I decided to go for it and so I phoned the pub and confirmed my place for March 6th. I was told to prepare three songs, although I would probably only need to sing two.
I immediately started looking through my song list, trying to decide what to sing; I wanted to sing a song that showed off my voice and showed what I could do, but I was a little bit hesitant about singing an operatic song in a pub. In the end, I decided on “O Mio Babbino Caro,” for my first song, “Bring Me To Life,” in the style of Katherine Jenkins for my second song, and “Music of the Night,” from “The Phantom of the Opera” for my third. I figured a variety of music would be best.
Once I had chosen them (which took a while, I must admit; I kept leaning toward “Time to Say Goodbye” instead of “Bring Me To Life,” but I eventually chose the latter) I began to rehearse every day, after gargling salt water and warming up of course.
I practised with my microphone and stand in front of my mirror, paying special attention to my hand movements and facial expressions, and I would also plug in my headphones and microphone into my laptop and sing along to the backing tracks so that I was able to hear myself.
On the day of the show, I warmed up and then rehearsed my songs a couple of times, before putting my dress on and doing my make up, and then Mum did my hair.
However, the worst thing thing that could ever happen to singer happened to me – I lost my voice! I had strained it from over rehearsing; turns out you can have too much of a good thing. I couldn't believe it; I had to sing that night. I wouldn't have minded that much if I were performing for an ordinary event, but this was a talent show; I was being judged on my ability to sing.
I gargled warm salt water and waited for a while before cautiously trying to sing the first line of “O Mio Babbino Caro.” It came out horribly shaky and strained; if I couldn't even sing that, how was I supposed to hit those high notes? I drank some warm water and popped a sore throat sweet into my mouth, and after about half an hour, I tentatively tried again. It didn't sound much better.
I made up my mind to walk to the pub anyway. I felt that walking there would calm my nerves (I already suffer from stage fright and this wasn't helping) and it would rest my voice. I took two bottles of water, my sore throat sweets and some chewing gum, which I chewed on the way there.
When I arrived, I tried to relax and kept drinking my water. When the host, Rachael, arrived, I told of my concerns and she told me not to worry and that I didn't have to sing. I went into the bathroom and sang the first line and to my delight, my voice was back! Feeling happier, but still nervous, I went back into the main room and waited for my turn to do a sound check. There were a few other contestants there, and before I knew it, Rachael had called me over, and feeling that I shouldn't push my luck, I opted to sing “O Mio Babbino Caro,” and “Music of the Night,” rather than risk that high note in “Bring Me To Life.”
To my immense relief, my voice sounded normal; it was steady and it didn't crack or sound strained, so I immediately felt a lot better.
By the time I had finished my sound check, some of the other contestants had arrived, along with audience members and my grandparents. When I returned to my seat, there were lots of other contestants there, with friends and relatives of theirs. One of the acts, a keyboard player (who played a very good “I Believe” by Robson and Jerome, I might add) was talking about me to the man sitting next to them, who had not long arrived, saying that he would be shocked when he heard me sing, and called it a “Susan Boyle moment.” I believe I blushed, and all I could do was smile and stutter my thanks.
The judges arrived (two men and two women) and the contest began. The judges were people who organized local events, and did radio, so that was really interesting.
I grew more and more nervous as I waited for my turn to perform; I get such bad stage fright, in the way that I actually start physically shaking and it affects my pitch, causing me to go off key; I feel a singing teacher will help with this and I'm continuing to look for one even now. I introduced myself and my first song, and just went for it.
The nerves started to kick in on the second song, but I tried not to let them take over and just sang the song.
The judges seemed pleased, one of them, Nicole, called it a “butterfly moment; you came up a little bit nervous... but when you started to sing, it was that butterfly moment, you opened up, you drew everyone in, your confidence grew, you believed in what you were singing.” I don't want to sound like I'm bragging, but hearing that really made my day.
When I arrived back to my seat, someone sent over a bottle of champagne! Even though I'm teetotal, it was still very kind, and I thanked the sender enormously.
I didn't win the competition, but the girl who did totally deserved her win; she was amazing, and I'm going back next month for the next heat!