....and onto the next round! By the skin of my teeth, thanks to the judges and to the audience votes, I was one of the 6 successful singers put through to the AREA FINAL of OPEN MIC UK, which will bring together regional finalists from the whole of the North of England and Scotland..
So this is how it went: I got to ye olde RNCM, Manchester in the afternoon, did the old registering thing and handed in my press releases. Then we had to wait an hour to soundcheck. At soundcheck time everyone sat in the auditorium and patiently watched each act soundchecking, secretly hoping for the next one to be rubbish. Irritatingly they were all good, all the ones I saw at least- I had to keep running out for a wee, having drunk a medicinal 7 pints of water in the interests of throat lubrication. At soundcheck my defeat looked inevitable. The female vocalists in particular, had power, perfect pitch, more acrobatic tricks than the Chinese State Circus. I was getting nervous. And a bit disillusioned....
Soundcheck was finally over and there was time to zip myself into the highlighter green dress which my Mum had told me I should wear (I was up for schlepping about in my leggings). As I flew through to the toilets (glamorous changing room) I spotted some friends, family and fans to whom I managed to give a quick hello and profuse thanks for materialising in the lobby. Then it was backstage for more waiting, the main activity of a musician. Casting a glance in the mirror I was quite relieved to remember that the day previous, having used a wash-in 'gold infuser' on my hair, I had been sporting a fluorescent olive shade which seemed to be one of several things conspiring against my success in the competition. Luckily my friend Steph spent her entire Saturday removing said radioactive green from my tresses, trawling the hairdressers of the town for advice and eventually, with help from a lilac rinse, my hair looked relatively normal. Backstage there were 2 dressing rooms between 26 contestants and the noise of next door's was deafening. Two boys were rehearsing their song so loudly, that one girl seemed to be pinned to the wall by the G-Force. So many personalities, so many styles of music being rehearsed. I went into the shower block and sang at the tiles. Talk about stress. Clipboards everywhere, girls with big curls, big voices and backing tracks, a leather clad rapper, rapping about cheese, harmonising twins, an opera singer with a penchant for Stella, loud Stokey strummers, compulsive water drinking.... a seriously overwhelming concoction...
One by one they filtered out. It was like the holding bay for the abattoir. My turn eventually came to stand in the wings, tell the compere my name and a plug to be announced. My sister, dressed in a sequinned top, waved excitedly at me. A minor celeb from X Factor had reputedly sprayed a lot of aerosol just previously and I felt the combination of CFC's, nerves and the tight dress which was now accommodating a heavy heart beat as well as a stomach full of bottled water created a noticeable breathing restriction. I was plugged into the mobile battery pack and walked over to the mic, which was adjusted to my mouth, a foot lower than most of the other singers'. I sang my song. The notes came out. I didn't fall over. I put some dynamics in. The judges wrote their notes. The audience clapped. I left the stage. Over in a flash... They all said that. I had seen some seriously good acts perform on the stage and really doubted I was going through. There was a standing ovation for the opera singer.
After that everyone was pretty relaxed backstage. A nice bunch of people, apart from the one guy with the unpronouncable name who was dressed as terminator and stared angrily from a recess in the wall. Pretty much everyone was nice, friendly and very talented. I didn't mind I wasn't going through. I was a really different kind of singer so I decided I should probably go more alternative still with my competition choices.
A while later, we were herded to the side of the stage to await our fate. 4 singers would go through and the next four names announced were competing for just 2 remaining places and their success would depend on the audience vote. The 4 names were announced. The singers walked out and stood in the lights, blinking out blindly into the dark sea of supposed audience. (They were there, we just couldn't see them.) Then the names of the 4 others who would be subject to the suspense of audience vote.... The announcer: 'Bla Blaaa' -steps out onto the stage *applause* 'Blaadee Blaa' — steps out onto the stage; *applause*, 'Blaadee Blaaderson' — I smile benignly- someone pokes me — 'That's you, they said Heidi Browne' 'Heidi Browne' they say ; oh! steps out onto the stage *applause* 'Bla Blaaa and the Blaas' -step out onto the stage *applause*. EEEEK.
'And the fifth act to go through to the Area Final is..... Bla blaaa'. *applause*
Yeh ok so I haven't got through. Let me at the hummus, I haven't had any tea and it's 10pm.
'And the FINAL act to go through to the Area Final of OPEN MIC UK is..........'
Heidi Browne. So, looks like I'm doing it all over again with even BETTER standard of talent.... IF YOU WANT TO COME AND WATCH ME SOIL MYSELF: It is: December 1st, Dewsbury Town Hall, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, 7.45PM