It was a short visit and a disappointing one, but all the same it was a great experience and a ton of fun. My day started at 4:45 am when my alarm clock went off. For the record, I’m not the camp-out-in-line type. I jumped in the shower and tried to wake up. Then I was doing my hair and getting dressed. I grabbed the bags I had packed the night before, containing make-up, a change of nicer clothes, 3 water bottles, all the forms and identification I’d need and enough travel food to get through breakfast, lunch, and dinner if needed. What I should have grabbed was a warmer coat.
By 5:15 I was jumping in my dad’s truck (He’s up every morning by 4:30 and off to the restaurant for coffee) and on my way to the Ramada Marlborough hotel at 331 Smith St. downtown. I don’t think I would have stayed awake on the bus long enough to get off at the right stop and there’s no way I’d pay for parking for a whole day downtown. Either way it’s a darned good thing my dad hates to sleep in.
I’m at the hotel and walking around the block by about 5:45 am checking things out. There were a handful of people awake and crawling out of sleeping bags and tents. I wish I had gotten a few pictures of that, but alas, it was still too dark out for cameras. By 6 am, when CI staff were walking around the block waking people up and telling them that all camp-out gear had to put away (they weren’t going to be allowed in the hotel or in line), I was already in the line that started to form.
It was a long, cold wait. At about 7:30 the CI staff started making the rounds getting the line organized in single or double file, the one auditioning to the right side of the line and anyone accompanying them to the left. About half an hour later they came down the line giving paper bracelets to everyone auditioning in line by 8 am. It wasn’t till closer to 10 am that the line actually started to move. It was a very long, cold wait.
On the brighter side, it was an entertaining wait. I’ll tell you from personal experience, if you want to hear the talent in Winnipeg, stand around waiting with them for a chance at greatness. There was a point when, standing in line and waiting, I almost decided I’d rather just sit and listen to everyone else all day than actually do any singing myself. It was incredible. I wish I could add my video tape footage to this article so you could see and hear it all. There was a 16 year old girl with her mother waiting in line just behind me. I spent a lot of time with them that day. Rochelle had one of the most stunning voices I’d ever heard and she was still young enough that her voice was still developing and strengthening. She sang almost the entire time that we were in line, everything from Whitney Houston classics to country ballads to Christine Aguilera pop songs. And she was amazing with each one of them. There was also a group down the line a bit that all sang in the same choir. The sounds that came out of them together seemed more than just 6 people, it sounded more like an entire choir with an orchestra backing them. I didn’t even hear the words to most of their songs. I just loved the way their voices harmonized and blended with each other and then flowed down the line and caught everyone’s attention. No joke, when they sang together, even Rochelle stopped singing to listen.
Finally, we arrived at the front of the line. I think it was almost 11:30 am by then but I can’t be sure. I was too cold to take my hands out of the sleeves of my sweater to be checking my watch and I was too excited to take any notice of the time anyway. Once inside the building (they were letting 20 people in at a time) I went directly to the table to my left (which apparently was a good table to hit) and did the paperwork. I was one of those who got through pretty quick because I had all my ID and forms (printed off the internet 2 months earlier) signed and ready to go. I was #184. Rochelle, right behind me coming in, went to the table on the right and got a number in the early 500’s. We were then all escorted upstairs to a large hall (seen on the front page of the papers the next day) to wait.
We were nearing the front of the line; nerves were at an all-time highI think it was just about 1 pm (Again I can’t be sure, I can’t remember looking at a clock at all after finally getting into the building), might have been earlier, when everyone was inside, registered, numbered and waiting impatiently for the auditions to begin. There were a few speakers, producers and TV people and the like, I barely remember a word they said, I just wanted to get started. And then they started putting the first 100 people in line and started sending them in to see the judges. It’s worth noting at this point that this first step wasn’t being judged by the CI Judges, first we were seen by some producer type people who “know what the judges are looking for”. They ask you to sing a verse and chorus of one song and then inform you if you are being sent to the CI judges (who were yet to be announced by the way). There were 3 judging rooms going at a time, with one group (5 people) in each. So once things started rolling the line was actually moving pretty quickly.
We were nearing the front of the line; nerves were at an all-time high. We’re all watching the door to see who came back with the yellow paper (the yellow paper meant you made it to the next step) and who came back empty handed. All of a sudden we hear something start. A small group somewhere in the room started to sing Oh Canada. Almost instantly the entire room was singing the national anthem in unison. Can you imagine anything more awesome?! Over 600 people, talented people at that, singing so perfectly in synch with each other that I got goosebumps! It was incredible. If for no other reason, the entire experience was worth it, just to hear that.
They called my group’s numbers and out we went, down the hall, squeezing by and between at least 100 bodies, and then down the stairs one floor to sit in another small hallway, in 5 chairs lined up beside a door. The door opened, 3 people walked out of a room that 5 people had walked in. The other two had left just before we sat down. The 3 that walked away from us had smiles and yellow papers. It was out turn.
I did my best; I don’t think I could have done any better. For the judges, it wasn’t good enough I guess. Maybe it was the song I used (Independence Day, by Martina McBride, last verse and chorus), maybe it was the judges, or maybe it really was that I sucked. I don’t know. Once all 5 of us had finished singing, the judge in the middle asked the three that made it to stay, me and one other girl were asked to leave the room. No yellow papers for us.
I promised myself in December when I started to apply that no matter what happened I wouldn’t be upset or too disappointed. And I promised myself that I wouldn’t cry. Not crying wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I realized very early that day that I was literally surrounded by incredibly talented people. And walking back up to the “waiting hall” as I called it, I knew that this June, we would all be in for an intense competition on TV.