Meleana Brown's whirlwind experience on the ABC singing competition "Duets" lasted just three episodes, but the Hawaii-raised singer-songwriter said she couldn't have hoped for a better opportunity.
"It was a really good experience (and) I learned a lot," Brown said by phone from Los Angeles on Thursday. "To get advice from all (the judges), who are all performers who have been doing this for so long, I learned so much from all of them."
Meleana Brown. (Courtesy ABC)
Brown wasn't originally cast to be a part of "Duets," which pairs amateur singers with professional recording artists Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Nettles, John Legend and Robin Thicke. When finalist Johnny Gray was dismissed from the show after the first episode, Brown auditioned for his spot and was in front of cameras singing alongside Legend less than 24 hours later.
After an impressive performance of "Endless Love" received high praise from the judges, Brown breezed through the show's first elimination. The following week, however, was a bit more difficult. Her rendition of Alicia Keys' "If I Ain't Got You" put her in the middle of the pack at fifth place; safe from elimination, but far from the best performance of the night.
On Wednesday, Brown regrouped and surprised the judges and "Duets" audience by singing Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone."
"You know, John really wanted me to challenge myself," she said. "I sing more ballads … that's my forte. John wanted me to challenge myself and show another side of my personality.
"I had a blast up there. Is there another I song I would have chosen? No. I really had a good time."
The visible joy Brown exhibited during her time on stage in this week's episode wasn't enough to keep her safe from elimination. Ranked sixth out of seven finalists, she was forced to face off in an a cappella battle against Olivia Chisholm, with the losing singer out of the competition.
After Brown performed Whitney Houston’s “Saving All My Love for You,” Chisholm followed with the Bonnie Raitt classic, “I Can’t Make You Love Me.”
“You have completely different voices,” said Clarkson during the broadcast. “We’re voting on apples and oranges right now.”
The judges’ positive comments earlier in the episode apparently betrayed their scores for Brown, however, once “Duets” host Quddus announced she was the one going home.
"I really hope that … the superstars judged me based on my performance," she said. "Also the interaction with my duet partner, John. I believe we had really good chemistry and we always connected."
As "Duets" continues into its live elimination rounds on June 28 without Brown, she said she'll use her experience on the show to continue her pursuit of musical success. Now living in Los Angeles, she said she'll continue to write, record and perform her own original music to "bring it out there and people will know I'm still around." She plans to return to Oahu early next month, with a tentative gig lined up at Pearl Harbor on July 4; follow her on Twitter and Facebook for updates.
"More than anything, I just want to thank Hawaii for supporting me," said Brown. "I still want to represent Hawaii and my culture and heritage and where I'm from."
After airing for another week on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. on KITV, "Duets" returns to its regularly scheduled day and time of 7 p.m. Thursdays on June 28.
Jason Genegabus is Entertainment Editor/Online at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and has covered the local nightlife, music, bar and entertainment scenes since 2001. Contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.