Tag: singing competition tips

Where Are They Now? Winner of Season 2 James Downham

Season 2 winner James Downham has been one of The Shot’s most vocal and active ambassadors since taking home the trophy back in March 2015.  Since his winning performance of Tim McGaw’s “Live Like You Were Dyin'”, James has started a band, been writing and recording new music and has called The Shot the breath of air that brought new life into his passion for music.  Here’s what James had to say about his experience on The Shot and where he’s been and what he’s been doing since the big win:

What was your favourite part of The Shot?  What did you take from doing it?  How did The Shot help you grow as an artist?

 I think the best thing that I got out of participating in The Shot was becoming part of a community of people who are supportive of each other, who have a sincere desire to see others succeed, and cheer them on as they move forward.

The Shot was a true catalyst for my music career. It gave me the confidence boost I needed to do something I’d been yearning to do for a long time. Truthfully, there was nothing stopping me but myself and my own self-doubt. But joining a community of wonderful singers, artists, and fantastic supports from the community, and seeing others who were pursuing the same path, helped to remove the fear and the doubt.

How was The Shot different from any of your other experiences with performing or doing other competitions?

 I’d never participated in a competition like The Shot before. I honestly expected it to be very different. I thought it would be more competitive – as in, each participant looking out only for themselves, and looking to win. That’s not at all what I experienced.  I think the difference was the coaching and mentoring aspect, and spending time with the other participants. The whole event was framed as a development opportunity (perhaps as much self-development as artist development). Regardless of the outcome, anyone who wanted to learn and grow as a person and as an artist had the opportunity to do so, and to make some friends for life.

What advice would you give someone who is thinking about auditioning for Season 6?

 Do it. Only good things can come out of it. Be prepared to work hard – during and after Season 6. The opportunity is whatever you make of it.

What have you been doing since The Shot?

 Wow! I’ve now put together 2 bands (The James Downham Band and my newest project, the Durham County Band). I’ve released 3 songs to radio across Canada (2016’s “Don’t Talk To Girls” and current James Downham release “Fly Away”; current Durham County Band release “Valentine’s Day”); I’ve been gigging, recording, and having fun! Durham County Band’s album will be coming out summer 2018 and I’m really excited about it!

 Where can people find you or hear your music online?

 Search for artists James Downham and Durham County Band in all the usual places… iTunes, Amazon Music, Google Music, Spotify, YouTube, SoundCloud, and all the rest! www.jamesdownham.com and www.durhamcountyband.com

In-Person Audition Tips from Judge C.J. Allen

Singing auditions, especially in front of judges who are critiquing your performance, can be a harrowing and nerve wracking experience.  Despite the butterflies and uncertainties, The Shot tries to make auditions as much of a pleasant opportunity for contestants by promising constructive criticism and feedback no matter what the result.  For those preparing for their audition or perhaps for those still thinking about auditioning for Season 6, coach and judge C.J. Allen – the veteran judge on the panel – offers these tidbits of advice and things to keep in mind as a contestant is on their way into the audition room:

  1. Be prepared!  This point would seem incredibly obvious but make sure you understand what’s expected of you: read the rules and know the process, have two songs picked and rehearsed, show up early and be prepared to sing straight away.
  2. Know the show.  There’s no excuse for not being familiar with the show you’re auditioning for.  Know that if you pass your audition, you’re expected to come to the Callbacks the next day.  Know that if you pass the Callbacks, you’re expected to come to Boot Camp the following weekend.  Research the coaches: understand their strengths, skills and if asked, who you’d like to work with as your mentor.
  3. Always give yourself plenty of time to learn your songs.  Rehearse in front of friends or family and ask for their feedback.  Record yourself rehearsing and watch it back.  You can learn an awful lot about yourself as an artist and as a performer from just watching a recording of yourself performing.  Not everyone likes to watch themselves but trust me, it’s an amazing tool to help you grow!  Don’t come into your audition and act is if you’re surprised that you’re being asked to sing.  You should have picked your songs and have practiced them long in advance so choosing, or acting as if you’re choosing, the song on the spot is a big no, no.  You should rehearse your songs until you can sing them in your sleep.
  4. When you’re up there and performing, whether it be in an audition or sometime further along in the process, if you make a mistake while singing … do not stop!  Just keep going!  Don’t let your body language or face reveal the fact that you’ve made a mistake.
  5. Come in to the audition room with confidence!  First impressions are key.  Be confident even if you’re terrified.
  6. Don’t apologize for your singing or performance!  Not for any reason.  Make no excuses.  Always be professional.
  7. Dress for an audition in a smart/casual but professional way that shows who you are.  An audition is like a job interview.  That doesn’t mean going to the extreme of wearing a three piece suit or evening dress (unless that’s part of who you are as a performer) but also don’t come in in a hoodie with the hood up over your head and hat covering your face.  We want to see unique but we’re also looking for someone who is going to represent The Shot and us judges.  If you want to see and hear more about dressing in a way that represents who you are as an artist, watch David Boyd Jane’s audition video.  We gave him a hard time about his cowboy hat.  That said, you can also watch David’s audition if you’re looking for a great example of #5 in this list.
  8. Be friendly but don’t be overly talkative.  Smile and be personable.
  9. Move!  Don’t feel as though because the mic is on the mic stand or because the mic stand is in a certain place on the stage that you can’t take the mic off, move the stand out of the way and make use of the space.
  10. This may also seem obvious, but when you are coming in to audition, know that we are looking for something particular.  While we don’t make it clear what exact type of voice it is that we’re looking for (oftentimes because you may not know until we hear it), you may be told that you are phenomenal but still not “right” for the show.  As you prepare yourself for your auditions, make sure you remember how amazing you are.  The fact that you’d put yourself out there to be “judged” is huge!  Be proud of yourself for doing that and remember that you are the only thing standing between you and your dreams.  You have it within you to be great, so let’s see it!

C.J. Allen is the President and Managing Director of Music & Artist Development Experience (MADE) and is a former manager, tour manager and concert promoter.

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