Last week I got a phone call from a (+33) number (a call from France?! Better pick it up!) and found out I'd been chosen to audition for a French TV show called Music Explorer that was scouting and filming in Louisiana.
I spent the next few days before my audition learning a French cover (Shoutout to my high school French teacher Candace for introducing me to Francis Cabrel's beautiful song "Octobre"!) and working on remembering how to speak French. I was a Music and French double major in college, but it's been a while since I used my French and with languages if you don't use 'em, you lose 'em, so I was super nervous to speak French with real Parisians, let alone to interview in French on camera. I set up a French-speaking coffee date with fellow auditioning songwriting Alexandra Scott for the day before my audition and drove around speaking in French to myself in my car all week like a crazy person, praying that I wouldn't make a fool of myself when showtime came.
Sunday morning, I left early to catch a few hours of Festival International in Lafayette before my audition (my favorite new band I saw: DakhaBrakha from Ukraine!) then drove out to Henderson, LA to Pat's Fisherman's Wharf Restaurant to meet the film crew. After a brief wait while they filmed something up on the levee, they brought me over to the boat launch on the other side where we were to shoot my interview and singer profile and where I would meet Tété, the singer in charge of choosing the competitors from North America, and would sing him my French cover and original song.
The weather was not too hot and the soft afternoon light was gorgeous, highlighting all the different greens of the bayou. The birds were swooping in and out of the trees and singing joyfully (providing me the perfect backdrop for the original song I'd chosen to perform, "Pretty Little Bird"). The lazy water eddying by gave the whole afternoon a very tranquil feel and put me in a good state of mind to just enjoy the moment and stop worrying.
And sure enough, everyone on the film crew was super nice and made me feel at ease, and was very complimentary of my French and my singing. We didn't have to do any re-takes on the interview so I guess whatever words made themselves out of my mouth made enough sense to keep. Tété was very encouraging and personable, and it was easy to connect with him as we sat together on the bottom of an upturned boat as I sang him my songs. He gave me some very kind feedback, remarking on my focus on the words and ability to convey a story as well as my good use of silence interspersed with soaring melodies. We did a few takes of each song to get different camera angles (interrupted every so often by folks coming down in their big pick-up trucks to launch their boats onto the bayou), and as it got dark we wrapped up and said our goodbyes and I headed back to New Orleans.
Unfortunately, I found out last night that I was not picked to participate in the semi-finals, but it was a great experience none-the -less and I'm really happy I applied and followed through with the audition despite my language hesitations. It was fun to learn new a new French song, to remember how to speak French and enjoy speaking it again, and to get to spend a beautiful day filming on the bayou with such personable French folks. Until next time, merci à Tété et à tous les gens de Music Explorer pour m'avoir donné cette chance!
UPDATE: Music Explorer did end up featuring my audition in one of their episodes! You can watch my interview (in French!) and listen to clips from both "Pretty Little Bird" and my cover of Francis Cabrel's "Octobre" here: http://www.musicexplorer.fr/Talent/ruby-ross