Samsung and Billboard are on the hunt for the next unsigned superstar in the NXT 2.0 singing competition and the race has advanced to the next level.
After vetting through submissions, 12 contenders have been selected in the one-of-a-kind competition, which will arm them with devices like Samsung’s new Galaxy Z Flip4 and Buds2 Pro to compete over three challenges. It will all begin when the dozen showcase their creativity in Challenge 1, where they’ll be tasked with putting their own spin on the very same song. Over the next six weeks, the budding stars will be rated on a specialty Billboard chart until the top ranked trio advance to the next stage of the competition. From there, the finalists will be paired with a celebrity mentor and prepare for the grand finale in front of a live audience and A-list judges in Los Angeles.
With prizes like a Billboard digital cover story and studio time to record their first single, the competition is bound to get heated. Not only do the contestants rep 10 different states, but the diverse group is made up of various ages and backgrounds. Ahead of Challenge 1, Billboard is offering readers an overview of the contestants competing for the winning title of season two of Samsung and Billboard NXT.
Singing has been Leonforte’s passion for as long as he can remember. His stints in weddings and musical theater while growing up is proof of that. As a self-taught piano player, the Bronx-born singer/songwriter has engaged his social media following with his musical talents, which touch on everything from ballads to uptempo dance. “All I want to do is express myself and my thoughts, through my songs,” he explained.
While she listened to Motown, R&B and rap in her adolescent years, Ellie B’s love for Latin music and culture has changed her life. After living in Colombia in 2016, the bilingual act has immersed herself in the Latin dance community, traveling and performing Bachata and Salsa with various professional teams. Earlier this year, she released her debut single, “Infiel.”
If you’ve been following FIKI on social media, you already know that the Nigerian-American singer is quick to put her spin on the likes of Rihanna and Tems. With her name translating to “warrior” in Yoruba, the Afrobeats star, who is based in New York City, has had the opportunity to perform on stages like the Apollo Theater and the African Diaspora Awards. Most recently, the talent released a new Afrobeats-charged single called “No Wahala.”
An alum of Philadelphia University of the Arts, where he graduated with a BA in Vocal Performance, King, who is Black and Japanese, touts himself as a “purveyor of heartfelt next-gen R&B” with the dance moves to pair. With his church upbringing and a debut album under his belt, the Philly native’s blend of R&B, with pop sensualities, can be heard across his social media, with nods to his all-time favorite artist, Jazmine Sullivan.
Born in Toronto, Canada, Rose is quick to bring you into a dreamy headspace, courtesy of his freestyling on social media. With his guitar typically in-tow, the singer/producer, who also serves as an audio engineer, is determined to add his ethereal R&B/pop to this year’s competition.
Lordus has been hard at work on her music career and she has the credentials to back it up. Born to Haitian parents in Brooklyn, New York, the singer has been navigating her sound and artistry, which is largely influenced by ’90s R&B. In addition to sharing mashup covers and her journey as an indie act on social media, Lordus’ talents have extended to platforms like the Essence Festival and HOT 97. She’s currently working on a six-track music project.
Storytelling is the driving force behind Hicks’s musicality. Hailing from Louisville, Kentucky, the aspiring singer has used her adolescent years to help shape her music journey. As an adopted child from Ukraine, the singer/songwriter isn’t afraid to incorporate her experiences into her songs.
Born in San Antonio, Texas and raised in Venezuela, Tortolani has also used her experience to shape her artistry. While she’s dipped into a variety of genres, the singer/songwriter is most drawn to the urban/pop realm and by the looks of her almost-one million following on TikTok, she’s certainly making her presence known.
Nyla puts her efforts into both the vocal booth and the behind the scenes action. The Chicago-based singer/songwriter/producer, who was born in Los Angeles, can often be found behind a lens shooting and editing her own videos, or designing visuals for her music projects. Focusing her music on the human experience, she hopes to encourage listeners to find connection throughout her songs.
Once referred to as a “white boy with soul” during a live performance with American Idol inaugural champ Kelly Clarkson, Peyton is intent on taking his music to the next level. Hailing from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the singer started sharing cover songs on social media a decade ago and has since kicked his dreams into high gear with soon-to-be-released original material.
With over one million streams to her original songs and video productions on YouTube and Spotify, the Arizonan singer/songwriter and composer is known for honing in on synthwave and modern R&B to create her distinctive sound. The secret to her unique output sees her draw inspiration from her roots in Indian classical music, smooth jazz and Motown-inspired pop/rock.
A self-described “music aficionado,” with a passion for media and fashion, Wampy hails from Chicago and is ready to bring his love for pop, R&B and neo-soul into the competition. Since moving to New York City in the early 2000s, the bicultural talent has found inspiration through art and culture, citing Stevie Wonder, Craig David and Jessie Reyez as musical influences.