The audition report

April 25, 2012

The audition


My mother woke me up. I had been in a slumber close to a coma. The cat woke me in the middle of the night, she was playing with a mini felt mouse, and I decided to just let her be and put ear plugs in. So I disappeared between the very many blankets that had been gotten for me.

I was emerging from dreams in a fantastical world where we were trying to figure out thing, escaping, long medieval dresses, horses… Oh, yeah the audition.


I took quite a bit of time, I like doing that as a diversion to stress, I leisurely get closer to the target time, kind of pretending that nothing special is going on, all the while systematically getting each detail attended to and ready. I warmed up my hands and they were stiff, I washed my hair, put on my war paint, uh.. make up, got dressed, had breakfast, coffee, chatted with mom, then played some more guitar until almost 1 PM. Then I got geared up, helmet, gloves and jacket and headed out to Montreal to the CBC building. I got there really quickly. Sundays are sleepy in Montreal, as if the whole city cures a massive hangover, every Sunday without fault. There were a few cyclists, some hard core health nuts by the looks of them, zooming by on the bike lane but not much else.

As I dismounted I wanted to take a photo of the bike, as a reminder of this moment. I was doing that when I heard a voice from behind me say : “ Would you like me to take a picture of you?”


I turned around and there was a woman I had seen walking on the sidewalk a few moments earlier as I was getting there. Usually I say no, I’m not crazy about having my picture taken, but this time I did. I handed her my phone and showed her how to operate it.


“Just press this icon on the glass” I said.

“on the glass?” Yes right there.


I stood in front of the bike my stuff laying around it. Click. Done.

“So you ride this?”


“Yes I do.” I answered.


She was beautiful, at least her late forties, her hair was white, she wore a colorful but tasteful coat, she exuded gentleness, kindness. Her face was open, her bright eyes like the sparkles in a waterfall.

“I used to ride a Suzuki 250… that was a lifetime ago…”


“Oh I used to have an old Suzuki, loved it. It took me everywhere…


“What is that?” she asked.


“Oh it’s my guitar, a travel guitar, I’m going for an audition, here at Radio-Canada, I wanted to capture the moment with a photo. What is your name?” I asked.
“Marie, what is yours?”




She looked deeply in my eyes and said : “ It will go great. You will do great.” She came closer and hugged me.


It was so pure. Beautiful. Impossibly real.


“Thank you.” I said.

Marie's photo


She handed me the phone, said something about not wanting to make me late and she walked away as I was pulling the guitar over my shoulder.


those are the gifts of life. Those are what I live for. I was blown away. I felt I had been touched by an angel.


I felt charged with an otherworldly purpose.


I walked towards the building, It is a huge tower. A place where so much cultural history, for French Canadians, has been created, has filled airwaves and has shaped the people of this province.


the big tower


I got to the door, well, the doors. There were many and they were all locked. I backed up one step and saw and intercom. I pressed the button as another lady was getting close. The door opened slowly, almost with reverence.


“Oh just like magic!” I said as we entered the building. The lady laughed a sweet laugh. I looked around, saw the reception and approached.


“I’m here for Petite Vallee.”


“Your name?”


“Danielle Hebert”


She explained how to go down the escalator, turn left at the bright lights, follow the studio numbers.. You are going to studio 14.


the lobby

I engraved that in my gray matter.


“Can I get a bottle of water around here?” My mouth was drying up at an alarming rate.

“Yes, go left, then turn right, the cafeteria is right there.”


So I went got some water, turned around, went to the studio, I was early, so I got time to warm up in the washroom, voice, guitar. My voice is pretty good. I wish I could be a bit more relaxed. I wish I did not have to have two sleepless nights Thursday and Friday night, I wished I could have done just a little bit more on Friday, but Friday was the 13th and things went to hell and back that day. So one has to make the best with what is.


one of the beautiful features inside a lit up wall decoration

I did some vocalises and started on a song, then it happened, my voice opened up on the high notes. That was a good sign. My voice is a strange entity.

warm up space, an ante-chamber to the washroom

It has surprised me many, many times. Once, I was so sick I could barely talk, went on stage and a giant sound came out of my throat. That was an impossibility but it was… The voice is the mirror of the soul, it does not lie. My fingers were not as nimble as I wished… two minutes to 2. Time to go to the studio.


follow the sign

I got there, a really nice woman was there, Alika, probably the wrong spelling… she had me fill up the forms for the judges. We chatted a bit while I was getting ready.


Finally it was time to go in. I met with the sound technician. I saw that there was amplifiers, piano, microphone… I assumed it would be a dry audition…

“oh, I could have brought some toys…” I said. I had debated bringing musicians, pedals, produce the presentation a bit more, then on someone’s advice, I went solo.


