• The Hollywood Reporter on LinkedIn
  • Follow THR on Pinterest
AUG
30
2 YEARS

Nelly Brings 'Swag,' 'Refreshing' Perspective for 'The Next' Contestant (Exclusive Video)

Baiyu will be one of four performers to compete in the New York City episode of the CW singing competition.

Aspiring singer and YouTube star Baiyu will make her national television debut on The Next with a little help from her mentor, Nelly.

In THR’s exclusive clip, the rapper surprises his new mentee at New York's Tammany Hall right in the middle of a performance. Watch above as he hits the stage during her acoustic rendition of Usher and David Guetta’s “Without You.”

VIDEOS: Top Grads of YouTube U

"Honestly, I still can't believe that I had the chance and the privilege to spend 72 hours with Nelly,” Baiyu, a Princeton alum, tells THR. “I've been a fan of his for years and years, so having him over at my spot and really guiding me throughout this process has felt entirely too surreal.”

Appearing on Thursday’s pre-taped broadcast, Baiyu will compete against three other New York locals for a chance to move on to the live rounds in Hollywood. In the meantime, Baiyu recently collaborated with fellow The Next NYC contestant Frankie on a YouTube cover of Justin Bieber’s “As Long as You Love Me.” Watch here.

“Nelly has been incredibly encouraging and really took the time to listen to my story,” Baiyu says of her mentor. “It's so refreshing for me to hear him say how much he believes in me -- exactly the way that I am -- especially since so many folks in the music industry are always trying to mold you into something that you're not."

VIDEO: Joe Jonas on How 'The Next' Differs From Other Talent Competition Shows

Asked to describe her mentor in one word: "Swag."

The Next follows mentors Nelly, Joe Jonas, John Rich and Gloria Estefan as they integrate themselves into contestants’ lives for three days, giving them the chance to become The Next Music Superstar. The music competition begins live broadcasts from L.A. later this fall.

The Next airs on The CW on Thursday at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

Email: Sophie.Schillaci@thr.com; Twitter: @SophieSchillaci