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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

"X" is for the "Big Red X"

My theme revolves around the soon-to-be published memoir, REVIVAL, which I wrote for former professional opera singer, Donald Braswell.
As I near the end of the A-Z Challenge, Donald finally gets to sing in front of the judges -- and the live audience -- at America's Got Talent... but things don't start well...


 

"X" is for "The Big Red X"

###
 

An easy grin rests on my face. The quarter horse is long gone, its unique “gift” scrubbed from the stage. Looking out into the crowd reboots my adrenalin, which mixes with more than a twinge of anxiety.
 
I’m ready—I know I am—for You Raise Me Up, but the audience, the unofficial “fourth judge,” remains unhappy. With the spotlights on me, I can’t see individual members of the audience, but the collected masses do seem anxious to X me off the stage.

 
Yeah, these guys aren’t in a great place….

 
 I’m not letting that minor issue ruin this opportunity. The catcalls that rain down are loud, however, and I struggle to hear the initial questions directed my way.

 
“And your name is…?” said David Hasselhoff, the former Baywatch star.

 
“Hi, my name is Donald Braswell.”

 
“And what do you do?”

 
“I am a singer from San Antonio.”

 
“And have you sung professionally before?”

 
The question takes me off guard, until I realize someone—that guy, Brad?—shared my story with the judges.

 
“Eleven years ago, I was a professional singer and I had a strange accident, and as a result of the injury, I lost my speaking voice.”

 
Hasselhoff asks if this is my first time back on stage?

 
“This is the first time I’ve been on a professional stage in eleven years.”

 
“What are you going to sing for us today?”

 
“I’m going to sing You Raise Me Up, one of Josh Groban’s songs.”

 
“Well, show us what you got.”

 
I nod, lower my head and take a moment. I hear the music, but no more than two notes in, the crowd—the whole crowd—begins to yell, boo and call for an end to my audition. It’s the most ego-deflating experience of my life.
 
 
Never have I received such a vitriolic response to a stage performance, or sung for an audience who didn’t accept my voice right out of the gate. In fact, it’s always been the opposite. During the old days, I understood my limits and never wore myself out, at least vocally. Usually, I’d be “warmed up” or stronger by the end of the opera than at the beginning.

 
Yet, here I am, standing on an empty stage, the focus of thousands of strangers, many with their forearms crossed to form an “X” in case the booing and yelling isn’t sufficient notice of their immediate feelings toward me. First time in my career I’m nervous on stage, the place where I’m most at home—when I’m not at home.
 
Donald Singing on America's Got Talent
 
I appreciate the importance of negative reviews, but this is crazy and it’s annoying me. As sure as hell, I won’t be forced off stage faster than my left-it-all-onstage equestrian friend.
 
Then, the noise and sheer volume of the jeering and catcalls overwhelm me to where I lose all sense of sound. I can barely hear myself sing, and can’t hear the backing track.
 
Can the audience or, more importantly, the judges, even hear me..?

###
 
Tomorrow: "Y" is for "You."
 
 

8 comments:

Jo said...

Must have been a terrifying experience.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Mark - that must have been depressing and so difficult to overcome .. as Jo says .. terrifying ... cheers Hilary

Tamara Narayan said...

Ouch. I can't imagine being in this position. How painful.

Tamara Narayan said...

Ouch. I can't imagine being in this position. How painful.

Lisa said...

The only reason I can read this is because I know what happens next! Seriously, this was so hard, and painful to watch, much less hear about how he felt being there... Lisa, co-host AtoZ 2015, @ http://www.lisabuiecollard.com

quietspirit said...

I watched the video clip,But his speaking of this gives me another perspective. I am glad he prayed before he went on. I couldn't have continued.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

This is the best part of the story so far. I wouldn't have had the nerve to stand on there.

Debra McKellan said...

Seeing that video made me so mad at people in general.

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