‘America’s Got Talent’ attracts local singers

Alekya Raghavan | Staff Writer

Mason’s got talent.

The popular reality-competition show, America’s Got Talent, will be going into its 13 season on NBC in May 2018, and with the new season comes a new group of contestants. Among those auditioning are several Mason students.

Fans of the show are familiar with its four round system: ‘Auditions,’ Judge Cuts,’ ‘Quarterfinals, ‘Semifinals,’ and the ‘Finals.’ But a lesser-known and more arduous process takes place for the six months prior to the season premiere: a nationwide search for entertaining and extraordinary talent.

This process is simple enough. Wannabe contestants have the option to send in a video audition online or drive over to their nearest audition city for an open call audition. At the open call, performers are given 90 seconds to showcase their talents in front of producers of the show. The hard part, however, is delivering a performance powerful enough to impress the producers and make it onto the next step.

Freshman Anvi Tawde, who sang Kelly Clarkson’s Piece by Piece at Cincinnati’s open call auditions, said that preparation is constant for this kind of audition because of the pressure and high stakes.

“With auditioning in general, there’s always the idea that you’re not good enough. There’s also the fact that I’m really young for this. It’s just your level of experience and how you’re doing with it,” Tawde said. “For this audition, [the practice] is day and night, all the time. I take vocal classes and piano classes and guitar classes once a week, every week. I have a set up at my house for guitar and vocals. I play my track and practice my guitar first, or just sing vocals with the track. Basically just practice and run the track over and over again. It’s the same thing everyday.”

In AGT’s 13 seasons, this is the first year that Cincinnati is an audition city; it hosted open call auditions at the Duke Energy Convention Center on November 14. And while some are doing it for the fame and others are doing it for the million-dollar cash prize, freshman Claire Northcut said that, for her, this audition is another must-do experience and another step in her singing career.

“I’ve been singing since I was little,” Northcut said. “I’ve always wanted to entered one of those really big competitions. I did a few competitions when I was younger. I did Mason Idol. I got eliminated the first year that I did it, but then I went and did it again. I’m just really driven. And I ended up winning. After that, I enter Cincinnati’s Got Talent and I won that when I was nine. When I found out the America’s Got Talent was coming to Cincinnati, I signed up.”

Northcut, who performed The Girl in 14G by Kristin Chenoweth for her audition, said that pressure comes not necessarily from the show itself, but from her personal life, in trying to live up to a family legacy.

“It’s intimidating because my whole family does music,” Northcut said. “Both my parents are professional musicians. My brother plays guitar and plays piano and sings. They always want me to be perfect with music. That’s kind-of nerve wracking.”

Senior Kayla Blumberg said that, although the chance of advancing to the live show is one in thousands, she is in it for the fun.

“Everyone thinks about it when they’re little, ‘what it would be like to audition?’,” Blumberg said. “It’s a bucket-list kind of thing. It’s not like I’m thinking that I’m going to be famous, it’s just for the experience. I’m kind of nervous, but I’m not expecting anything big to happen so it’s just going to be fun.”