Welcome then to the 4,325th letter in the A-Z Challenge!
My theme revolves around the soon-to-be published memoir, REVIVAL, which I wrote for former professional opera singer, Donald Braswell.
"S" is for "Singer"
Along with thousands of others, Donald has arrived at the Dallas auditions for America’s Got Talent, (Season 3) Nervous and excited, he considers a television appearance/audition to be the first pinnacle on the show's steep musical mountain…
…Sometime later, they call another batch of numbers, and it’s like winning the AGT lotto: I’m in this group! Like-performing acts are escorted into smaller holding areas. I’m soon channeled and standing in front of a judging panel.
After some quick introductions, someone asks the obvious: “What are you going to sing?”
“Opera is one of my strengths. I’d like to sing the classical Nessun Dorma.”
I sing for the allotted time. Within a minute, another judge looks over at me.
“You’re phenomenal, you gotta go through.”
“Wow. Thanks. Thank you so much.”
I’m genuinely surprised, and it’s exciting to think I’m about to face the television judges.
Instead, I go through several more auditions, before I find myself in front of another large panel, with, I believe, at least one of the main show producers.
One of the panelists looked up from some notes, says hello, and asks if I’d lost my voice from an accident?
A female panelist asks the traditional question and I respond with the now-traditional answer: “Nessun Dorma.”
“No, no, no, I don’t want to hear Nessun Dorma, what else do you have?” asked the first panelist.
I’m taken aback, so my mouth works faster than my head.
“May I ask what’s wrong with Nessun Dorma?”
“We’ve heard a lot of opera singers, and someone will represent that side of the industry, so I need something else. Do you have anything that’s not opera?”
Visions of my original Juilliard audition pop into my head, and I think of Clorinda for the first time in years.
“Well, I had—have—a few other classical pieces, but prepped some other songs in case you wanted something different. How about Josh Groban’s You Raise Me Up.”
“I love that song,” said a female panelist. “How’d you choose that one?”
“It’s a song that inspires me to keep moving forward, no matter the odds.”
“A perfect song for your story,” she said, looking up from her desk. “The stage is yours.”
Singing, I sense the judges staying with me, listening to every word. I finish with my normal flourish.
Standing on the audition spot, I’m projecting a façade of outward calm, but an internal flame burns inside me. My pulse pounds in my wrists and neck and adrenalin flows through my veins. I hand the microphone off, and stand patiently, ready to receive their questions or decision.
The panel convenes in low voices for what seems an eternity. Then, one of the judges introduces himself as Jason. Sat in the middle, he seems to be in charge. He looks me in the eye and pulls his glasses down a little.
“Donald! First, let me say you are extremely talented. One of the best we’ve heard. And your story is compelling to say the least,” said Jason. “My dilemma is that this is one of the last cities we’ve come to.”
I nod, waiting for the but…
“AGT is a variety show, but most of the acts we seen around the nation are singers. We’ve heard thousands and thousands, and picked many, many more than we should have.
“I think you’ll have a singing career, but right now, I don’t have room for you, so it will have to be a no for the show—unless you’ve some other talent?”
I had nothing.
“I’m sorry. We do, however, appreciate you coming and wish you the very best. You can always audition again next year. Thank you.”
And that was that...
Tomorrow: "T" is for "Talent"