I auditioned for Season 2 of "The Voice" when they came to the SF Bay Area, bearing in mind that it was a long shot. When I saw Cee-lo wearing that Misfits shirt in Season One, I took it as a hint that I should try out for the show.*
So, I went to the online audition site and checked out the online tool, had a bunch of old classic tunes. "Cool, they must be looking for real singers," I thought. But the online tool wouldn't work with my operating system. I couldn't get past the point where they could see my camera. So, reluctantly, I signed up for the "open call." I say reluctantly, because HATE singing without a mic, and the last time I tried one of those, they shut the doors on all of us when I was fifth in line and I never got a chance to audition after standing in line all day. But that was 30 years ago. And "that Misfits shirt was a sign," I kept telling myself. "If you want to win the game, you've got to be in the game." How hard could it be?
Well, here's how it went : I had a 2:00 pm appointment. I got there at 2:00 pm. Already about 100 people in line. They were making people pour their water bottles out - security thing. "There will be water for you inside." Waited for hours, made some new friends. Wait, drink water, pee. Wait, wait, wait. Very noisy in the waiting "salon," Production assistants keep telling people to keep it down, auditions are going on in the adjoining rooms. I'm thinking "send the talkers home - that's get rid of all these rude people." Then I think, "I'm feeling cranky - must be because I haven't eaten." I leave the room to get a granola bar, a nutri grain bar and a cup of tea. Cost me six bucks. I pop the tea bag in my purse and drink the hot water, scoping out the competition.
Ran into my friend Beth Reynolds, wearing some great green boots. "Money boots" she calls them. We chatted - both feel the same way about this - don't expect much. She says some very nice things to me - tells me she thinks I have a better chance than most - thank you Beth. We joke and laugh, we're going for the sympathy "last chance old chick" vote. hahahhaha Trying our best to keep our voices down because auditions are going on on the adjoining rooms.
After waiting three hours, some really nice guy came out - one of the producers, to talk to the crowd - told us "go ahead and sing your classic old tune, but since we are looking for contemporary artists, be prepared for us to ask you to sing something more contemporary after that."
I'm pretty sure that is what he said - I couldn't hear him very well, because I was in the back of the room and he had no microphone and people were talking. I should have walked up the aisle to make sure I could hear him loud and clear.
After he walked out, the room exploded in an uproar - and the production assistants did that "wave" thing with their hands when they want to shush the room up. (You know - the movement that looks like a flight attendant action.)
So, after Mr. Tall Dark and Handsome producer's speech, I'm thinking "Oh shit - I'm singing Dusty Springfield. Oh shit I don't want to have to sing that Adele tune, I mean, that is the only contemporary tune I know by heart, and EVERYONE is going to be singing that tune. Oh shit Oh shit Oh shit. OK, I'll sing the Dusty tune and then he'll ask me to sing something more contemporary - yeah, ok, that's what I'll do..." Quick, get the iPhone out - bring up YouTube, write the lyrics down. OK done. Thinking, "What else - oh - I can sing that Kings of Leon tune - I know that one pretty good. Only a verse and a chorus. It's Scot's birthday, he liked Kings of Leon, must be a sign. My mind drifts to that Rosie O'Donell character in Sleepless in Seattle. What ? Oh yeah. Bring it up on the iPhone. Kings of Leon...."
I get the feeling that someone is watching me, so I look up - here comes my friend Beth again. She says "Oh shit, I'm done - he wants a contemporary tune." We laugh, again, in hushed tones - don't want to be rude like all these other noisy folks. She sees the look of panic on my face and says. "You're working here. I'll let you get your lyrics" - and she goes to sit in a chair a couple of rows up. Thanks, Beth....So, I double check that I have the verse and chorus for "Use Somebody" down, and sit and wait, and wait and wait and wait.
And wonder "WHY am I doing this again?" But I figure "I've come this far, might as well wait it out."
So, I sit and wait, and wait and wait and wait.
Finally, Beth's row, a couple of rows up from us, is led to the other waiting area. Wait some more.
