By Tanner Stransky
Updated June 21, 2012 at 06:00 AM EDT

N.B.T. Next Big Thing

  • Music

The latest music-filled Disney Original Movie, Let It Shine — sort of a modern-day retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac with singing — premiered last Friday on the cable network to a very healthy 5.7 million viewers, and its soundtrack peaked at No. 1 on the iTunes soundtrack chart and No. 9 on the overall soundtrack chart. But a fact you may not realize about the movie is that its star, Coco Jones, was discovered via a talent competition — N.B.T. or Next Big Thing — that’s hosted by the cable channel’s sister music arm, Radio Disney, once each year. The fifth season of the competition is prepping to launch, and EW has an exclusive preview of the five acts that will be competing through this cycle.

Before we give you a little background on this season’s five competing musical acts — you can find a bit of info about them and a video performance from each below — let’s take a minute to learn a bit about the N.B.T. competition. Besides the aforementioned Jones, N.B.T. has launched the careers of recording artists Kicking Daisies, Shealeigh, and Allstar Weekend. It’s a multi-platform competition that puts the spotlight on aspiring young recording artists and showcases their music across national broadcast and online platforms. Over the course of 10 weeks, Radio Disney and Disney Channel audiences are invited to look, listen, and vote for their favorite artists.

Credit: Lewis Jacobs/NBC

This season, the winner will perform on the hit Disney Channel series Austin & Ally (Ross Lynch as Austin Moon from that series is pictured here), have a single released by Disney Music Group, and be the opening act for popular Radio Disney recording artists at the N.B.T. finale concert this year in Los Angeles. Radio Disney and Disney Channel audiences will determine the winner when they are invited to look listen, and vote for their favorite artist. Of course, you’ll get a preview of the competitors below, but they’ll also be introduced during a first-ever, three-night showcase at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort this Friday through Sunday at 8 p.m. ET. Season 4 N.B.T. winner Shealeigh and runner-up Zack Montana will also perform during the show, which will be hosted by Radio Disney on-air personality and N.B.T. host Jake Whetter. After that, the five competitors will leave for N.B.T. On Tour Powered by Invisalign Teen that launches July 1 at Chicago’s Taste of Joliet, before hitting 15 cities including Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta, Sacramento, and Seattle.

And now for for what we promised you — a preview of the season 5 competitors:

Chloe Bailey, 13, and Halle Bailey, 12, sister R&B singers and actresses from Atlanta, Ga.:

Jack Skuller, 16, rockabilly singer and songwriter from Hoboken, N.J.:

Katherine Hughes, 17, acoustic pop singer and actress from New York, N.Y.:

Elle Winter, 13, pop singer, songwriter, and actress from New York, N.Y.:

Damian Otchere, 16, pop and R&B singer, dancer, and actor originally from Brooklyn, N.Y., currently residing in East Orange, N.J.:

And just for fun — note she is not a competitor this season, as she won last season — here’s the announcement of season 4 N.B.T. winner Shealeigh, including a performance:

Lastly, for another taste of N.B.T. talent, here’s a performance from Let it Shine with Jones and co-star Tyler Williams:

Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky

N.B.T. Next Big Thing

  • Music