Most musicians dream of showing off their talents at the Grammy Awards at some point during their career, but a trio of local performers is vying for a chance to do so before they even sign their first record contract.
Based out of West Chester, the hip-hop group Round2Crew was handpicked by a panel of three judges from a pool of thousands of submissions from across the country to compete in the “Grammy Gig of A Lifetime” online contest.
The top prize is the chance to perform at the 56th annual Grammy Awards on Jan. 26 in Los Angeles. The victorious act will also participate in various Grammy Week events leading up to the "biggest night in music."
“We didn’t even know we were in the running, someone decided to nominate us,” said 19-year-old vocalist/producer Chase Martin. “The Grammys emailed us and told us to submit a video and then the judges picked ours. It’s been crazy.”
The group submitted the video for their song “Last Night,” which was one of 40 finalists selected by chart-topping rockers Fall Out Boy, MTV VMA “Artist to Watch” winner Austin Mahone and BRIT “Critics Choice” Award winner Emeli Sandé.
You can vote for group on the Grammy Gig of a Lifetime page on the CBS website . In order to participate, you must register using either a Twitter or Facebook account.
Voting ends at 11:59 a.m. Pacific Time (or 2:59 p.m. EST) Thursday. The winner will be announced Jan. 17.
So far, the Martin says they’ve received compliments and new fans on social media from Japan, Australia and Germany, as well as various other places around the world. They hope their new followers translate into votes before the deadline.
"It'd be a dream come true to perform at the Grammys and we just need everyone out there, especially our local fans, to get out there and vote for us," Martin said.
If they manage to collect enough votes to win this year’s “Gig Of A Lifetime” title, it would highlight a four-and-a-half year journey that began during a chance meeting in 2010.
Martin’s relationship with band-mates 19-year-old Justin “Pape” Brown (rapper) and 18-year-old Kevin “K-Fly” Flynn (rapper) started just before all three enrolled at Lakota East High School. By their sophomore year they decided to start performing together, Martin said.
“We were all kind of doing our own thing at the time but what brought us together was our love of music,” he said.
The group came up with a name long before they ever appeared on stage together.
“Kind of really weird how we got the name. We were at Kings Island and we were all having a bad day and nothing was going our way. We kept saying 'round two' and hoping things would get better. And they did,” Martin said.
“Eventually people started calling us 'Round 2' and then when we started the band we added the 'crew' part,” he recalled.
Back then the group made “edgier” music. While still true to the hip-hop form, their most recent lyrics are a "little more pop-y” and highlight their "unique sound."
"We were inspired by a lot of artists, obviously, but I think we have our own unique sound," Martin said. "I don't think people have heard music like ours before."
All three of the members shy away from the "boy band" label but in a way it fits -- and it works for them, too.
In an interview on the website WeKnowTheDJ.com , Round2Crew is described as "charismatic enough that the individual personas of 'the rapping boy band' just might take them to the top."
That trip to the top began almost immediately after they graduated from high school on June 1, 2013. Since then, the Crew has dedicated the majority of their free time to work on their album in Martin’s in-home studio and traveling to shows.
After just a brief short years, doing what they love is now their full-time job.
Since June, the band has taken part in 25 shows throughout Ohio, Florida and Texas. They’ve also had shows in music havens like Nashville and Los Angeles, serving as the opening act for bands such as Midnight Red.
They also helped sell out a 700-seat venue in London, England during their brief European tour.
Martin says the past few months have been a whirlwind of ups and downs, but he thinks Round2Crew has found its stride and is ready to make the jump to the next level.
But they're not willing to make that leap if it forces them to change who they are.
“We’ve had managers and agents contact us a lot since we were nominated but we kind of like being 100 percent independent,” Martin said. “We don’t want to rush into anything or change our music. We want to wait until the right opportunity comes along.”
Their next gig is in Nashville on Feb. 14, after that they'll release their EP on Jan. 29.
Before then, though, the up-and-coming act hopes to make a return trip to Hollywood.