Grammy winner Kuk Harrell is the vocal producer behind the forces of Cher, Lea Michele, Rihanna, Justin Bieber, and more. Yeah. It’s for real. Go ahead. Google it. There’s a reason that the New York Times calls him “the man behind the music”.
Earlier this year, Kuk Harrell conducted his own talent search to find the next musically talented superstar. We’re not just talking a one-hit-wonder. Kuk Harrell launches people into the megastar big time. Who better to bring someone into the music biz than the man who is truly behind the music that makes not just the U.S., but the world – dance.
Kuk Harrell’s Worldwide Internet Talent Search narrowed down twenty top finalists to a final few, and then with the spotlight shining on them from Marie Osmond and her show, Marie, on the Hallmark Channel, the number one pick was chosen. Meet: Kyl Means.
Kyl Means entered Kuk Harrell’s talent search after the 20 finalists were chosen. He performed a cover of “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bonnie Raitt, which secured him a position as one of the top twenty – well, top twenty-one at the time.
Means grew up in Peoria, IL and now lives in Kansas City, Missouri. At 22, he’s already got his first single out [“Intermission”] on iTunes under Kuk Harrell’s Suga Wuga Music record label. Means first performed it for a national audience on Marie; however, Means is a veteran when it comes to performing in front of others.
“I have been singing my whole life. I would play at a lot of bars and blues festivals with my dad, growing up. I mainly played in the Midwest in bars and blues fests. Since moving to Kansas City I have been able to travel all over the U.S. singing,” says Means about his performances coast-to-coast.
He’s also a full-time singer on the staff at the International House of Prayer. His vocal and musical abilities are natural to him. He’s never had vocal training. That always amazes me when someone’s just born with talent. His inspiration includes everyone from his father, Mike Means, to JoJo, Usher, Adele, Chris Brown, and more. He admits he could keep going with his list of musical influences. Means knew he loved to sing the first time he heard music! He also plays harmonica, guitar, drums, bass, and piano.
That should impress you, because it certainly impressed Kuk Harrell, who knows a star when he sees one, before they hit the big time. He always seems to catch that rising star on their way up. (If you know “Umbrella” by Rihanna, or “Single Ladies” by Beyoncé, well, you’ve heard Kuk’s work at hand.)
"Besides having an amazing voice, I realized that Kyl is a highly gifted musician. He plays guitar and is a monster player of the harmonica! Another strong ability of Kyl's is his comfort level in front of an audience," shares Harrell.
Not everyone can catch Harrell’s finely tuned eye and ear in the music business, though. It takes someone special with that “it” factor, as Harrell calls it. What caught and kept Harrell’s attention when it came to Means is when he put him to the test:
"…his ability to take a song that I gave him 2 days to learn and make it his own. He was able to keep the song, as it was written, intact, but still pour his personality all over it!" says Harrell.
It sounds simple, but when Means and the other finalists were put to task with the same melody, there’s only so much you can differentiate yourself from the competition without completely losing the original vision of the song.
Means also backs up his talent with effort, heart-felt interest, and his go-getter style. From a casual browsing session online, Means tracked down Kuk Harrell on Twitter and submitted his video to the talent search.
“I love to produce music, and I love the way Kuk gets vocals sounding. So I was on YouTube, and I came across this interview of him on a show called Pensado's Place. I looked on the side where there are related videos, and I saw Kuk Harrell’s Worldwide Internet Talent Search. In the video [I submitted] I said, ‘Maybe I could be 21’. (as in the 21st finalist, since 20 were already chosen) I believe it was my persistence [and] knowing he had already picked his top 20,” explains Means how he edged his way into the first season of “Who’s Next”.
If you think you’ve got that “it” factor, there’s good news guys! Starting at the end of August, the second season of Kuk Harrell’s Worldwide Talent Search is taking off!
“Season 2 of Kuk Harrell's World Wide Internet Talent Search kicks off at the end of August! I'm so fired-up about the next season because of all of the crazy talent that is submitting already!” shares Harrell.
Yes! Singers are submitting already! Wait, what? Yes. So get your best performance out on YouTube ASAP. Grab the link, then go tweet on Twitter to @kukharrell and tag #WhosNext. Maybe you will get your chance to break through into the music industry just like Kyl Means did!
Means sees himself in the future as performing and traveling all over the world, in addition to writing and producing music. Kuk Harrell’s music label and guidance will lead him down the path to do just that.
Harrell gives us a glimpse into Means’ future: “We will be recording his next single with Suga Wuga Music within the next few months for sure! Some of the things that we will focus on heavily is Kyl as a brand - making sure that he sees himself as a brand, which puts the focus on his social media presence and growth. The whole thing will be based on him being developed into a viable artist. I see Kyl having several singles out with videos having massive success here in the States, set to make an impact internationally.”
Since Means’ winning moment on Marie, he’s been working with Kuk Harrell on artist development and writing songs.
“Kuk has me in the mode to where our whole team is sure that when we launch, I know how to connect with my target audience,” says Means. “Because of Kuk's heart and expertise… making sure I'm a true superstar… he's really just taking me through all stages of artist development: image, songs, media training, etc.”
As anyone knows, image and getting your name out there in any industry is just as important as talent and drive. And Harrell definitely puts his heart into what he does – which is why his success with artists soars.
….so you can say you knew them when….