The bad news: none of the judges wore curly white wigs.
The good news: my voice appeared roughly a half hour before the audition and I got to properly show everybody what I'm workin' with (...vocally).
This chapter of my memoir will be called "The Sigh of Relief Heard Round the World"
The one doing the sighing is me. Because I was extremely worried. And then unbelievably relieved. Even though I spent an entire day inhaling steamed ginger and drinking cup of tea after cup of tea, I can't help but think I was visited by a little vocal guardian angel on Tuesday. Because I could barely squeak more than five notes out that morning, even after doing all my "little tricks" as my mom called them. I do have a lot of little tricks. But I was convinced they hadn't worked.
Anyway. The audition looked just like the photos from previous years, but there was a LOT of press there. A lot of news cameras and interviewers and photography areas. I saw all these dapper jazz bands take the stage and realized I was the only solo act in sight. I felt very small. Everyone else was in an established group. With multiple instruments. I was just...me. Sick little me. Gordon hadn't arrived yet, so I had to just sit there, internally freaking out. An older Asian man noticed my ukulele and asked me to take it out so he could snap a photo of me. I don't think he was press. I think he was just there. I smiled for him. He was kind and encouraging, and told me he would be back to watch me audition. So that eased my nerves for about five seconds. Gordon eventually appeared and I felt incredibly calm and centered. He has that affect.
It's one thing to give a bad audition in a closed room for ten humans, but it's another thing to give a bad audition for 25 judges, all the local news stations, and about 50 passerby. Maybe it was the adrenaline or maybe it was the steam or maybe it was the two sips of chamomile tea I had right before I got myself in line, but something brought my voice back. In a sectioned-off "green room" area, I practiced my songs into the marble wall, and to my surprise, I hit every note clearly. Gordon and I looked at each other a little baffled. He motioned to a man nearby setting up his equipment and said, "That guy was digging it. He nodded at me like 'right on' while you were singing."
If it's good enough for that random guy, it was good enough.
I stood in line behind three groups going before me. One included a girl with a ukulele. Awesome. A woman interviewed me, asking why I want this, what my story is. Gordon's parents waved and set up their camera on a tripod. The Asian gentleman was back, and gave me a thumbs up from the crowd. I tried not to think of the hundreds of things that would go wrong, aside from my voice cracking. We had barely practiced with my amp and had to immediately know what settings to use and what volume levels and what if they couldn't hear me and what if my ukulele slipped because I'd be standing and what if the mic gave feedback and what if I forgot the words and what if I did that thing where I closed my eyes the whole time? I feel nervous writing this now, but I didn't feel nervous then. I felt ready. Singing into the wall and hearing myself gave me all the confidence I needed. I went into full warrior princess mode.
For the record, warrior princess mode is my favorite mode to be in.
The MC approached me, wearing a referee uniform. He told me if I neared the five minute point, he would walk on "stage" and blow his whistle. I thought that was a little game-show-ish, but I assured him I would not hit five minutes. He asked me a lot of questions about myself, with one band still in front of me in line. He asked me why I started playing ukulele and without thinking, I said, "Because I was sad."
Which is not entirely untrue, but I realized that was the wrong answer when I saw him scribble it down in his notes by my name. Great. Here comes sad girl. Strumming away all her pain. Maybe she'll stop crying long enough to sing to you. After I answered a few more questions about myself, the band in front of me gave their audition. I think they played "Fields of Barley" and I think they were amazing, but it was all a blur. After one song, they exited and the MC said, "That was the Jill Sargeants.....I mean.....here is Jill Sargeant, up next!"
Gordon and I rushed up and turned the amp on and tested the volume as the MC went on about how sad I am and how I come from the "promise land" or something. I started strumming and Gordon crawled back up to the amp to adjust the levels more, that saint. I started to sing. I hit every note with my usual pizazz. I tried my very best to smile and not shake too much. Toward the end of my second song, "Sea of Love" I actually started enjoying myself. I was singing in Grand Central Station in New York City. Arguably the most beautiful train station in America, in my favorite city in the world (...besides Orange). I got to share my voice with all these people and my voice was actually THERE. I was a grinning little polar bear. The MC sincerely thanked me as I left the stage.
And that's how it went.
I wasn't expecting all the interviewers and photographers to rush up to me and literally form a line to talk to me and take my photo. That was surreal. I'm sure they did that to almost every performer, but I felt pretty darned special in that moment. I got to tell my abridged life story to all these reporters. Stand in front of the "Music Under New York" background and pose for everyone. After one reporter for Business Insider took my picture in the press area, a man holding a microphone with a camera following him said, "Hi I'm with NBC, do you have a minute?"
For you, sir? I have multiple minutes. I gave an interview to NBC, it's fine, no big deal. I exchanged business cards with a few people and talked to Gordon and his parents about it all. And then it was over. And then I had to babysit.
Here is an article I'm in, where I talk about getting escorted off the High Line (a few times).
I'd post my one sentence that made it onto NBC news but it's not on the internet! But if you're friends with me on facebook, you can find it on my wall ;)
Alright! I think this is officially my longest post yet! That's what happens when you look forward to something for months and then drink coffee and write about it, I guess. Who knows if I actually made it in, but I'm glad I did my best and didn't bomb and felt famous for about 10 minutes.
If you actually read this whole thing: good job, you little reader! Look at you go!!!
Now stop stalking me and go do something else (just kidding, never stop stalking me) but seriously stop stalking me.