Midtown Raleigh News

Online music contest will raise money for veterans

Local musicians will get a shot at fame this fall through a statewide American Idol-style competition – while raising money to help military veterans.

The first Bands4Good Challenge begins this month with a call for music video submissions inspired by the military experience. The contest starts in October when the videos are posted online for viewers to vote with their wallets – making contributions to a veterans charity to back one of the contestants.

“We want to help aspiring musicians to get unprecedented exposure and, in the process, raise money,” said Fred Fletcher Jr., who’s heading up the event through his new company, Doing Good Network.

Fletcher, a commercial real-estate broker and son of the late WRAL broadcaster, is creating an unusual model – a for-profit charity – with a goal of raising $1.5 million through the talent competition.

“I wanted to find a way to give back,” he said. “I’m a big fan of the music reality shows. I love the way they help aspiring musicians.”

Fletcher, according to the Doing Good website, thinks he can make charitable work more effective with a new approach: “add a profit motive and run it like a business.”

Musicians have until Sept. 25 to write an original song on a military service theme and upload their video.

“It’s any subject they feel compelled to write about,” Fletcher said.

The theme should be an easy one for Dale Beatty, a National Guard sergeant from Statesville who lost both legs in Iraq. Beatty plans to enter with his band, Outlaw 21.

“They were a huge part of my therapy and my rehab,” he said.

Beatty has another reason to support the effort: His nonprofit, Purple Heart Homes, is one of the beneficiaries of the fundraiser. Beatty’s group helps remodel and build homes for disabled veterans. Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Veterans Leadership Council will also get a share of the money raised.

The participants won’t all be established groups such as Outlaw 21. Nate Myers is working with about eight kids at the Raleigh Boys and Girls Club to create a musical act called the Malkuta Project. He says they’ll be putting together a song.

Online voting on the videos begins Oct. 2, with the top six contenders competing live at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts on Nov. 10. Winners get a package of music industry perks like studio time worth about $100,000.

Once the first top musical act is crowned, Fletcher plans to start again with a different theme and different charities.