By Nicole Gennarelli
Singing in front of Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick, Jr., and Keith Urban started as a dream and quickly became a reality for sophomore Visual Communication Design (VCD) student Nancy Wilson when she tried out for American Idol last summer.
Wilson auditioned in Detroit, Mich., last summer where she made it through the intimidating first screening round and received two call backs, one during fall semester and one over winter break.
“The process is very lengthy and based on luck most of the time,” she said. “The first screening rounds are the hardest, because they cut almost everyone; out of the thousands of people who auditioned in Detroit, around 40 made it through to the celebrity judge rounds. There are three audition rounds that people go through before the celebrity auditions and some spend years trying to get there. This was my third year auditioning.”
Wilson has been singing since she was two years old, so being nervous while singing is not usual for her.
“Singing in front of the judges was so nerve wracking,” said Wilson. “And that’s crazy coming from me because I usually don’t get nervous.”
Once Wilson sang in front of the celebrity judges, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick, Jr. agreed to pass her through to the Hollywood auditions, but Keith Urban disagreed. Wilson then flew to Los Angeles to sing again for the celebrity judges. Unfortunately during this round, she got sent home, but is thankful for the experience she had.
“This experience has been phenomenal for me,” she said. “The actual competition was a bit frustrating and a lot of waiting, but it’s nice to be surrounded by people who love the same thing you do.”
Wilson says that everyone who has a passion for music and singing should try out because you have nothing to lose.
“Don’t take what happens in the auditions to heart; it’s very hard to get through on these shows,” she said. “But go and meet people with your same dream; go make connections and friends and jam out with people who love what you do. If nothing else, it’s a day well spent with music.”
Although he didn’t get to sing in front of the American Idol celebrity judges, Andy Lovrak’s audition process is one he will also cherish forever.
Lovrak, a junior advertising major, decided to try out for American Idol when auditions came to Detroit, Mich., this past summer. Singing has always been a passion of his, so he jumped at the opportunity of making his dreams come true.
“I have always wanted to try out. I have been watching the show since I was 10 years old, and every kid dreams of being some sort of celebrity,” he said. “I always knew that I was eventually going to try out, but I didn’t want anyone to know. This year ended up being perfect because it was a close location, and I could just sneak away for a few days, so I went for it.”
Lovrak left Kent at 4 a.m. on a Saturday morning, arrived in Detroit around 8 a.m. and waited in line to audition for six hours. Once Lovrak and his friend made it through the line, they went through a quick registration process and were told to be back at 5 a.m. the next day.
“We then woke up the next morning and drove out to the stadium,” he said. “The exit to get to the stadium was so backed up it was crazy. We finally got in line and just waited. There were cameras everywhere, but I kind of hid from them, because if I didn’t make it I didn’t want anyone to know I tried out. Waiting in line had to be one of the most miserable things I have ever done. There were a lot of parents there who were living through their kids mixed with people who were willing to do anything to get noticed. A 15-year-old girl sneezed on me seven times, and I almost got out of line right there.”
After waiting in line for what seemed like forever, Ryan Seacrest came out and gave the audience a pep talk, Lovrak said.
“They had ten tables set up on the football field with two producers at each,” he said. “You went up in lines of 4, sang, and then most everyone got cut. The ones who made it through got to cross the field, wave their golden ticket in the air, and then went into a tunnel. Everyone else just walked up the stairs.”
Around 4 p.m., Lovrak finally got his chance to audition. Lovrak and his friend wound up at different audition tables and he was the first in his line to sing.
“Most people got cut off around 15 seconds and that was all they got. I started singing and realized that I was singing way longer than expected,” Lovrak said. “When I finished I was asked to sing a second song. I did and then got back in line. The three other girls in my line went and then they called us all up. The producer started with, “Thanks for coming out, you all did great.” I just kind of figured that this was their nice way of cutting us. He then said, “Girls I am sorry but it is a no for now, but Andy if you could stay back.” I don’t think I have ever had my heart beat so fast. He looked at me and said, “You didn’t think you were going to make it, did you?” I said no and he told me to have some confidence in myself. So I got the golden ticket and went across the field. It was the craziest moment of my life, walking across a football field, holding up a golden ticket as thousands of people cheered for me. There were 8000 of us that tried out and about 200 made it.”
After receiving his golden ticket at the Detroit auditions, Lovrak’s call back audition was September 13 in a Detroit hotel. The producers made everyone sing “Sign, Sealed, Delivered” many times as a group and then gave them a pep talk.
“The head producer walked in and said, “We are judging you on your voice, your looks and your personality. If you don’t like it go try out for The Voice,”” he said. “I will never forget it.”
After another four hours of waiting, it was finally Lovrak’s turn to audition in front of the producers.
“I went into a room with the producers and started singing. About 10 seconds in the girl and guy in the middle started arguing because the guy wanted to put me through and the girl did not,” Lovrak said. “They were arguing very loud which made it really hard to concentrate. The girl then waved her hand in the air and said ‘It’s a no for now. You just aren’t there yet.’ That was the end for me.”
Although Lovrak didn’t make it to Hollywood, there isn’t a thing he would change about his audition experience.
“I never in a million years thought I would make it through, and I did,” he said. “The thing I kept telling myself was that if I never tried then I would never know. At least if I tried I couldn’t regret it later. Getting that first golden ticket was the best moment of my life, but it took a lot out of me. I wouldn’t change a thing about it though.”