I am very angry. I am angry with music reality show auditions. I am very certain that this piece will make some of my music friends that have been disappointed like me, very happy. At the end, I just hope that I have been able to let out all the anger in my system.
Alright, I sing, I play the drums and I also write songs. I started singing from my mother’s womb. When i was born, I sang so passionately that tears flowed from my eyes (talk about energy and passion on my first ever performance). The adults around said i cried, but for me, i sang. I grew up singing and at some point; the bathroom became my mini studio. Once i step into the bathroom, i perform in front of my unseen audience. I remember one time in school, at my uncle’s place. I went to have my bath and typical of face me, I face you houses, the bathroom was at the back of the compound. I stepped in, performed and by the time i came out, i realised that most of my neighbours had come out to see who it was that was in the bathroom. I was so shy that i only managed to walk to my room. From that day, every time my neighbours see me with my bucket of water, they begin to hail me. I felt like a super star.*adjusts shirt collar*.
I joined the choir in my church and my fellowship in school. I became a better singer while singing in the choir. My music person improved. Of course, i had my share of disgraceful and annoying moments on stage (let’s not even go there). I finally made up my mind after so much persuasion from friends and family members to enter for music auditions. Going for these auditions have made me realise that there are many talented singers in Nigeria and many others that are not talented at all when it comes to singing but believe in themselves. They come on national television and disgrace their family, village, generation and unborn children. (In short, that’s a topic for another day). The first I went for, I was told the usual stuff your hear at the end of job interviews: “we’ll get back to you”. I am still waiting. I am very sure that they would get back to me. I have been waiting for their call for some years now. Why do I hate music auditions? I won’t talk about waiting endlessly in the rain or sun on an empty stomach to get auditioned (it is normal, because you don’t expect to win millions of naira just like that) I have issues with the judges. Yes the judges.
Some of the judges, I admire. Some, I see on TV and I wonder to myself ‘who is this?’ ‘What does he/she know about music?’ ‘Is he/she still relevant in the music industry?’ (if you are waiting for me to mention names, you are on your own). As if that is not enough, the judges make comments that I do not understand. For example, ‘you have an amazing voice, i love the sound of your voice, but i think you should come back next year’. What? What is that? If I have a great voice, how is it that you do not see it right to pick me? Then, ‘next year’. Next year? They make next year sound like tomorrow. *sigh*. Another one is: ‘you sound like a girl’. ‘You don’t have strength in your voice’. Excuse me?! What about Michael Jackson? Did he not have that feminine kind of voice? As a kid, I used to think Tracy Chapman was a guy because of the sound of her voice. About voice strength, we all can’t sound the same now. Some have resorted to shouting so as to show the ‘strength’ of their voice. Then there is this one ‘you are too good for this competition’. The guy/girl is just looking for a platform to launch his/her dreams and you just succeeded in spoiling that person’s hustle. God dey o.
My friend was once told, after singing three songs: ‘You sound too confident’. I was confused. Should he have sounded shy or nervous? Is that another criteria for qualification? We are conversant with the music show that takes the contestants through an academy. If as a judge, you notice the person’s talent but believe he/she needs to learn a few things. Rather than tell the person to go home, why not allow the person to go through the academy and become better? After all, that is what the academy is for.
Despite all these, I really feel that as singers, we make certain mistakes and do not consider the tight situations the judges find themselves in. There are thousands of singers competing for very few slots, so there is no way everyone would get picked. It means you would have to bring something else to the table apart from your voice. Sometimes you need luck too. The judges might just like you for reasons you may never be able to explain. Another mistake is the song selection. You might have an amazing voice, but pick the wrong song. Imagine yourself as a judge and a contestant comes before you to sing ‘this woman’s work’ by Maxwell. You would want to hear how that person will perform it. That song in my opinion is not a song you want to sing at an audition as acapella, except you are very certain that you can perform it well.
Sometimes, we make the mistake of picking some popular songs and bore the judges. Like one time i went for an audition, most of the ladies that came sang Adele’s ‘someone like you’. Haba!? I got tired of hearing it as a contestant. Imagine what the judges must have felt. R Kelly’s ‘I believe I can fly’ is another one. Try singing something else. There are thousands of good songs to pick from.
Finally, nothing good comes easy. Life doesn’t always present opportunities for us to easily have. Sometimes, we have to fight for our dreams and show that we really deserve some the chances we get. Also, music audition shows are not the only ways to realising our dreams as musicians (this includes me). I have told myself that whether i get picked or not, I’ll keep pushing and pushing until my dreams manifest. Imagine if Fela had gone for any of these music show auditions. Would he have been picked? Maybe he would have been told that music was not for him but we know the story of the legend of Fela. What of Asa? See how far she has gone with her music. (Heard she went for an audition and was told she wasn’t good enough).
I have come too far to turn back now. It is already late for that. It is your dream right? Live it.