From The Voice to open mic night in Rockford

Voice-update-studioA couple weeks ago, Rockford natives Matt Vermeer and Michael Sunday had an opportunity afforded to few people; they were invited to a callback for a national television show. They went to New York to audition for The Voice with high hopes and low expectations, and were passed through the first round of auditions. At the first audition they were required to sing completely acapella (no instruments) but at the callbacks instruments were a strict requirement, adding a new dynamic to the pressure of auditioning.

Even though they had not expected to be called back they had done some preparation for the possibility and had two of the three songs for their callback picked out a few weeks in advance. They were told at the initial audition to “pick a cool song”, so they decided to consult their friends on Facebook for advice on what current, popular song would be considered “cool”. After receiving multiple recommendations for Gone, Gone, Gone, by Phillip Phillips (last season’s American Idol winner), they listened to the song a few times and agreed to use it as their third song. They also had prepared The Prayer as performed by Josh Groban and Charlotte Church, and Why Don’t We Just Dance by Josh Turner. One of the largest criteria in their song selection was their desire to display their multi-genre capabilities, and in accordance with that purpose they decided to do each song with a different kind of accompaniment; one with guitar, one with piano, and one with a kareoke track. They had plenty of time to practice in their hotel room as they waited three days for the callback, but they did have some difficulties; Mike had a wisdom tooth come in on Monday that was diagnosed as impacted, which effected his throat, ear, jaw, and gave him headaches. They also had no place to practice The Prayer, since they were using a piano for that song. Tom at World Wide Piano ended up saving the day by letting them use a practice room in the showroom’s building in Edison, New Jersey.

When the day of the audition arrived, Matt and Mike had to be out of their hotel room by 11am, and their callback was scheduled for 4pm. They checked out at 10:50 and went straight to S.I.R. Studios in downtown Manhattan, arriving at 11:30 even though it was only a seven-and-a-half mile drive. They had decided to pay the $16/hr cost of parking due to the convenience of the garage being on the same road, not even 50 yards away from the studios. They were ushered through the registration quickly despite

being nearly 5 hours early, and shortly found themselves in a decently-sized waiting room with nothing to do, thus allowing nerves to accumulate.

Eventually their names were called and they were brought to a line leading to the audition room, giving them even more time to wait and build up nervous energy. When they entered the room for their audition there were three other people in the room; a cameraman, a sound engineer, and a Voice producer. As they exchanged pleasentries with the producer they were shepherded into their places in front of the camera and microphones were set up. Before they realized it, it was time to perform. They sang Gone, Gone, Gone and the producer enjoyed it, saying afterwards “I think that’s all we need, boys! Thank you very much for taking the time to come out and audition today!”

Voice-updateAs they left the studios they took a quick picture even though photography was strictly prohibited (they made sure to not get anything other than themselves in the picture), and they began their 13 hour trip home directly from the parking garage in downtown Manhattan. Matt ended up driving the entire way, allowing Mike to sleep and rest his head/jaw in light of the pain his tooth was causing him. Now, a week later, they certainly don’t expect to be on the show but they are extremely grateful for the opportunity to go as far as they did in the audition process!

Mike has had his surgery to remove his wisdom teeth and they are getting ready to go back to their respective colleges and choral programs in just a few weeks. They may decide to come to the open mic night by the dam one of the Thursday nights in the next few weeks, so if you’d like to hear them make sure to go down!

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