In a single city, I personally had four different auditions. First the cattle call, where everyone in the coliseum gets to sing for one of the 15 (give or take) tables on the floor. Next I sang for Ken Warwick the first (and now only) executive producer. Then, I made it through Nigel Lythgoe, the other (and now ex) executive producer. Finally, about a month after I first lined up at the FedEx Forum, I got to travel back to Memphis and sing for Randy, Paula, and Simon. This is when my wife decided to have our baby.
By the time I saw the judges, producers had narrowed the field down from 16,000 to around 350. It was quiet in the waiting room because people were filming their “stories” in the front of the room. Each of us was just waiting our turn. I had already become friends with Chris Sligh (we made it through the first round at exactly the same time, but he went to Birmingham for the subsequent rounds of auditions). I met Gina Glocksen and Melinda Doolitte on this final city audition day along with several other people who are still friends. Chris, Gina and I became MySpace friends and stayed closely connected until the day all three of us moved to Los Angeles as semi-finalists for the show.
The day of the final audition, you are moved closer to the hall where the judges are as the wait becomes shorter. Once in the holding room, you watch as one by one people leave the room disappointed, sometimes crushed. And besides a few people who were dressed ridiculously, none of us knew who the “joke” auditions were until we saw the episode air the following January. This includes the people who gave the “joke” auditions.
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