The most striking aspect of the reality TV competition show “The Voice” is the blind audition round, where would-be competitors sing for four judges whose backs are turned. However, as one hopeful discovered recently, the initial judging rounds are far more impersonal.
Katie (surname withheld by request), 27, Yosemite National Park, Calif., auditioned in San Francisco. She has been singing since before she could speak, performing in a church choir and two other singing groups. More recently, she was a performer at a local bar, singing for tips.
While she and her then-boyfriend were watching the first season of “The Voice,” he turned to her and said, “You know you could be on there, right?” She resisted the idea at first but then agreed to try.
The process began when Katie signed up at the show’s Web site. She picked an audition city and was assigned a date and time. The actual venue wasn’t revealed until about two to three weeks before the audition (though it was changed a week later).
Going in, Katie’s expectations were simply “to sing my heart out and have fun.”
She showed up at around 11:45 for her 2 p.m. call time and checked in with two big security guys who were manning the line. After checking her ID and audition pass, they sent her to the next checkpoint. There, her bag was checked for weapons, and she was sent to the back of the building and issued a line number.
About 20 minutes later, she was checked in, issued a blue wristband, and sent to the end of another line. There, her audition pass was scanned, and she was taken back outside to another line. Finally, she was seated in a large auditorium, where she read her book and talked with her neighbors.
At 3:30 (an hour and a half past her call time), the auditioners were taken in groups of 10 to smaller audition rooms. Her group waited for about another 125 minutes before the previous group exited, looking unhappy.
Katie’s group sat on chairs facing a table. A woman behind the table told them to step up when their names were called and sing a verse and a chorus, adding, “Don’t be alarmed if I am looking down. I am listening to you. All this is based on your voice, so I don’t have to watch you.”
When it was Katie’s turn, she sang “Country Song” by Gwyneth Paltrow and was disheartened by the response: “She didn’t say anything except to yawn, which she had been doing throughout all of the auditions.”
Finally, the woman told the group that some of them were “on the cusp of being ready but weren’t there yet.” They were all escorted out, and their wristbands were cut off as they left.
The impersonal experience was a shocker to Katie. “Every audition I have ever attended was in front of someone who wanted to be there and showed respect to every performer that came in front of them. The girl I auditioned for did not show any of the performers the respect we deserved.” Katie also said that she hadn’t expected to be “treated like cattle” before the audition.
Reflecting on her performance, Katie said that she was feeling sick that day but that “it was the best I could do at the time.”
Overall, although she was disappointed in the disrespectful behavior of the judge, she would do it again. “I met some cool people and got a chance to sing,” she said.