NEW ORLEANS — More than 6,000 people scrambled for cover at the X-Factor season three open-call auditions as wild weather hit New Orleans early Sunday morning.
Executive producers of the show, Rob Wade and Andrew Llinares, who had never seen weather conditions like this in the show’s history were afraid no one would show up.
“It’s amazing that we have 6,000 people here today,” said Llinares. “We are incredibly excited to see who we’ll find here in New Orleans.”
Undeterred by hurricane-like conditions, hopefuls traveled from all over the southern states, many arriving as early as 5 a.m., to be the first in line to have their voices heard when auditions were scheduled to start at 7 a.m.
Some hopefuls, eager to stand out, were adorned in vibrant colors from head to toe while others opted for the more low-key look, believing their voices would be enough to get them through to the next round, like 27-year-old Frank Thomas from Tupelo, Miss.
“I’m singing ‘So High’ by John Legend. I sound really good when singing that one and I know all the words,” Thomas said.
Thomas also brought his 25-year-old friend, Josh Adams. Thomas was trying to convince Adams to audition his Barry White-sounding voice.
“I’ve been trying to talk Josh into auditioning because he doesn’t think he can sing, but he can,” Thomas said. “He is the best singer I have ever heard — well not better than me; It’s hard to be better than me, but he’s close.”
Friends from St. Bernard Parish, 16-year-old Caroline Boudreaux and 14-year-old Shelby Christmas, although auditioning separately, both chose country music songs to wow the producers. Both said they believed their other personal traits might also help push them through to the next round.
“I’m singing ‘Temporary Home’ by Carrie Underwood, but everyone has been telling me that my hair will help me stand out,” Boudreaux said, shaking her long, brunette curls around.
Christmas planned on singing “Love Your Baby Girl” by Sugarland, and she was also relying on her vibrant personality to grab the producer’s attention.
“Be loud and be myself, that is what I do best,” said Shelby.
Auditions were expected to go on into the night as producers listened to individuals and groups sing one or two songs that would excite them, and hopefully let them discover the voice of the next “big thing.”
“We want people who feel like superstars. We want individuals,” Wade said. “Anyone who is going to come out and stand in this rain is already an individual, so hopefully we’ll have a good day.”
Although there is no limit to how many people can make it through to the next round of auditions, generally only 100 to 250 people will get through.
One of last year’s hopefuls, Summer Puyrant, 14, of Pittsburgh, Texas, was back again this year for a second shot.
“I auditioned last year and I made it to the third round,” Summer said. “I listened to what the judges had to say. I listened to a bunch of songs and how artists sing, and they told me to find myself, so I think I have done that.”
Every few moments someone in the huddled crowd would break into song, showing off the vast array of styles and genres that the producers were expecting to hear throughout the day.
But most of all, the producers just wanted to be blown away.
“You have to come in and surprise us. Come in and stand out,” Wade said. “It is amazing how many people come in and line up for a few hours and sit around for the day, and then they will walk in and be meek and their voices will be quiet.”
New Orleanian, Jourdan Acker, 21, had three songs prepared and was waiting to see which way her mood swayed to decide which song to audition, but she also had a little something extra that might just be what the producers were after.
“I was thinking about doing a poem that I wrote myself before I start singing, just to mix it up. All just depends on my mood going in,” Acker said.
The people auditioning in New Orleans were not only up against the other 6,000 hopefuls who showed up Sunday, but also all the other hopefuls who will show up at the other four cities around the country who are hosting X-Factor auditions.
The overall winner of X-Factor’s third season will get a recording contract with Sony Music, which is a dream that many people share around the country, however, only one can win.
First though, hopefuls have to make it through the preliminary auditions and then through a four judge panel that Simon Cowell and Demi Lovato will be part of — the other two judges have yet to be announced.
The hopefuls that showed up at the Lakefront Arena had already impressed the producers by braving the weather and now they had to wow them with their performances.
“This is your moment, you have to seize it. This is your stage, come out and blow us away,” Wade said.