TV show denies drama over Kiwi rap star's reality TV audition

J.Williams and former partner Larissa Brown at the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards in 2010.

J.Williams and former partner Larissa Brown at the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards in 2010.

Television producers have denied there was anything wrong when a Kiwi R and B singer who had a string of chart-topping hits and a major record deal appeared on an Australia talent quest show under a different name.

J Williams won Vodafone Music and Silver Scrolls awards, had a platinum-selling single and and a record deal with a subsidiary of Warners before his career imploded over domestic violence allegations.

J. Williams with Waitakere College student Jenny Be.

J. Williams with Waitakere College student Jenny Be.

He turned up this week auditioning on The X Factor Australia under his real name, Joshua, with no mention of his career history.

But TV producers have denied there was anything wrong in that - despite it apparently breaching their own rules.

According to The X Factor application form terms and conditions, auditioning talent should generally not have "previously entered into any commercial, contractual, sponsorship or other agreement or arrangement with any person, firm or company in respect of musical and/or performing abilities."

Singer Brock Ashby has been through the X Factor experience once before.
John Bisset

Singer Brock Ashby has been through the X Factor experience once before.



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However the show states that if an applicant has had existing industry experience, they are required to "immediately notify the producer as soon as is reasonably practicable."

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The New Zealand version of the show, also produced by FremantleMedia Australia, abides by the same set of guidelines.

FremantleMedia said the TV show had "a long history" of working with artists with previous industry experience - although it pitches itself as a "music competition to find new singing talent, contested by aspiring singers".

"We ask our contestants to share with us their previous music experience, recording and management contracts at the time they audition," a spokesman said.

"They can not have a current recording contract as they need to be eligible to sign with Sony Music should they win."

But Williams' brief audition inclusion, singing a cover of Ginuwine's 1996 hit Pony, featured no mention of his musical history or industry success here in New Zealand.

Born in South Auckland, he relocated to Australia after allegations of domestic violence surfaced in the media.

In 2011, Williams was selected as one of former Auckland Mayor Len Brown's 'First 15' ambassadors to promote the Rugby World Cup, however was forced to step down from his role after his former partner of two years, stylist Larissa Brown, went public with domestic abuse allegations.

The couple broke-up several months before the birth of their first child.

Before that, Williams enjoyed a number of music industry accolades and a string of number one hits. The R&B singer officially signed to record label Illegal Musik, a subsidiary of Warner Music NZ, in 2008.

In February 2010, Williams' certified platinum-selling single You Got Me, featuring rapper Scribe, peaked at number one on the New Zealand Singles Chart. In December 2010, the track was officially announced as the number one selling single of the year.

That same year, Williams received three nods at the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards and a coveted APRA Silver Scroll nomination for his collaboration with Scribe. 

Between 2008 and 2011, he reportedly received over $100,000 in New Zealand on Air funding. This included $50,000 to produce an album, and multiple smaller grants to produce music videos.

The X Factor franchise, created by former American Idol judge Simon Cowell in 2004, became an international success after its debut season and provided a springboard for aspiring new musical talent.

In keeping with previous years, this season's winner of the Australian talent series "will be rewarded with a recording contract with Sony Music Australia."

 - Stuff


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