OK. Our group is up! We are led to another hallway, told to wait, we can now go to the bathroom, warm up, etc. So I go and pee again. Wash hands, check makeup. I keep my poncho on because the air conditioning is freezing.
The group before us comes out. A bunch of sad faces, they all get their wristbands cut off. No call backs. Then two very handsome young men early 20's (if I had to guess) come out smiling, callbacks for them. Yay for them.
Another group comes out - no callbacks.
Our group goes in. The person who is charged with this decision to send us to the next round is one guy - a very young guy, red hair and freckles. His skin is beautiful, cherubic. Seems robotic, and tired. I feel sorry for him and a bit of panic at the same time, because I can hear someone in the next room murdering that damn Adele song. Fuck.
My heart starts beating out of my chest. I mean, so loudly, I can't hear what the fuck he's saying. This must be what a roller coaster ride feels like if you're not the kind of person that wants to puke whenever they get on a roller coaster. Which I am, by the way.
Come to think of it - puking sounds good right about now, but it would only be a couple of chewed up nuts because all I had to eat was a granola bar. My bad. if I get up the nerve and they have a third season, I'm eating my Wheaties before I show up.
It's much warmer in this room, and I consider taking my poncho off, but decide against it. Again, my bad, I should have ripped that baby off and let my boobs do the talking.
I'm thinking "I hate singing without a microphone." I use it like an instrument. Seriously. I make love to the damn thing, not in a crude way, but that is how I am used to singing - with a mic. "Red" as I have dubbed him in my limitless imagination, calls the names, one by one. We each take our turn. Some of these girls can't sing a note in tune. But they are having a wonderful time singing - their faces are filled with such joy. I come to the realization that eight of ten of us are "shower singers" - people who are not professionals, they sing in the shower. My guess is just one other gal besides me has done any professional singing. Again, I think "What am I doing here?" I'm hoping there's an ambulance nearby, because I swear I'm going to have a fucking heart attack if this thing doesn't end soon. "Think positive thoughts," I tell myself.
Ok - it's my turn, Trying to find the starting note in my head, I breathe. I remember what the producer said in his speech - "Perform for us." So I tell the other girls in the room I'm going to ask them to clap their hands for me. Immediately, they start applauding. I tell them - "no, not like that." We all laugh - it relaxes me enough to find the note. I know that the only reason I am even slightly nervous is because I am out of my comfort zone - the no mic thing. I start to sing and clap my hands and the other girls follow suit. It felt good and I'm pretty sure I rocked it - I could tell by the looks on the other girls in the room - most were smiling and that one looked as if she wanted to rip my hair our of my head. It was fun.
But "Red" was not moved. I have to admit I was a bit shocked that he didn't ask me to sing something more contemporary.
Am I disappointed? Yes. Because I would have welcomed the opportunity to sing for millions of people at once - and tv exposure would help me get better gigs for my Kings.
I could be bitter and say that "Red" had no soul or no ears. But instead, I left feeling sorry for the kid - because if I had to listen to several hundred out of tune wanna be singers murder Adele's "Rollin' In the Deep" - all day long - my ears would have been gone by the time I heard a REAL singer too.
Maybe he was too tired, too low on the totem pole to make an exception to the parameters set out by the higher ups. Maybe he sat too far away from me. Maybe I just didn't shine my light bright enough for him to feel the heat.
So, what I take from all this is a sense of who I am and who I want to be. I'm grateful. Because after what I heard in that room yesterday, you couldn't pay me to do anything BUT sing - and write.
If anything, I am more committed to keep plugging away, because these are the gifts I have to bring into this world.
Next time, I will shine my light so bright, the heat from the glow will melt that kid's earwax.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. " Marianne Williamson
"Do not allow people to dim your shine because they are blinded. Tell them to put on some sunglasses, cuz we were born this way bitch!"
— Lady Gaga
— Lady Gaga
* I went to high school with Jerry Only, bass player from the Misfits - only I knew him as Jerry Caiafa, quarterback of the football team - But that's a story for another post.