It's six degrees of separation—or less—between the town of Bedford and the hit television show The Voice, a singing competition in its third season on NBC.
Collin McLoughlin, who attended Bedford Village Elementary School and the Rippowam Cisqua School, earned the chance to be on the show after auditioning with thousands of other hopefuls from across the country.
The winner of the show gets a record deal with Universal Republic Records. And guess who heads up that music label?
Monte Lipman, a Bedford resident, whose kids attend Rippowam Cisqua.
However, McLoughlin's appearance on the show and his and Lipman's mutual school ties is pure coincidence.
"I'm thrilled that Collin made it on the show," said Lipman, CEO of the record label, "but he had no edge whatsoever. It was his talent that shone through and he proved himself and he beat the odds to stand out among hundreds of thousands of other singers."
In fact, he added, he didn't even know McLoughlin had made it on the show until his wife, Angela, casually mentioned that a Rippowam alumnus who visited the school last spring to talk about careers in music was on the blind auditions episode that night.
"She was so excited," said Lipman, who has lived in Bedford with his wife and their two children for ten years. "Once I found out, I was too—he's a great kid and clearly talented and what he needs is a break."
McLoughlin's own family is deeply rooted in Bedford. His parents, Nancy and Shawn McLoughlin, have lived here for 20 years and raised their children Collin, Mallory and Ian here. They bought the old Butcher and Baker restaurant and renovated it to be what locals now know as The Meetinghouse (though they've since sold their stake in the restaurant).
There's more. Rob Thomas, a solo rock star and frontman for the band Matchbox 20, is a resident of Guard Hill Road in Bedford and an advisor to the show this season.
And the Steinhardt School of Music Management at NYU, where Collin McLoughlin is a student on leave? Named for locals Michael and Judy Steinhardt, who gave a $10 million donation to the school in 2001.
Universal's partnership with 'The Voice' includes recording and artist services for the talent. As the competition advances, Universal executives will participate actively in the show, aiding in song selections, for example.
And when is winner is crowned, they'll work closely with the artist, providing the array of services involved in a record deal including album production, promotions, marketing and videos.
Most importantly, said Lipman, the winner's name is added to a roster of artists already signed with the label including Taylor Swift, Lil Wayne, Colbie Caillat and Jack Johnson.
Lipman praised McLoughlin's talent and said today's musicians need more than talent to make it in the business.
"You have to be resourceful," he said. "You have to have determination, and perseverance and the ability to stay with it. You have to believe in yourself."
When asked if he thought McLoughlin's YouTube marketing was a good example of perseverance, he said yes.
"He got to The Voice on his own," he said. "And now he has a platform to show his talent."