I could feel it: this overwhelming sense of amazing potential and possibility. What if they say ‘yes?’ What if I get the callback? I could feel the excitement in the pit of my stomach, the way you feel when you are about to free fall down a drop tower.
That is the feeling you get when you audition for a national television show with the glimmer of hope that your life will be changed forever when you walk out of that audition room.
I started singing when I was 8 years old, and I took formal lessons for seven years. My grandfather was always my inspiration for singing, and he is a major reason that music is such a significant part of my life. When he passed away, I was a mess. I realized that I found peace with the grieving process when I sang, and I found the answers that he was no longer around to give me. After that, I understood just how powerful music can be and I knew that this was the dream that I wanted more than anything.
When I was 17 years old, I auditioned for “American Idol” and learned that it is not quite enough to have a good voice — you have to have an attitude; a certain Hollywood flair that is hard to describe and even harder to embody within a 20-second audition. In just 20 seconds, a producer decides if you have got what it takes. For those 20 seconds, your dream is on the line. You have to be that pearl in every thousand oysters.
On Saturday, I auditioned for season seven of “The Voice” in Denver. It was not nearly as overwhelming as it was when I was 17 years old, but the audition process was still a bit nerve-wracking. I waited in line inside of Magness Arena at the University of Denver for about two hours, along with hundreds of other people hoping for the same lucky break. Everyone was checked in and separated into audition groups of seven to nine people. My group could not stop smiling, beaming with excitement and a wondrous, collective nervous energy as we waited outside of our audition room.
“My mom passed away two years ago. I’m finally doing this, and I’m doing it for her,” said a woman named Donna, who was in my audition group. Everyone had a reason for being there, everyone had a story. I could feel the tension beginning to rise as we all realized just how high our personal stakes really were. This audition was like an answer to a million different circumstances all within the same arena. We all needed this, for a million different reasons.
When the producer called my name, I stepped up to the pink tape on the floor and took a deep breath, exhaling all of my doubts and reservations. As I finished the verse of my audition song, Carrie Underwood’s “Cowboy Casanova”, the producer was nodding and writing something down. “Oh my gosh,” I thought, “she’s going to send me through.”
When I returned to my seat to wait for the others to finish auditioning, I could not keep my hands from shaking. I nailed every note, but I was still uncertain and hyped up on the idea of what could happen. I tried to stay confident despite the uneasiness of waiting for that defining moment.
After the last person in my group finished singing, the producer announced that she would not be sending any of us through to callbacks. My chest tightened for a moment. It is hard to hear that when you want something so badly, but it is important to accept it with grace and a positive attitude.
The reality is that there are thousands of incredibly talented singers who just do not make the cut, for one silly reason or another. I did not make it, but there will always be another shot, another opportunity, another audition. In the words of the Eli Young Band, “keep on dreaming, even if it breaks your heart.”
Collegian Staff Reporter Haleigh McGill would rather be in Hollywood. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.