I warmed up, the room sounded absolutely great. How I miss that. A great sounding room. Not the din that one finds at open mics and such places.


The judges walked in. They were nice, warm. I started. I started with a very solid song. I did what I have to do : hold back, use the dynamics, let the voice feel welcome and grow in confidence. It worked but for some micro moments when I could feel my tension. More than I would have wanted, but I smiled, enjoyed the process, started to actually play.


My main mistake, and it came to haunt me, was to forget to grab a pick of the second song. I needed the pick to create the dynamics, instead I fumbled over a chord, and could not do what I wanted on the guitar. Vocally it was there though.


After I was done, the judges deliberate and then you go meet with them. I came in and in the air was a yin and yang vibe.

On my right, the one judge loved it. He was extremely complimentary on my voice.


On my left, he said, it took me quite a while to get into it… It is your music, it’s as if I had to imagine what was in your head in order to understand your music. The judge on the right then added : “I was ahead of the game, I had listened to your arrangements… you have very rich arrangements…

I knew exactly what they meant. I sound better with a band. I write in multi-tracking parts in my mind, I hear them, others, not necessarily. My recordings are the sum of those parts. I don’t really do the chugga-chugga three chord songs… It gets dense, complex and at times it’s brilliant and other times it works against me. “On the one song I did not get your chorus at all..” I totally knew which one he meant. That was the one with the pick missing… That one had been designed to be played with someone else… I had considered getting people to play with me… then changed my mind. I was going to use the looper pedal and make rhythm tracks to create the 3 dimensionality, then I thought there wasn’t going to be any equipment there and decided to go for the bare approach. I made the wrong choices.

They asked me to play another song. I did. I went for it all the while wondering if I picked the right one. The left side judge said he was going to listen to my recordings, to see what it was that I was trying to do. Then it was time to go.


I left. Exited the building. Clouds had covered the sky, the city looked empty, too quiet. I wondered if I failed or not. 50/50. That is not victory. I climbed on the bike and left. At least I have this. On the way back I reflected on the music industry-scene. They now have songwriters school… people go to school and come out with diplomas. It’s a formula thing. You do this, then add that, stir a bit and hopefully you got the “whole package” (charisma, a pretty face, and some quirkiness to differentiate yourself from the pack)


I do my “artist thing” and fail the industry standards…


So I’m either brilliant or they don’t get me. But I did my best despite life’s push and shove and throw me off of my game on the few days just before the audition. They will tell us next week. Honestly, My feeling is that I did not nail it. One feels those things. It’s written in the sky, in the threads of the fabric of the universe. I do perfectly understand why. My talent or skills never in question, just my wild ways and a few things that put you behind. The few percentage points that make winners win and losers lose. So close yet so far.

I arrived at mom’s home, changed, removed the make up, ate a sandwich, hugged her very close and headed out. Clouds were thickening, the rain was in the air it was going to be a bit of a storm cloud race. Hopefully I won’t get soaked.


But my day had pure magic. Marie was magic, some notes I sang were magical and the sound was perfect and that was quite a gift.

My future is uncertain. I may find myself on the road or somewhere else very soon… After the high of getting ready for this and the nerves that have carried me since yesterday I am gradually sinking as the muscles and the tension releases.

Happens what must.






4 Responses to “The audition report”

  1. David Walker Says:

    Hang on to the magic of Marie. How lovely.

  2. Forrest Says:

    Music industry or not, YOU are a true musical soulmate, Danielle! Over the past number of years, I almost had my Joy demolished by this industry. By the grace of God, I have been blessed to realize and discover that my Love and Joy for my musical Gift has never left me. One of the things that has kept me encouraged is knowing and looking forward to the fact that you are out there and that we WILL make music together again when it is time. SOON, I hope! These past several years have been hard. But knowing who I am – regardless of the music industry – and remembering where my Blessings and Gifts come from has made all the difference in regaining my focus and mission. This “formulaic” songwriting thing is a major part of what has KILLED the music industry. THERE IS NO MUSIC INDUSTRY. There are still people in the world who love music. MANY people! And they know absolutely NOTHING about the existence of a music industry. Nor do they care! It’s beautiful! So are YOU. So is your music. So is your Spirit!

    Forrest “SERAPHIM”

  3. bobskoot Says:


    if it was meant to be, it will . . .

    Hopefully they will see you are talented beyond belief. You are the true artist. good luck

    Riding the Wet Coast
    My Flickr // My YouTube

  4. circleblue Says:

    I love the description of Marie. I think she was the most real thing that happened to you this day.

    Thanks for taking me along with you on an adventure I suspect I will never have.

    I hope you will keep listening to the music in your head. That sounds very real, too.
    Circle Blue

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