Sunday, January 12, 2014

"The Voice" audition report

So thank you all for your comments, suggestions and support for the past few days as I did a last minute scramble prep for "The Voice" auditions here in Philly.

I spent the better part of my Saturday away from my family in order to pursue this pipe dream the little twelve-year-old in me still harbors.

Actually, all in all I arrived at 12:30 for a 2:00 pm appointment and was seen by 5:00. Really not too bad for a reality show. This is why I was willing to do this a second time; I feel they manage the auditions really well. Although last time was a little bit quicker, I was in the first appointment group and the show was not as popular.

This report half reads as a race report, as there were about 5 parts to the day. Bear with me as I try to provide you with some tips in case you care to brave one of these 'mass' auditions on your own!

1st line/swim: You should eat. Crap. Why didn't I bring a balance bar, why didn't I bring a balance bar. I'm off my game. This is just like a race...yes swim bike run and then two transitions. Pretzel guy comes around the line. Fab. Just the thing. Not too much. Just enough to get me to (gulp, what would be 5:30.)

T1: About 45 minutes dancing around the building and we head inside. The kid behind me who had a 7:00 appointment was not allowed in the building at this time. Should take this opportunity to pee. That's your best opp before they segregate you into further lines after reviewing your credentials/release paperwork.
2nd line/bike: Drugs. You're about 30 mins to an hour out from your audition so now's a good time to drink water and possibly take an ibuprofen or whatever sinus meds you prefer. I also love entertainers secret. Never too early for that...might have sprayed some of that before bed last night....people start getting antsy, especially the newbies. Avoid the chatter. You are not making friends, you are losing focus and vocal potential. Just relax.

T2: another chance to pee as they move you from cattle corrals to smaller room lines by walking through the lobby or corridor again. 

Positioning is key at this point. Who are you singing after/before. And I happen to be between two [straight] guys. I say straight because they are not being flamboyant, but who am I to say. They are clearly here for a reason, not for a quick rush of attention, and I start to tell them I'm not happy about being in this position with them.  "I can tell. You are here because you have something to offer." They chuckle at me. They ask me, "what about you?"
"Oh God. Well, it's been twenty years for me doing this sh**. I'm just here out of habit, I guess."

3rd holding room/Run: this is it. Whatever you are going to need to do before the audition, do it now. Read the words to your song, warm up a little by humming, pop a candy that moistens your mouth, listen to your audition song in your headphones (I actually like to only do this when necessary, don't want to ruin my warm-up or key placement I already had in my head. Relative pitch is better for me in the moment sometimes.), push-ups (yeah, I don't want to know what the teenagers thought of it, screw you, I gotta get my blood pumping after sitting for 5 hours, I'm old.) Lipstick/touch ups.
Room #4? The last big room before we are taken out in groups of 10.
Suddenly the shepherds start to chat us up and try to get rid of our jitters. They suggest we get up and sing our piece for each other. People start taking turns; mostly the newbies, because the rest of us want to save our golden notes for the actual audition. We all start getting in the spirit; lifting each other up. This was probably the best part of the process- everyone just sharing music and laughter. Me and my two seat-mates were begging for "Boyz II Men" songs so we could warm up with harmonies. We got a few. Some super-funky-granola-looking teenager sang a Carole King song and it renewed my faith in the next generation. I was the only one who knew the lyrics and could sing along with her.

I was also the only one in the room with an actual book to also occupy my mind. Yes, I like to read on my kindle app, too, but in these situations you don't want to eat up all your phone battery all day. Nothing like a good old fashioned booky book.

We go in the room/finish line. Ten of us. Ten chairs are split up into two angled lines of five each on either side of the conference room, and a little taped green line separates them. The judge has a table about thirty feet directly in front of that green line. He gives us a little welcome speech, tries to break the ice by saying "you all look good...thank you all for being attractive, that makes my job easier," and we all laugh nervously. Then he asks "is it still raining outside?" And I interject, because I'm a troublemaker, "how would we know we've been inside for five hours!" And he says "we'll I've been here since..." And I cut him off and say "it's not a competition", and he laughs. Let me explain who's breaking the ice here, buddy. He shuffles up our name cards so we are asked to sing at random, rather than the order of our chairs. 90 seconds, and he might cut us off just to be fair to everyone. You get to the line, say your name, where you're from, and what you are going to sing. Come to think of it, I wonder if there was a video camera directly behind the judge just for later edits/further sorting/ reviewing. 

A little young chunky white jersey girl sings an Alicia keys song fairly well. 

A guy who looks just like Blake Sheldon gets to the line to say his name and jokes "Blake-I mean Brian..." You gotta give him credit for trying to use that gimmick. If he sang well I think it might have worked. 

My seat mate from the previous room sings an easy listening song I love, but I can't recall it now, I can only recall the gorgeous timbre of his voice. I knew I didn't want to sing after him. Didn't I tell him I didn't want to sing after him? Yes, I did. Not that it matters when 11,000 people would be auditioning in the city of Philly alone, but you'd be surprised at how many different ways you can make yourself look better.

