I chatted with Dontavies Boatwright.
You may be thinking “but, EJ… Sunday Best is over… let it go.” To that, I say “hush up” and “so what?!”
The PEOPLE we met on the show still exist and their ministries are still going, if not more so. Last year, folks saw a bunch of talented contestants, but where are they now?
SO, I’m committed to making sure that we at least follow-up with a handful of the people… and Dontavies Boatwright is a GREAT guy with whom to kick things off! Lots of us loved his soaring baritone and thought he was eliminated too soon. I definitely wanna see more from him… and I think we will.
In this interview, Dontavies dispels LOTS of rumors about the show, as well as gives us the real deal about how production went down (cuz y’all are STILL mad about “how BET did us”). And we’ll hear what he’s up to now and how we can keep up with him in the future.
Are ya ready??? Here’s my chat with Dontavies Boatwright…
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EJ: What’s up, man?
DB: I’m good, guy. How are you?
EJ: I’m good. Thank you for chatting with me.
DB: Absolutely. My pleasure!
EJ: Why don’t we start by talking about your experience on Sunday Best. What was it like for you?
DB: It was unbelievable. To be there with all the contestants and the artists… I mean, I’ve got their CDs in my car, and to be standing there face-to-face with them was amazing.
EJ: Sounds like a great experience! Do you feel like the show always “fair”? Even if you hoped for a different outcome for yourself, do you feel like there were some aspects of the show that kinda weren’t fair or was it pretty even?
DB: I think it was pretty even.
EJ: Good. You were eliminated how many contestants in?
DB: I made it to the top 5.
EJ: And what did you feel like that night, when you were eliminated?
DB: *laughs* Honestly, my first thought was “this is not happening.”
DB: I mean, I’m gonna be honest. I’m not gonna sugarcoat it. I was like “what happened?! This cannot be happening. I’m not supposed to go home.”
I can’t say that someone should’ve gone home over me, but I was just reviewing it in my mind… it was so quick. When they called my name and said we were going home, I immediately began to play back my song in my head, like “what did I do wrong?”
DB: But at the end of the day, it was a competition and the judges had a job to do. So I guess reviewing things, it was just my time. I’m grateful to have made it that far, though, to the top 5.
EJ: Absolutely. And congratulations, because it wasn’t easy. Watching the auditions, there were some phenomenal vocalists who weren’t even put through, so I was like “I dunno what it TAKES!”
EJ: When you watched back, week by week, is what America saw really what happened in Atlanta? Are there things you wish they had shown that they edited out of the final tape?
DB: I do wish that they had shown the shout-out that I gave to my hometown, which is Fort Pierce, Florida. When I said, initially, who I was and where I was from, I said I was from Fort Pierce, Florida, now living in Jacksonville, and they only gave the shout-out to Jacksonville. And I wish they had kept that in because my hometown has supported me.
DB: But that was it. I mean, mostly, what you see is really what happened. There were some things that were edited in production, but it was what it was.
EJ: Good deal. Now, folks were HIGHLY disappointed with several aspects of the show and I want to get your reaction to some of those criticisms.
It all boils down to expectations, in my mind. Viewers EXPECTED Sunday Best to run like a gospel American Idol.
EJ: But the reality is that it costs A LOT of money to produce a show like Idol. So, television magic is used to cuts some costs and a lot of the viewers felt like they didn’t get what they expected.
Talk to me about the taping schedule. The show was taped over the course of a week or so?
DB: Actually, it was two weeks. One thing I do wish is that we had longer so that our voices had time to rest. But with the time, and because of the budgeting, I think the show was presented in the best light possible considering those things.
The schedule was tight. 8:00 or 9:00 in the morning call times… there all day.
EJ: You were there all day?
DB: All day. 30 or 40 minutes between shows…
EJ: Wow. Taped two shows a day?
DB: Yes. Most of the time, it was two shows a day. I think, as it got down to the last ones, there was one show a day. But the schedule was still tight. And if we weren’t taping, we were in rehearsal.
EJ: So, what was that like for the contestants? You were there for two weeks, but the contestants who were “sent home,” actually just sat in the audience and watched?
DB: The second group of 10 did. The first group, if I remember correctly, they were there for the second group’s first show, then went home.
I know it looked like, week-to-week, I stayed there, but my elimination show and the show when Zebulon came back, those were taped the same day.
EJ: And the second group of 10, those who were eliminated stayed until the end?
DB: Pretty much everyone stayed ’til the end…
EJ: And what was the dynamic like for those contestants in the audience, knowing that your friends were continuing on and you were just there… chillin’?
DB: From the audience, it was like “I’m supposed to be UP THERE! What happened?!” And again, for me, this was the same day. I got eliminated, went backstage and did an interview, switched clothes, and came to sit in the audience.
