Kaia auditions

April 23, 2010

One of the things keeping me busy in the last couple weeks were the auditions we held for Kaia. Sweet Lorraine is going to be leaving us — I think this is our third sistah we’ve lost because her inability to find a good-paying job in the Bloomington area — so frustrating!

Anyhoo, we held auditions over at the BPP. Jane was my “helper” this time but we only had a handful of people show up so she was able to devote her time to listening.

I’ve developed a standard regime for auditions—the person sings their solo so we get a sense of their voice, style, and emotional range, as well as stage presence. I then teach them a simple round and we run that for about five minutes so they have an opportunity to really sink into a groove. Then we sing a little ditty about a prostitute. It’s true. I have BryBry to thank for it:

See the lady in red
She makes her livin’ in the bed (2x)
{Call-and-response scat}

Then you swap out different colors and make the lines rhyme—so like if she’s wearing green, “she likes it kinda mean.” Or what have you. Regardless, my POINT is that it’s a call-and-response kind of song with a little bit of funk. So we get to evaluate the funk quotient, ability to respond, and ability to clap and sing at the same time.

We sometimes also do the boring stuff like scales to see what kind of range the person has. This time around we needed someone with a solid low D. A low B would be even better, but we take what we can get!

We had a couple candidates from the first cut audition, but since range was so critical, we had Auditions 1.5 live from my living room. More scales (whee!), more of their solo singing but with the song in different keys, more playing around to get a better sense of the voice as well as personality. All of this (except personality, of course) is recorded on my faboo, much-worn Olympus DM-10 digital recorder so I can share the recordings with Jane.

Once past 1.5, the remaining lassies come to Auditions 2.0, which is an audition with all of Kaia. It’s an opportunity to sing together but even more so an opportunity to get a sense of group fit. I have this hyper-structured regimen I put everyone through so each person has the opportunity to stand next to the auditionees at one point or another. Sometimes I use an Excel spreadsheet to set it up. It’s nutty.

At the end of all that, we ask the singers if they’re still interested in joining. Then they leave and the Sistah-hood gets down to a nitty-gritty discussion of the candidates. What always happens is we end up talking about our vision of the group and (eventually) how these new people may or may not fit that vision. It’s a necessary conversation and boy, does it take a chunk of time.

With this go-round we were lucky to find Leslie Scott, our newest Kaiasistah. Her vocal timbre is startling similar to Tristra’s, so watch out for a renewed power in the middle register of our pieces.

She has a very steep learning curve ahead of her—we just threw 3 songs at her on Sunday and will have more this coming Sunday. We’ll review the stuff we’ve given her but we’re going to follow a very aggressive schedule of new material to try to get her/us up to speed for our June gig in Third Street Park. We need 90 minutes of material—which is a lot of music, considering most of our songs are about 2.5 minutes!

This all sounds very left-brain to me, and maybe it is. It’s not thrilling reading but I wanted to post something and this is top-of-mind. I can’t believe we’re going to lose Lorraine—she is irreplaceable. But I look forward to hearing what Leslie brings to the group and how we’ll change based on her talents and skills. A new Kaia, waiting to be born.