My alarm went off at 4:00 a.m. today. By 4:15, I was out of my bed. I needed to be in downtown Austin by 7:00 a.m. to check in for my audition on The Voice. By 6:00 a.m., I was out of the door and on my way, arriving at the Austin Convention Center around 6:30. When I walked up, I was greeted by no less than 2000 other hopeful contestants who were already in line.
I worked my way 2/3 of the way around the perimeter of the building and took my place in line. Let the waiting begin. Casual conversations were started with those around me. The lady behind me flew in from Seattle to audition. The guy next to me was from Los Angeles. At 45 years old, I was the oldest contestant that I could see at this point, although I did find a few older than me later on. I was amazed at the various color options available for hair these days! I think I saw every color and/or combination possible! I also noticed that I wasn’t dressed appropriately for this audition. Booty shorts and cowboy boots were the outfit of choice by the vast majority of the crowd!
I am normally the person who talks to everyone and wants to hear everyone’s story, but not today. I just watched and listened mostly. There were some in that sea of people that just stood out because of their quiet confidence. They sat there and waited their turn and didn’t spend 3 hours reciting the resume to everyone around them. There were others who would break out into song every few minutes at the top of their lungs – thinking that everyone would just think they were warming up, but in reality, we all knew they needed the approval of those around them to make them feel better about themselves. Lots and lots of teenagers were there, and most were scared to death, although they tried to put on a good act.
In some ways, I was envious of many in the crowd today. I grew up singing and had lots of big performances when I was younger. I have sung for a couple of Presidents. I’ve performed in front of 25,000 people. I was on TV and radio regularly. But now, I’m 45. My voice isn’t as strong as it used to be. The swagger has diminished somewhat. These types of shows weren’t available when I was younger. Maybe I’m way off base here, but I truly believe that if I had entered a show like this when I was 18-19 years old, I would have made the show and might have won it. But now, I knew deep down in my heart that I had no shot of being selected to be on the show…I know a few things about demographics! These kids and young adults around me, they had that look in their eye – excitement, determination, and passion.
In conversations that I heard today, most of the people gained their experience singing in church. The others who had experience, gained it in bars. And the rest, they had no experience at all. I wonder where kids who don’t have opportunities to sing in church gain their experience? Schools have cut lots of music programs. Many bars aren’t going to allow minors in to perform. Their options are limited. But they still have a deep hunger to perform!
It finally came my turn to enter the audition room and do my thing for one of the producers. 10 of us entered a room together. There was no interview or discussion. The producer would call your name, you walked up to an X on the floor, told her what song you were going to do, and you had 60-90 seconds to win or lose. None of the 10 in the room with me were bad, in fact all were really very good. They called my name and I walked up for what I knew would likely be my last audition ever. I sang my song, and was pleased with my performance. I deserved to be in that room with these other performers. When I finished, the producer looked up at me and sad, “Very nice!” She didn’t speak to any of the other contestants. Finally, all 10 had finished and she named one name and asked for that person to stay behind and everyone else could go home. Mine was not that name. It was the last girl to go from our group. She was very good, but not the best in room by far – maybe not even in the top 7. She was 14-15 years old, blonde hair, blues eyes, cute…pretty much the exact opposite of me…hahaha!
I walked to the door to leave the audition room and each of the other singers in the room approached me and wanted to speak to me. Each told me how I should have been the one selected. It was a cool moment for me, especially considering that would be the last time I would go through this type of process. They didn’t know that, but their words validated my efforts and made me feel like I still could “bring it” when I really wanted to.
The Voice is a very cool concept. What we see on TV is that judges objectively listen to the singer’s voices while having their backs turned. They don’t know if the singer is young, old, overweight, pretty, or any other factor other than their voice. But the process to get to that point is no different than other talent competition shows. If The Voice really wanted to do it correctly, they would have singers enter behind a curtain and sing so the producer can only hear a voice and then make a decision. Video tape submissions wouldn’t be accepted – only audio submissions. Make it really, all the way throughout the process, about The Voice and nothing else.
I had a great time going through the process. It was very interesting. My approach after defeating cancer has been to try to enjoy life and try as many things as possible. I wanted to put myself out there and take some risks. I have a teenage daughter that I hope will learn from this example and always be willing to try. But really…that’s a lesson all of us could learn.