Meet the 12 Aspiring Singers in Samsung’s Billboard and NXT 2.0 Singing Contest – Billboard

Samsung and Billboard are on the hunt for the next unsigned superstar in the NXT 2.0 Singing Contest and the race has taken it to the next level.

After reviewing the submissions, 12 contestants have been selected in a one-of-a-kind competition, which will equip them with devices such as Samsung’s new Galaxy Z Flip4 and Buds2 Pro to compete in three challenges. It all starts when the dozen show off their creativity in Challenge 1, where they’ll be tasked with putting their own spin on the same song. Over the next six weeks, budding stars will be ranked on a specialized scoreboard until the top-ranked trio advances to the next stage of the competition. From there, finalists will be paired with a celebrity mentor and prepare for the grand finale in front of a live audience and top judges in Los Angeles.



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With prices like a Billboard digital coverage and studio time to record their debut single, the competition is bound to heat up. Not only do the candidates represent 10 different states, but the diverse group is made up of varying ages and backgrounds. Ahead of Challenge 1, Billboard is giving readers a look at the contestants competing for Samsung and Billboard NXT’s season two title winner.

Photograph by Gene Reed

André Leonforte


Singing has been Leonforte’s passion for as long as he can remember. Her stints in weddings and musical theater growing up are proof of that. As a self-taught pianist, the Bronx-born singer-songwriter has engaged his social media with his musical talents, which touch on everything from ballads to upbeat dancing. “All I want to do is express myself and my thoughts, through my songs,” he explained.

Anthony Ponce De Leon

Ellie B

While listening to Motown, R&B, and rap in her teens, Ellie B’s love for Latin music and culture changed her life. After living in Colombia in 2016, the bilingual act immersed themselves in the Latin dance community, traveling and performing Bachata and Salsa with various professional teams. Earlier this year, she released her debut single, “Infiel.”

Kenny Kenny Photography



If you’ve followed FIKI on social media, you already know that the Nigerian-American singer doesn’t hesitate to put her personal touch on Rihanna and Tems. With her name translating to “warrior” in Yoruba, the New York-based Afrobeats star has had the opportunity to perform on stages including the Apollo Theater and the African Diaspora Awards. More recently, the talent released a new Afrobeats-laden single titled “No Wahala.”

Francois Shad

Julian King


An alumnus of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where he earned a BA in vocal performance, King, who is black and Japanese, markets himself as a “next-gen heartfelt R&B purveyor” with the dance moves to match. With his church upbringing and a debut album under his belt, the Philadelphia native’s blend of R&B with pop sensualities can be heard on his social media, with nods to his all-time favorite artist. time, Jazmine Sullivan.

Kevin Rose

Kyn Rose


Born in Toronto, Canada, Rose is quick to take you to a dreamy headspace, thanks to his social media freestyle. With his guitar usually in tow, the singer/producer, who is also a recording engineer, is determined to add his ethereal R&B/pop to this year’s competition.

Wesley Volcy



Lordus has worked hard on her music career and she has the credentials to back her up. Born to Haitian parents in Brooklyn, New York, the singer has navigated her sound and artistry, largely influenced by ’90s R&B. In addition to sharing mashup covers and her journey as an independent actor on the social media, Lourdes’ talents have extended to platforms like the Essence Festival and HOT 97. She is currently working on a six-track musical project.

Mar’yana Hicks

Mar’yana Hicks


Storytelling is the engine of Hicks’ musicality. Hailing from Louisville, Kentucky, the budding singer used her teenage years to shape her musical journey. As an adopted child from Ukraine, the singer/songwriter is not afraid to incorporate her experiences into her songs.

Alejandro Pazmino

Nicole Tortolani


Born in San Antonio, Texas and raised in Venezuela, Tortolani has also used her experience to shape her art. Although she has immersed herself in a variety of genres, the singer/songwriter is more drawn to the urban/pop realm and the looks of her nearly one million followers on TikTok, she’s certainly making her presence known. .



Nyla McDaniel

Nyla XO


Nyla puts her effort into both the vocal booth and the backstage action. The Los Angeles-born, Chicago-based singer/songwriter/producer often finds herself behind a lens shooting and editing her own videos, or designing visuals for her musical projects. Focusing her music on the human experience, she hopes to encourage listeners to find connection through her songs.

Kenny Kenny Photography

Peyton McMahon


Once referred to as a “white boy with a soul” during a gig with american idol Inaugural champion Kelly Clarkson, Peyton intends to take her 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.

Sitaraman Studios



With over a million streams of her original songs and video productions on YouTube and Spotify, the Arizona singer/songwriter and songwriter is known for leaning into synthwave and modern R&B to craft her distinctive sound. The secret to her unique output sees her drawing inspiration from her roots in Indian classical music, smooth jazz and Motown-inspired pop/rock.

Juan Jimenez



A self-proclaimed “music lover,” passionate about 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 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.

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