Thursday, January 29, 2009

Final Audition Night- Puerto Rico and NC

Finally, the auditions are done! I feel like I haven't gotten to see any of the great singers, so next week in Hollywood, maybe they will grace us with a look and a listen.
There was some meanness again tonight from Simon that was hard for me to take. And then, the segment of many people crying was miserable. Are we supposed to enjoy them shoving the camera in all these disappointed people's faces? Bravo to Kara and Paula for making it a priority to be kind. I really don't enjoy the audition part of this contest; probably I wouldn't like it much better if I were a judge, but I would try my best not to hurt people. Simon's preferred heartbreaking line seems to be: "Is this a joke?" Duh, no one is joking when they audition, except my favorite performer of the night; Norman Gentle. I loved him. He was really funny and let Simon have it, with a great one liner that implied that Ryan and Simon were an item. Even Simon couldn't help but laugh at that one. And the thing was, Norman could really sing, but insisted on being his truly corny self and that didn't fit in with the "Idol format". Amazingly, they sent him to Hollywood! I thought he was refreshing and really entertaining! I'm still laughing! I hope he goes far. There was one other singer that I really enjoyed: Melinda Camille, who had a lovely voice and a vibrant personality. She could have a good career.

There was a local who auditioned right here from Dutchess County that didn't make it to Hollywood; her name is Courtney Nardone and she attended Arlington High School. Sorry we didn't get to see her audition.
I also had one of my own vocal students audition. She came to me 2 years ago with the goal of learning how to sing, so she could audition for American Idol. I kept reminding her that if she loved to sing, that American Idol could be one goal, but that there were plenty of other avenues she could consider as a singer. I believe she had her head on straight when the time came to audition. She is a young, but impressive singer and she told me that she never even got in to see the main judges, that they only let her sing for preliminary judges, and then she got cut. And she waited on line for 2 days, all through the night. I've seen terrible singers make it in to see the main judges, so it seems baffling who they let in and don't. She also told me that she heard much better singers than herself that didn't get to sing for the judges, so, go figure. That's show biz.
Other impressions tonight:
Jorge had a nice voice but sang too high and was painfully strained.
Quick 5 second shots of Kenny Hoffpauer and Kendall Beard were impressive.
And finally, Monique the 16 year old, was charming especially with her 9 year old brother Christopher calling the shots. I think her voice isn't mature enough yet, therefore she could really hurt herself singing big songs, so I hope she doesn't go too far just yet. Another year or 2 and she'll be ready if she keeps studying and working on her vocal strength and maturity.
So who was your favorite of all the auditioners?
I think mine was Lil Round.
Can't wait to see what happens in Hollywood.
I'll be on the Morning Mix tomorrow @ 7:35 AM on 97.7 FM radio to talk more about Idol with Bob Miller. Tune in!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Salt Lake City Auditions

Tonight was a bit more interesting and less tedious. No one really cried too much and Simon wasn't mean to anyone, how refreshing. There were a few good singers that were fun to watch; but no one blew me away. Here's what stood out in my mind:
The young Osmond guy-I liked his voice a lot. Beautiful singer. Hope he stays healthy.
Frankie-She had a jazzy kind of voice, I don't know if it is strong enough to withstand all they throw at the singers on the show, but we'll see.
Megan-unique voice, I wasn't sure if I liked it or not.
Austin-high school student, 17: Nice voice
Taylor-16 Nice singing, very developed voice
Rose-17, I didn't think her voice was really that great, but I liked her personality, and of course, they really made us feel bad about her loss of both her parents.
More auditions tomorrow, from my home town, NYC!
What did you think?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Jacksonville Auditions

So, this is really getting tedious, watching these auditions. Maybe it's because they don't show too many good singers. We seem to get a smattering of talent, along with more bad singers and Simon making them cry. Looking forward to seeing some real talent at the finals.
My assessment on some singers they did show:
Jasmine was a good singer, young, beautiful and sweet.
TK was decent. good that he came back again, why didn't he get farther last year?
I like that they gave Anne Marie a second chance; that was a good lesson for her. They weren't even mean to her. She was also quite talented.
Okay, hopefully tomorrow will be more inspirational.
What do you think about the audition shows????

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Auditions in Louisville

Another audition night. I am looking forward to the actual finalists; this is grueling. I guess that's how the judges feel too, only they get paid lots of money to watch this and we don't. Kara got a little mean tonight, Simon is rubbing off on her, already! She apologized though. Kara, don't go to the dark side, please!
There were a few good singers tonight from what they showed us, but I liked the last singer best. I didn't catch her name. She had the most character and of course, a moving story. Joanne Pacitti was a good singer as well. You could see she had a lot of experience, signed to a record label already.
Brent Smith good rocker, nice voice, handsome too.
Matt Giraud, the dueling piano player, he had character.
Alexis Grace sang an Aretha song, not what you would think would come out of her. She was cute. I liked her. Well, we'll see what comes of these singers.
What did you think of tonight's show?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Auditions in San Francisco

Well, after this emotional and historical inauguration day, it was so hard to watch something as superficial as American Idol auditions. I kept flipping back and forth between the Inaugural ball with President Obama and his wife dancing to Beyonce's rendition of "At Last" and then to some really bad singers trying their best. What a contrast between the professional singers and the auditioners. Guess I shouldn't do that, it's not fair to them. I was just so taken watching Barak and Michelle dance together.It just warmed my heart. So, I feel very distracted. It's time to go out and celebrate, or should I stay home and watch the best singers in the world, like Stevie Wonder, or Alicia Keys? Hmmm, community or great music, gotta decide soon.

