With all of the big things going on in Nashville, these days, production crews, camera cranes, and boom mics may not seem so out-of-the ordinary. But, there's not much 'ordinary' about some of the acts we saw at the Music City Convention Center, last week, and that is just what America's Got Talent came looking for.
If you have seen AGT, you know variety is key to the show's success and, boy, did producers find it a stone's throw from the state capitol. They saw singers, dancers, the undead (members of the rock band 'Here Come the Mummies' were there), and among the hundreds in the hallways and the holding rooms, they even found Elvis and lots and lots of guitars. It is the Music City, after all.
We found the place chocked full of talent from the Tennessee Valley. Chris Painter took a break from regular life in Chattanooga, brought his son and his six-string, and he was ready to give it a go. We asked him why. "Just wanted to," he said with a smile. "It's kind of a life-long dream. Finally got the opportunity in my life to pursue it, so here I am."
He plays it all: country, blues, rock and roll. For us he crooned a few strains of Stand By Me. "I basically want to find out if my friends have been lying to me all these years and telling me I'm better than what I am," he added. "So, I basically want to find out for myself."
Some folks, though, are on a mission. Take Cleveland's Misty Burcham. She is a singer and a mom of seven. "I'm doing it so that people can feel what I feel," she explained, "in the lyrics, in the music, in the breathing, in the notes, in the chords."
After making it through an initial sorting process, all in front of the lights and on cameras, they each got 90 seconds in front of the judges. No, not Howard, Howie, Heidi, and Mel B. They are not involved until later. Still, though, it was nerve-wracking and exciting. "It's really exciting and then, we're kind of used to it, but then, it's a way different experience," said Kira Stander. She and sister Crystal are pros from Cleveland. They sing, they dance, they gave us a little taste of their Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy routine.
The sisters seemed ready, no matter what the judges said. Sometimes the criticism on the show can be a little harsh. No worries, these ladies can handle it. "Yes, they can be nasty," admitted Crystal, "but most of the time it's good. You need to know what you're doing wrong."
If the goal in a crowd like this is to stand out, there was certainly one act that did. And all we talked to seemed to agree. They each pointed us to Cindy Oliver from Cleveland. Correction: they pointed us to Cindy Oliver and her multicolored dogs. "That's what they ask, 'what's the craziest thing" she said? "I was like, well, I mean, you're looking at it!"
Cindy she sings bluegrass- and gospel in the group Heartstrings but, that was not why she was here. She introduced us to her pets and her daughter. "This is Paisley, Sunny, this is Sassy, and my daughter," she said, "and we're here to represent creative grooming."
While they were certainly a hit, Cindy explained creative grooming is a 20 to 30 hour process. "Well, you can't do this in 90 seconds," she said, "so, it's sort of just runway show them what the artwork that I do."
Who made it? Who didn't? We will not know for a while. Here is hoping, though, on this day dreams were fulfilled, new friendships were forged, and no matter the talent they 'got'...they are all gonna, in the words of the Stevie Wonder song one guitar player was leading on line, "keep on trying, `til wtilleach the higher ground."
If you are a fan of America's Got Talent, you know they are competing for $1,000,000 and their own show on the Las Vegas Strip. Our camera was not allowed in those 90 second auditions, but we're told our local folks should find out if they made the first cut in January.