So, it wasn’t like I had time to think. My mindset was still the same. I was like “I’m supposed to be up there, I have my song, I know what I’m supposed to be singing, I’ve got my wardrobe picked out…”
EJ: Oh man… that’s rough!
DB: But again, I wouldn’t let that overshadow my rooting for my fellow contestants because we were like a family. I know you’ve heard this a million times, but it really was true.
DB: I mean, we bonded. We were helping each other with song arrangements. And I’ve done many vocal competitions, but I’ve never seen that.
EJ: Yeah, and that definitely comes across as authentic. I’ve heard it, like you said, from a bunch of y’all by now– Jessica, Camille, Y’Anna, Latice… everyone has said “we are family.” And they meant it.
DB: Right. We talk on the phone on a regular basis, we text… I did a radio show on Sunday and the top 6 called in to say “wassup.”
EJ: Very nice. That’s a great take-away. Talk to me about the finale, cuz people had an issue with THAT being pre-taped, too.
Everyone talked about the lack of emotion on the faces of Y’Anna and Jessica. I say, it’s just hard to script that type of stuff and I don’t fault them for it. What are your thoughts on how it turned out?
DB: I didn’t see it as a problem considering the schedule. There were two endings that were taped and two takes of BOTH endings. So, getting up there, doing the commercial with the ladies, hair and make-up… it was a lot.
I would’ve liked for there to have been some rest. If there had been some rest time, they could’ve maybe cried or staged some emotion. But I think we’re lucky to get what we got from them.
DB: Yeah, I mean… a really really tight schedule.
EJ: Okay, dispel some myths for me– did the judges already have a favorite among you all?
DB: If they did, they didn’t let on.
EJ: Cool. Umm… I’m trying to think of other rumors I’ve seen around the internet… Did one of the BET producers have some sort of professional or social relationship with one of the contestants that led to some unfairness there?
DB: If that’s the case, I wanna know who that is, because it wasn’t me! *laughing*
DB: I mean, again, I don’t know about any of that going on. I don’t even know when we’d have time. The contestants were all in the same hotel, but not the judges or BET staff, aside from those assisting us at the hotel.
EJ: Yeah, and that’s what I’d assume. I didn’t get the sense from speaking to anyone that there was anything shady going on.
DB: Not at all.
EJ: Now, you were one of the contestants that folks really loved. I remember saying on GospelPundit that your voice is needed in the industry. What’s next for you?
DB: I’m definitely listening to music now, exercising my writing skills… trying to put some foundational things in place– management, a publicist. I’m looking forward to what’s next for me.
I definitely wanna do plays. I do aspire to work with Tyler Perry, so I’m trying to create a package of some plays that I’ve done to kinda pitch something to him and the theater world. So, hopefully soon, there will be something out that the fans can have in their hands.
EJ: Very nice. You were trained in theater?
DB: Yes. I have a theater background and an opera background. Gospel is my first love, though.
EJ: And that’s cool because not many people are bringing that element to gospel music. I think that’s one of the reasons so many people liked you– they could see the passion, but also hear the formal training in there.
And it wasn’t fake training, you know… cuz some singers have never been trained, but they try to get that sound. *laughs*
EJ: And I’m not gonna name names, but I’m just sayin’… *laughs*
EJ: Where can people find out more about you, man?
EJ: Yes, you ARE on Twitter and I noticed something from your daily tweets– anyone who loves coffee half as much as I do, you’ve gotta be a good dude!
DB: I’ve GOTTA have my Starbucks in the morning!
EJ: Got to! *laughs* And you’re a trained vocalist and you’re saying coffee is ok, right?
DB: I would say decaf. And I increase my water intake when I drink coffee. Caffeine dries you out, so I increase my water intake.
EJ: Hmmm… I’m not big on decaf, but I’ll try.
DB: Yeah, it’s an acquired taste, but once you do it, you’re fine. I laid off Coke… I do drink Sprite, but Donald Lawrence took me off of carbonated drinks while we were there.
EJ: He said no carbonated drinks at all?
DB: He said “I advise NO carbonated drinks.” So, I adhered to that, but when I came home…
DB: *laughs* I’m tellin’ you. Before I got my BAG, I got a Sprite.
EJ: Hilarious! *laughs* Dude, thanks for the chat. I’m excited for you cuz I think you’re gonna do well in the industry.
DB: I appreciate it, man, definitely. Just coming from someone who knows and talks to artists, with an eye on that stuff, I do appreciate it.
EJ: No, I’m just lil’ ol’ me. But I really do believe we’ll see you doing stuff.
DB: Well, thank you.
EJ: No doubt. And we’ll talk soon.
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Dontavies is a COOL dude. No lie. Make sure you check him out on MySpace and Twitter. Like I keep saying, I really think we’re gonna see more of him.
What did you guys think???