credit for getting the audience involved/clapping along toward the end of a song people may not be as familiar with…that was smart.

  • gabs

    I love them! I’m so glad they won. “Hold my hand” was pretty good but my favorite they did was the Usher medley. “Apologize” was good too though. Street Corner Symphony was really great too. Id be happy either way. Interesting that they don’t pick the songs. I didn’t know the producers picked. Looking forward to their album!

  • Bama

    Last night they did not need to worry as much about their sound. But, I am still glad they won.

  • Newt

    I hope Committed will get to expand their pop song range in the studio; they are well versed in RB and gospel but they should add some blue eyed soul like “All Fall Down” by One Republic and Robin Thicke’s “Lost Without You” and “When I Get You Alone,” Hootie’s “Let Her Cry,” Linkin Park’s “Numb”, Springsteen’s “The River” and some Robbie Williams, “Angels,” and “She’s the One.” And “I wanna know what love is” by Foreigner. As much as I love Committed I felt there were so much better songs for them, but that their lack of pop knowledge held them back in making song choices. They didn’t choose Lady Gaga when Gaga’s songs have been huge hits for Glee and countless Youtube stars. Committed was my top choice, I hope they will have a long and fruitful career.

    • Still Love OTR

      Ahhhhh, Lost Without You by Robin Thicke would be SO AWESOME!!!


    I voted for SCS but am okay with Committed winning.

  • sweetness

    Awesome they desired their win. I hope they will record Al Green “Let Stay Together” that was heavenly. Again, the right team won. Bless

  • Lisa Simpson

    Yeah monkeys can sing. BFD.

    • Sandra

      @ Lisa Simpson- Hate Much!

    • Peter

      I’m going to assume this isn’t the thoughtful, well-spoken person who usually posts as Lisa Simpson.

      • Rolo Tomasi

        No it is me, the a hole trying to usurp her name because I wish to defame her name. d bags!!!

  • McProphet

    I wonder which one of them will come out of the closet first now that they’re in L.A. and don’t have to hid behind GAWD in Alabama?

    • McProphet


      • Lisa Simpson

        OH You know how the blacks hate h omos and have to be on the down low. Funny, how being either black or gay doubles your chances to get AIDs but to be both, oh my GAWD

  • Lola

    Committed was my pick from the first episode but then I became a fan of SCS and was pulling for them. A 1-2 finish in whatever order was OK with me. I’m sure some recording execs took note of SCS and/or their lead, Jeremy Lister. I respect Committed for sticking to their values. And my favorite part of the show, besides the outstanding talent? The incredible respect and friendships they had…you just can’t fake that sort of stuff!

  • Larry David

    Ah my racists brothas I so love to see how you come on board to hate on the monkeys. Please Oh Lord make the White

  • Larry David

    Ah my racists brothas I so love to see how you come on board to hate on the monkeys. Please Oh Lord make the White House White again!

  • Lisa

    Could EW please keep a closer eye on these message boards or allow people to report inflammatory material? These people (racist/ignorant/uneducated) are disgusting.

    • DivaSoulSista

      Thank you. It’s so pathetic that these people seem to thrive on making hateful comments.

  • JackieM

    Thanks for this interview. I still want to know if the producers picked the tunes ONLY for the last episode — as broadcasted that Ben Folds picked “Landslide” for Backbeats, etc — or all along? How is that possible, being that the groups prepared these songs beforehand?
    Also I want to know if they prepare most of the songs before the show, or while they’re on it? How many days between taping the eps?
    I thought it was really cool they were fans of Groove for Thought beforehand. Wish this show was on twice a year, or they made the prize $1 million…

    • Grady Smith

      Most tunes are prepared while on it. The general vibe I got was that each group was assigned a song to sing for that week, and it was their responsibility to arrange it.

  • Twilight

    “When you dance a lot, the chords won’t lock, so we stayed true to the one-two step. There was some choreo in the Backstreet Boys song, though!” They discovered the reason why the Backstreet Boys did NOT put as much effort into complex dance moves as did their “competition” nsync. Throughout most of their career they sang LIVE and not to the pretaped background vocals that JC Chazez admitted that nsync used because of their dance routines. Live harmonies are extremely difficult-and almost impossible while huffing and puffing during complex dance moves. You either concentrate on vocals or you highlight your dance. I prefer groups that put vocals first.

  • imho

    I’m not a singer, but I do have perfect pitch. Last night I watched this show for the first time, and when these guys sang – wow – it was hard to listen to. Someone (or two) was off key and it was really apparent. I was shocked to read that they won (I turned it off before they were done singing.)

    • Jenna

      THANK you. How people cannot tell how off pitch they go is beyond me. Especially one of their soloists… he is contantly flat. Disappointed. These boys seem like nice kids but their talent is nothing compared to SCS.

      • @Jenna

        my question is “did you vote”? Sure you can sit here on these blogs and complain, but apparently most of America didn’t feel the same.

      • Jenna

        Yes, I did vote.

    • MissMelly

      If you think Committed is the only ones who had pitch issues, you clearly may not have the ear that you think you do. All of the groups have had pitch problems even the most technically sound group, Groove for Thought. I think that Committed won despite theirs because all of the other groups had other weaknesses as well. For instance, SCS, although I loved them too, was basically a lead singer w/some backup, and to me didn’t feel/sound as cohesive as Committed. They relied far too much on their lead singer who demonstrated in a few of their performances how limited his range is. They also could have arranged their songs a bit better sometimes, especially the Beatles medley. It sounded awfully disjointed.

      • MzzCRNP

        Thank you!!! I’m sick of people picking on one group and claiming they were off while the others were spot on. You obviously don’t have the ears you think you do. Everyone had pitch problems!! I heard off people in ALL of the groups. Most people can’t stay on pitch. It isn’t that easy to do especially if you aren’t trained to sing properly.

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