If you’re like me, you like to have a bit of an idea of what you’re walking into. A bit of guidance and some tips on what to expect, would be nice! I overheard a number of fellow artists stating the same thing. So whether you’re planning to audition yourself sometime in the future, or you’re just curious about my experience, below is as detailed an account as I can remember about the entire experience.
If you’re interested, here are 10 tips for auditioning for The Voice, or just about anything else based on my experiences.
HOW I CAME TO AUDITION
Over the last few years I would periodically watch these singing competition shows and think, “I wonder how I would stack up in a competition? I mean, I’ve been singing pro for a while, I’m just curious how I’d do…”, but when I looked into Idol, I was too old. In 2012, I was about 2 hours away from auditioning for The X factor, but bailed at the last minute because I couldn’t get anyone to go with me.
I got an email about The Voice Auditions, in early December 2013. For the hell of it, I filled out an “Artist Account”. I sat in my office after I filled completed the account and decided I was going to go no matter what. I talked to Jeanette and told her that I wanted to go for it. As supportive as she’s always been, she said, “Then you should do it!” So I went into my artist account and signed up for the January 19th, 2014 NBC’s The Voice open auditions 2pm time slot in Chicago. The coolest thing was when I told my buddy Phil, I was going, he was like, “not alone your not!” and actually took a day off work to make the roadie with me – totally unexpected. Another surprise was set to come.
REALITY SETS IN
About 1 week before the audition, I received my “Audition Pass” via email confirming my day and time slot along with some instructions. I was pretty pumped at this point and it was at this time that I went public via Facebook & Twitter because, well this was REALLY HAPPENING! Over the years I’ve gained some great friends, but I was completely blown away by all the of love and encouragement that I received when I posted my intentions. Some folks I spoke to at the audition said they purposefully didn’t share that they were auditioning for fear of having to tell everyone that they “didn’t make it”. That’s nonsense! This was a life experience and I wanted to share it with as many of those willing to hop on board. Plus the continuous support up until about 5 minutes before my audition staved off any self-doubt or negative thoughts.
CHOOSING A SONG
For the open auditions, they ask you to prepare 2 songs acapella. No karaoke tracks, no microphones with reverb, no amplification, no accompanying guitar… acapella is all you, in the raw. Doesn’t mean its bad – it’s just different. Way different.
I’ve always loved old-school R&B and soulful-powerful singers. I chose Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On for the following reasons:
- I felt it was the best song that would represent my vocal talents the best.
- I love the song and can sing it in my sleep.
Reading some blogs and The Voice Casting website, I anticipated a LONG wait. I brought a backpack full of healthy snack bars, some jerky and water a few water bottles. Those who know me, know I’m a huge Jager-bomb guy! Being a lead singer that puts the pedal to the metal all night, the Jager soothes my throat and my nerves – so I even packed a little concoction of pre-mix (it’s 5pm somewhere, right?)
A few days prior to the audition, my wife surprised me by telling me that she got the day off work on Sunday and that she was coming to Chicago with me! Again – totally unexpected. We left for Chicago, early Sunday Morning just after 7am – with the additional hour we gain, this would put us in Chi-town by a little after noon CST. I listened to my song, and sent out a few facebook and twitter posts about where we were and how close we were. It was really cool. I could see lots of friends were interested and excited for me. My facebook and cell phone were blowing up with people asking me if I had auditioned yet? how I did – if I made it, etc….
GETTING IN THE INITIAL AUDITION LINE
I arrived at the Donald Stephens Convention center around 1:15 (45 mins prior to my audition time). As I entered the building, I saw people from that were at the 7am open auditions. I didn’t see any crazy emotion one way or the other. I walked in and there was a representative from the voice that pointed me to the initial line. 2 security guys just asked for my audition pass and then passed me through. There were already probably 4 or 5 lines, 3 people across – probably 200-300 people per line. I followed the ropes and got into the line as directed. I made some small talk to with a few people around me – there was a kid there from Wisconsin with his Dad, a 20’s southern cat named Mykel and a couple of dudes from Minnesota that I chatted with – all very cool. At one point, Mykel starts warming up “lean on me” – and a number of us joined in. It was pretty cool. We stood in line for about 30-45 minutes before a guy came on the bull-horn and told us to have our artist pass, show release forms and ID out and ready to go.
Crazy side story: So they make the announcement about having all of your paperwork, and the one dude from Minnesota was like, “waiver sheet??” He left it in his car! So he get’s out of line (leaving his buddy who was only auditioning because he was) and runs to his car – somewhere in Chicago. About 25 minutes pass and we’re all thinking this dude is totally screwed! Not to mention the fact that the 2 security guys are literally seconds away from us. Some how – this dude manages to get his papers, get himself back inside and then stealthily slip right back into line with us! It was freakin’ awesome!