The judge calls me ninth in the room... Good thing I'm not easily intimidated! I was actually feeling my heart beat through my chest for the newbies whom you could tell were so frightened. I knew from chatting with another girl before that this was her first time. Singing for people. Like, EVER. She sang "Stay" by Lisa Loeb and quietly murdered it. (Remember in showbiz that "kill" is good and "murder" is bad.)

Maybe I get off on this adrenalin high- same as triathlon- I'm going to keep it up. I can't help myself.
Until I'm 70 so I can get on that podium by default of the fact that there may only be three people my age in the running. 

Anyways, as I said I was ninth. I quickly trifle through my stuff to find and grab my little handwritten lyric sheet of "Let it go" and as I'm walking to the green line I say to the judge,
"You gotta help me out, do you want an old song or a new song?"
And he says, "oh no I don't want that pressure on me. You gotta decide."
So I crumble up the sheet into a ball in one of my hands and dig in for "unbreak my heart". It got the best reaction out of my husband that morning while I was warming up so I felt like it was a contender. After the first three lines is the key change and the judge lifted his head out of hs notes at that point and really started to pay attention. I could tell it was sounding pretty damn good. I have no idea how the final high "D" sounded but I held it out for 4,000 measures so I just ended on it. Could not have done any better. 

I sit, the final girl sings a country song which relaxes me a bit (you know what, there are just too many girls here I start to think), and then the judge gives us another speech about how "You see how much talent is in this room, but I'm auditioning 10 people every 20 minutes, and there are 10 other rooms going on at the same time, and we will be here for about 3 days blah di blah [ain't none o' you gettin' thru...]"
"But! There is one person whom I would like to ask to stay. And thank you all again for your time, and for giving up your Saturday to be here. Without you, our contestants, there is no Voice..."
GET TO IT, DUDE! WHO'S THE ONE PERSON!?!?! It's gotta be my seat-mate. It can't be me. But I really liked the girl who sang Alicia Keys. If it's her, I'm fine with it. If it's him, I'm totally fine with that. His voice was gorgeous...but maybe....

Just... maybe...

It's MY turn...

He shuffles through his papers...

Is it mine? is it mine? Mine was folded into quarters into my book. Is it a folded one?  
"Duane... please stick around. Everyone else, thank you again."
I slap him on the shoulder on my way out and said, "SEE? I TOLD you I didn't want to go after you" and he tilted his head back, gave a big sigh, and laughed. I could see his thinking, the trip from New York and all this day of waiting, was worth it.

For, at least, this round...

But it does give you some solid affirmation, just to get that first 'red ticket.'

I actually wasn't 100% sure he got one, so on my way down the hallway I stopped to watch him leave the room with it. I was beyond the barriers at that point, telling my husband the tale on the phone, and I would've liked to ask Duane what the judge said. But they ushered him another way, probably to a tenth holding cell where he would sing another two, three, or four songs.

Good for him.

Come to think of it, the only three red tickets I saw all day were garnered by young, beautiful, black men. And I also spoke to two older (my age), stockier guys in one of the lines who had been "called" to the audition based on a video submission.
Dancing and screaming about his red ticket. We feel you.
So, guys. As usual. Gotta get my son working on that piano ;)

Ok let's be thankful for amazing friends who will wait all day for the call that you are finished and know the perfect place nearby to catch a drink (or two or three).

And lets be thankful for kids who want to wait for you to get home before they go to bed.

And for a hubby who cooked you some nice bbq chicken legs and latkes for dinner. [weird but amazing combo.]

And for "Can we have a story mommy?" moments, after a tiring day of waiting, waiting some more, singing your face off, then slamming some martinis to work off some of the adrenalin high that fed you the creative juices for this gem:
Once upon a time there was a princess. And she had a beautiful singing voice. All the town loved to hear her sing. She would sing for her family, she would sing for the King & Queen, she would sing for all of the Villagers. Everyone loved her voice, and begged her to bring it more people. They told her to go to New Amsterdam, where they knew many more people would be able to hear her. So she went. She said goodbye to her family and her nice village, and set off for the big town. She sang when she arrived. She sang high, she sang low. She sang for people in the street; she sang for Kings & Queens. No one could hear her; there were too many voices in New Amsterdam. Only one man heard her, and he was a handsome prince! He asked the princess to sing for him everyday, for the rest of their lives. To build a house together and have children. So she did! And they lived...
* Happily Ever After *

The. End.

For. Now.


  1. Love. Love. Love. My heart was racing just reading every word. It sucks you didn't make the cut, but what an inspiring day! Awesome YOU! Rock on!! xoxo

    1. Thank you - isn't that why we are all sharing our lives online? To inspire each other? It's worth it!!

  2. That's awesome! Good for you sista! I'd never in a million zillion years have that kind of ompha. You're my hero!

    1. LOL It's a nice ego boost, that's for sure...ompha I have no lack of...patience is a virtue I don't have and you're my hero for that!!!

  3. Man, I have always wondered what those things are like, and if I should ever try one. Thanks for the post!

    1. You most definitely should submit a video first and see if they invite you - the stocky guy in line in front of me in the first pic was called in from - VERMONT -! Based on a video submission. From there they would see your blog, web presence, etc, and get the idea of your back-story, which should be pretty enticing...;)

  4. Sorry you didn't make it! Thank you for sharing this though, I always wondered how these things worked!


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