Long Live McQueen :: Modern Toile Photography

Right. The audition in New York.

The Voice audition process was well organized, professional, fair and entirely fun. It was also nerve-wracking, hot, crowded and very early. A $70 cab ride carried me 7 miles from NYC to Jersey to line up at 5:20 a.m. I entered the Izod Center around 8 to be corralled for another hour. Finally, I was ushered with 9 other people to a club room. We were seated while the vocal coach for the show explained his audition process. He asked us to ignore our nerves, introduce ourselves, share our age and song selection, to sing our best during our turn and comments would be held until everyone had finished. I was chosen first. There was a few seconds pause while the judge got his iPad ready to record and I cracked a joke about finding my spotlight in the ceiling bulbs illuminating an otherwise darkened room. The judge laughed and said I beamed on camera. He was probably just being polite. But of course, at this point I delude myself into thinking I’m a shoe in. Not to ruin the the ending of this gripping story, but you know what’s coming right?

Delusion is very necessary when putting one’s self on the line.

I had prepared two songs: Fidelity by Regina Spektor and Baby, I Love You by Aretha. I made two game time decisions: start with Aretha and scrap the new 4 inch pinky tan Bennetton heels. In hindsight, this was perhaps not a great strategy, though at least this anecdote doesn’t end with “And then I fell.” Fortunately, no one in my group sang Aretha, Etta James being the crowd favorite. I stood up, threw my shoulders back, relaxed my neck, and got to my big notes as quickly as possible. I only had about 3o seconds in front of the judge. It was all over so fast.

Of the 10 in my group, 8 were women. The median age was 22, with two outliers around 40. Four had natural talent. Six wasted their morning. No one got through.

So….I didn’t make it onto The Voice.

Being cut so expediently gave us the entire day to play in Manhattan. As it was brutally hot, we opted for air conditioning and the Alexander McQueen exhibit at The Met. Ahhhh-MAZING. Arguably, the best curated show I have ever seen. Here’s a tip: if you become a member of The Met you get to skip the 2 hour line to enter the show.

It’s quite sad to see this exhibit knowing that Alexander McQueen is gone and will make no further imaginative contributions to the fashion world. I was drafting my thoughts for the blog when I learned of Amy Winehouse’s death. By no means do I wish to minimize the tragedy in Norway. It is shocking beyond words. As this blog sometimes serves as my corner soap box with which I effuse on matters that touch my heart, I’m going to speak on the tragedy of lost talent. McQueen took his own life and though the cause of Winehouse’s death has not been made public, we can assume her drug use was to blame. Both artists left an indelible mark on their fields and me personally. But it is Winehouse’s songs, more than any other artist, that just fit me. Like her, I was raised on the smokey chanteuses of vinyl by a jazz appreciative father. Her songs were irreverent, sexy, empowered, funny and pained. I felt them as visceral as the vibrations of a tuning fork. That’s the beauty of artists, their work can touch you and reverberate within you so much, you feel a connection to them deeper than you should to someone you’ve never met. It’s the same way for me with authors Margaret Atwood & Nick Hornby, filmmaker Sofia Coppola, and painter Girhard Richter.

I don’t know why some artists lean toward their own self-destruction. Perhaps because creatives are more sensitive to the spectrum of beauty, on one end, bouncy and sweet and on the other end, poignant and still. Compared to the average person, their highs and lows are so much further apart on the Y axis of life.