I sat on the bench and pulled out my Kindle trying to pretend I was distracted and calm. Inside my stomach was churning. I had every faith in the world that Arielle’s personality would shine through but I was worried about her singing. From what I understood at the time there would be two rounds of auditions. Anyone who made it through the first round would get to sing for Mr. Ulrich. I hoped and read and hoped and read. Eventually, I got up and bought some coffee. The woman behind the counter offered to add Kahlua. I chose the whipped cream instead and headed back to my bench.
Moms and friends camped out nearby. I struck up a conversation with a mom from Atlanta. She had spent the night outside in line. She stood guard while her daughter slept. I felt a little guilty knowing there’s no way I would have done that. (I once left a campground for a hotel – sad but true.) This woman was the mom of all moms. She was willing to forgo sleep and a hot shower just so her daughter could be the first to sing for The Glee Project. Not me. Sorry Arielle.
I waited until 2:00 pm. That’s three hours on the bench with my Kindle and coffee and six hours from the time we first got in line. I decided to text Arielle hoping for some good news. She had been down there a long time. Since I don’t have any pictures of the audition process I’ll post our texts.
Nov. 9th 2:01: Me: How’s it going?
2:17pm. Arielle: MADE IT TO THE NEXT ROUND!!!! 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Me: Yeah!!!! Congrats!!! You go girl!!!!
2:37: Arielle: Thanks!!! Just waiting again lol
I breathed. She made it to the next round. Excitedly, I texted my husband at work and told him to let everyone on Facebook know too. All Arielle wanted was to make it past the first round. She knew she was more of an actor than a singer and she just wanted to meet Robert Ulrich. I was elated. Then a girl who auditioned came upstairs and said she was cut after the second round – before meeting Mr. Ulrich. There were three rounds not two!
I waited. I paced. I watched as moms left with their disappointed daughters. I practiced what I’d say if she got cut after the second round. I put in my headphones and listened to LMFAO and Pitbull, my workout music. Two more hours went by and there were only three of us left in the huge room… waiting.
Suddenly, I spotted Arielle from way across the room. She was leaving the building. I jumped up and followed her outside. Where was she going? What was she doing? Was she so devastated that she had to leave the building? I chased after her.
She was glowing. Arielle was looking for me and thought I had left. Okay, I teased her a bit when we were in line and told her I was going shopping while she was auditioning. Of course I didn’t leave.
Arielle told me she made it as far as she could and there was a possibility we would get called to go to Los Angeles the beginning of December. She met and auditioned for Robert Ulrich! Her dream came true. The wind whipped around us. People were scurrying in their cowboy hats and high heels on their way to the Country Music Awards. I stood there in awe. She did it! And to think we almost didn’t go. There we were on the street exhilarated, amazed, and filled with unbelief mixed with thankfulness and joy. She did it. Of course she did it. Arielle never ceases to amaze me.
Arielle showed me the golden letter they handed her and just as I was about to let the world know and share our joy, I read the bottom portion of the letter which stated that the audition process was confidential. If we told we could hurt Arielle’s chance of going to Los Angeles. I panicked. “Call dad, call your dad and tell him to remove everything from Facebook! I’m so sorry I didn’t know it was confidential.” Arielle laughed at me. As usual. She was so high on happiness my little faux pas didn’t faze her.
We made our way back up the hill to the parking garage. That’s when she gave me the scoop on the audition process.
Arielle went into the first room with four other people. The cameras followed them. They had to tell something interesting about themselves and then sing. When everyone was done they waited about thirty seconds and then the casting directors told Arielle and one other person they were moving on and dismissed everyone else.
Arielle was shocked. In her mind she was thinking really?, really, I made it to the next round? Cool. Mission accomplished.
The second round was a little more dramatic. Arielle had to answer questions, sing, and then wait outside the room for people dressed in black to come tell her if she made it to the third round. She watched as others were told they didn’t make it. She waited. Finally, someone came over, smiled and told her the good news. That’s when she knew she’d get to meet him. Yep, all of this was going on while I was upstairs. Oblivious. Actually, I’m glad I wasn’t there. I probably would have freaked out at this point. “Oh my … no way! Don’t be nervous. Don’t be nervous. Don’t be nervous.” Yeah, it wouldn’t have been good. Instead I texted her to eat something to keep her energy up and smile. All from my cushy bench upstairs. Much better.
Now, I know this post is already too long but I have to add this little history because it is Arielle in a nutshell. (By the way, the reason this post is so long is because I know how much trouble I’ll get in if I say… to be continued.) Boy, did I hear about it on Facebook after the last time.
The night before we left for Nashville Arielle allowed me to work with her on her song. When we finished she told me she needed to have two songs prepared for the audition. It was midnight and she still had to pack. I laughed. We listened to her audition song list and chose one for her second song. She sang it and I cringed when she couldn’t hit one of the notes. I’m very honest with my children. She insisted she could hit the note, I insisted she couldn’t without the help of a real singing coach. I told her to learn all the words and make sure she stopped singing before trying to hit the high note. Then I went to bed.
Well, the next day in the hotel room Arielle was too embarrassed to rehearse in the room. She played the piano in the lobby no problem – but singing – no.
Jump back to the audition. She’s outside the door waiting to sing for Robert Ulrich and she hears someone say that Mr. Ulrich wants to hear two songs. Did she ever practice the second song? No. Did she know all the lyrics to the second song? No. Arielle pulls out her phone and looks up the lyrics. Now, up until this point she’s been on camera a lot. Someone came to her and told her not to worry that this last audition for Robert Ulrich won’t be filmed. She relaxed.
They called her into the room just as she heard someone talk about adjusting the boom for different heights. She knew what a boom was and knew she’d be singing on camera again. And there was Robert Ulrich. And he did ask her to sing her second song. And Arielle did it because that’s what my daughter can do. She’s stays calm under pressure and is able to pull things off last-minute. There have been many ten minute study sessions right before a test that have garnered her an A. We’ve had several discussions about effort but I can’t deny the fact that my kid works well under pressure. I have no idea where she gets it from.
Robert Ulrich was very kind to Arielle. He asked her what her biggest obstacle was and she said calculus. Just kidding. When she left the room she was called to another camera and asked how she’d feel if she didn’t get a letter to possibly go to LA. She gave the “I’m just so happy to have gotten this far” speech. Which really was true.Then when she returned to her spot outside the door, they handed her a letter. I am hoping, hoping, hoping they show her reaction on TV when the show airs in June. I really wish I could have seen her face.
We flew home tight-lipped and anxious to see if we would get the call to go to Los Angeles. We waited three and half weeks wondering. Every time someone asked me to sub for their class or drive on a field trip I’d say… I probably can. Maybe. As the time got closer to the December 8th deadline for all calls to LA the tension rose in our house. My husband kept saying, “They’re going to call. They will call – get ready.” After having lived a life of auditioning I knew there would be many factors involved and it could go either way. Then on Dec. 2nd they posted on their Facebook site that all calls were finalized. It was over. We weren’t going to LA. But hopefully when the show airs in June we’ll see her smiling face.
Arielle was disappointed but extremely thankful for the opportunity to meet Mr. Ulrich. I reminded her of the day she came out into the living room and told me about the Glee Project audition. How she said all she wanted to do was meet Robert Ulrich – and she did. I reminded her of her bravery in singing for strangers and keeping positive during an eight-hour audition process. I reminded her that life is about moments and sometimes we label those moments as good or bad but that they are all connected leading to a better understanding of ourselves and our journey.
I reminded her of my love for her and my belief in her ability to inspire others through her sheer determination and her love of life – from the seat of her wheelchair.
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