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Interview:
Ferndale resident sings his way into national TV show
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

» See more SOUND CHECK

Phil Elam is an actor, singer and award-winning short filmmaker.

And now the Ferndale resident is on a national TV show with the first song he's ever written.

Elam is one of 15 finalists, draw from more than 2,000 entrants, for "The Song," a new reality show directed by reality show veteran Michael Braverman that filmed its first episode over the weekend in Muncie, Ind. The show is slated to air this fall and is currently negotiating a network deal.

"It was fun," Elam says of the experience, though he's contractually prohibited from saying too much about his fate or how the show will pan out once it's on the air. Elam was encouraged to submit a song -- "Why Am I Crying?" -- by music producer Mark Liggett, a friend who's worked with Blessid Union of Soul, Shannon and others. "I thought only a couple of hundred people would enter. It turned out there were 2,000. That was crazy."

Elam -- whose acting credits include "Ides of March," "Oz The Great and Powerful" and "Real Steel" -- is no strange to music. As a singer he's opened for Nelly and the Village People. He also wrote, executive produced and was the lead actor in the short film "Swing Low," which was directed by Marvin Towns Jr. and won Gold honors at the Independent Film Awards.

He also co-owns Justus Clothing, which donates one article of clothing to a homeless shelter for every one it sells.

"The Song" will focus on the creation of a song, including the recording process and live performance. In Muncie the show's contestants were filmed working at state-of-the-art recording facilities at Ball State University and then playing their compositions at the school's Pruis Hall on Saturday, March 12, before celebrity judges.

"The performances were amazing," Elam says. "And the crowds were absolutely amazing and pumped-up for what was going on."

And throughout the three days of filming, Elam made sure that the audiences and his fellow contestants knew where he came from.

"I advocated this city at every single turn," Elam says. "I wore a Bob Seger shirt. If we were all standing around and a Madonna record came on, I'm like, 'Detroit!' If they don't remember anything else about me, they will say, 'First and foremost, Phil's from Detroit.' I pushed Detroit like nobody's business."

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