OFFICIALLY CHECKED IN
One by one, the lines started moving and while we waited to wait in another line to get “officially checked in”. This took probably another 30-40 minutes. I got to the table where I showed my papers and id and got a pink wrist band. I was then directed to a “verification” table where I showed everything again, then was directed to a set of chairs where we sat down in an orderly fashion. At this point, another Voice Casting person told us, we would be there for a bit and could use the bathroom if we needed to. All of the people running the audition were very courteous and polite. Especially considering this was day 2 of what I’m sure is a very monotonous ordeal after a few 1000 times!
HOLDING AREA #1
We settled into this area of about 300 chairs, 10 across. This would eventually become the group I audition with. To my left was a guy from Illinois named Jerad Harness. Cool country cat who fronts a band named, Jerad Harness & Black Grass who had gotten a red card (call back) the year prior in New York City. Unfortunately, he was cut the next round (before LA) – but the fact that he made it out of the first round was awesome!
HOLDING AREA #2
As promised, the same guy from the Voice came and brought us back to the second holding area. We all walked from the big convention room, through the lobby and back to another carpeted area with a bunch of chairs. We filed in and sat down. It was pretty cool. You could hear people auditioning! This was it! A rather feisty “Wanda Sykes” type of lady addressed us asking to keep the noise down. She told us that we would be auditioning very shortly. We were further instructed that we were to keep the results of our audition private (no celebrating or crying – which I thought was totally appropriate.), and that if we were caught taking pictures or video beyond this point (i.e. in the audition) we would automatically be disqualified. Hence – no more photos beyond the one below as I walked in to the final holding area.
As our group was called, people around me tensed up a bit. We stood outside a door where another producer told us we could get water and use the bathroom again. You could hear people in the other audition room wailing away! Some sounded great – some sounded eh… I was pretty focused on getting my song started on the right note – I listened to it quietly about 10 times before we went in. Then… it was showtime! Prior to entering the audition room, a gentlemen cut our pink wristbands off then we proceeded into the a room with 10 chairs, 5 on each side where we all sat down. The producer greeted us with a smile and told us all to just relax and do his or her best. She told us that we would be able to sing a verse and a chorus and would hold up her hand when we to finish. Honestly, I wasn’t that nervous. I had prepared for this moment. I think I was more excited than anything else. Then she said, “Okay! Let’s get things started with…. Jason – haha… of course I was first! I stood up and gave what I believe in my heart was a really good audition. My heart was pounding harder after I was done than it was before I started singing! Everyone else collectively sang – getting applause after each performance. One particular young lady’s was – well, exceptional! She consequently was asked to remain while the rest of us were thanked for auditioning before headed out. And just like that, the journey was over.
This was a great experience. I could speculate on what could have been, but the fact is I went, I experienced, I put it all out there and I was truly happy with what I did. With all things being equal, luck and circumstance play a bigger factor in making it big. While waiting for Jeanette, Phil & Jen to pick me up outside the convention center, I posted the following:
Didn’t make the cut. Absolutely no regrets. I feel I gave a great audition and did exactly what I set out to do. No need for sadness or disappointment. Was a fantastic experience. I’d do it again. Now its time to party in chi town. Thanks again for all the encouragement and support!!
Did I want to advance? Of course! But to be honest, I wasn’t disappointed! Had I botched my audition, forget the words or crapped myself… I’d have been disappointed! From a talent standpoint, I had as good a shot as anyone who auditioned.
The Voice Casting folks ran an extremely well organized audition! I don’t know exactly numbers, but there was no drama. Everyone I ran into (artists and the voice people) was very nice. Based on my experience today, I would consider auditioning again!
The take away is this: If there’s anything you have ever wanted to do – don’t cheat yourself. DO IT. You’ll be glad you did. I know I was. Thanks for reading my story, I hope you enjoyed the ride as much as I did living it!
A Little background on me…
I’m a 41-year-old kid who has been performing since I was around 12 or 13 I would guess. I’ve always been able to sing well for as long as I could remember, and it came very easy to me. Outside of public school training, I’ve never had any other formal vocal training. I’ve been fortunate to play and collaborate with some of the best musicians around Cleveland. Thanks to the support of my family and numerous friends I’ve met along the way, I’ve enjoyed an extremely rewarding musical career over the last 20 years. I’ve been married to my best friend since 2000 and we have 3 truly amazing kids.