There were a few good singers tonight from what I saw, but I was not blown away by anyone. Tatiana talked them into sending her to Hollywood and so did Jesus. They were both decent singers, but very stylized. I doubt they will make it into the finals, not versatile enough. It goes to show you that if you really believe in yourself, you gotta push for you, because no one else is going to do it for you. A good lesson for us all.

So I look forward tomorrow when I can focus a bit more. Now on to the rest of the night! Happy Inauguration Day!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Night 2 of Auditions-Kansas City

So many people I know say that they can't watch American Idol because they don't want to see the judges be cruel to the poor schnooks who think they can sing well and really can't. Well, I still think Simon was too mean tonight. Man, I sound like a broken record, but I can't get past that. I hate mean. What can I say? Does anyone else feel this way that is reading this blog? Okay, maybe it's not exciting TV, but can't they just say, "you need to keep working on your voice. Take some lessons; here's Vickie's number."
Okay, besides that, it was a very entertaining show tonight. Better than last night for sure. There was some impressive talent. The very last woman to sing was my favorite-Lil Rounds. Wow, she had some chops! Of course I was moved by Danny Gokey, the guy whose wife just died and he could sing as well. I was pleasantly surprised by Anoop, the geeky guy: soulful and fun. All in all, I look forward to more exceptional singers. I thought the first singer was really good, but I didn't remember her name. She was beautiful, charming and could really sing, the most commercial of anyone I've seen. I'll bet she is in the top 5 finalists. Who did you like? I'd love to hear back from you. Looking forward to next week. Is it really going to be on during the Inaugeration?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Season 8: The Auditions

This is the first time I've sat through an entire American Idol audition show. I have to say, it wasn't as painful to watch as the past audition shows. Simon seemed a bit more subdued, or have I just gotten used to him? I imagine that if I were a judge, after listening to hundreds of singers a day, I'd start to get impatient and frustrated if the singers weren't very good, and might even let a negative remark slip out by accident. But I'm a voice teacher, not a judge, and I am paid for my patience and guidance. I don't think Simon tries to hold back anything for fear of hurting these people's feelings. He just wants to get through the day as quickly as possible. I like the new judge, Kara; she spoke up when she had an opinion, and made some helpful suggestions, even though she was the new kid on the block.
There were some good voices. I liked Emily Wynn-Hughes , J.B. Ahfua, Arianna Afsar, and Stevie Wright best. But there's a lot more to come. So I'll wait and see who else seems to have star potential. I look forward to tomorrow night.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A New American Idol Season Is Upon Us

Wow, has it been 8 months already? I've been so busy with my own career performing, shooting a music video and teaching, that I didn't even notice the time flying by. But January is always a month for me to take time off from performing, to write some new songs and to go within. It’s also a good time to observe what is going on in American pop culture.
So, I’m ready to experience a whole new season of talent, a new judge, and who knows what kind of drama from Simon. I dread watching the audition shows, because as a performer and vocal teacher myself, I feel compassion and empathy for the singer, and I always want to encourage and support people to sing if they feel passionate about it, as it is a form of self-expression. Maybe they shouldn't sing in public until they are ready i.e., have gotten some positive feedback from friends and possibly had some vocal/performance training or classes, or have gotten some experience and positive feedback at open mics. But on the other hand, the auditions are fun to watch because I like to pick out the winner in the very beginning and see if I'm right.
I have listened to many new students coming into my studio, full of fear in exposing their most vulnerable part of themselves: their voice. The human voice is our identity. It can’t be separated from who we are. I think of the times I’ve heard the sound of someone’s recorded voice played back after they’ve died. It brings me right back to their very essence.
It takes huge courage to sing in front of anyone, especially people that are judging you. I find it awfully painful when the judges say cruel things to the auditioners. Sometimes I have to walk away, or end up yelling at my TV in defense of the poor soul they are torturing.
I have seen dramatic examples of fear in my studio when I ask a new student to sing a few notes for me; of adults shaking uncontrollably or near fainting, or who burst into tears when they open their mouths because sometime in their lives, some teacher or family member told them that they couldn't sing. (I’m talking about tough, truck driver macho guys, heavy metal guitarists, grandmothers, social workers, you name it.) They might be "tone-deaf" (sing off key), an expression I do not believe in. When people sing off key, they either haven't been taught to listen deeply enough to match their voice to the music, or because they lack confidence and therefore cannot hear the music through their fear. The secret is in learning how to relax enough and concentrate deeply enough to hear the music and their own voice and the relationship between the two. I’ve never had a student come to me, young or old, who I couldn’t get to sing on key within a couple of lessons. The younger they are, the faster they can learn new habits; less years of negative feedback, I guess. But I’ve had 5-year olds and 75 year-olds begin to fix their pitch problem within one lesson. It is simply a learned awareness.
The bottom line is: anyone can sing. But it takes time and hard work to learn how to sing well. Some people who go on to the American Idol auditions obviously haven’t put in the work and think they can just sing well naturally, but anyone you see on there with exceptional talent and a beautiful voice has put in the work, believe me. Last year, David Cook and David Archuletta obviously had put in the most time into the craft of singing. And they were the top winners in the end.
Well, I look forward to sharing another season with you and hope you will tune into my weekly blog and share your comments with me. I’ll be talking with Bob Miller on the morning mix 97.7 FM next Tuesday Jan. 13 at 7:30 AM about the upcoming season. Tune in and check out my new music video of my song Yard Sale at