“I have been performing my whole life in competitions but nothing like a national level like this,” Add9 director Chris Higgins says.
The fact that both groups have had plenty of experience performing for all types of audiences did not diminish their shock or excitement at this opportunity.
“Jaws dropped,” says Austin Nichols, treasurer of Mizzou Forte. “We all met at the Student Center, and Justin started telling us about the call and who it was from. Slowly people started smiling with excitement.”
Both groups perform a variety of songs, ranging from classical music to today’s pop hits. Nigel Caaro, Senior Producer of America’s Got Talent, contacted the two groups after he found YouTube videos of their performances. He liked the choreography in Add9’s rendition of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” as well as Mizzou Forte’s performance of “Toxic” by Britney Spears. Both groups used this tryout as motivation to work even harder during rehearsals. Practices for the groups are typically around two hours long twice a week.
“We were all really excited that somebody found us, and not so much that we were going to just try out for it, but that they had specifically come and contacted us,” says James Dawson, treasurer of Add9.
Because they were invited to priority auditions, they did not have to wait in any lines. Instead each group was given specific time slots to perform in front of the producers. Add9 chose to sing the last verse of their rendition of “Go the Distance” and the last minute of their “Explosions Medley,” a mix that incorporates Katy Perry’s “Firework,” Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite” and Bruno Mars’ “Grenade.” Mizzou Forte performed a medley of “When You Were Young” by The Killers, “Not Over You” by Gavin DeGraw and “Dog Days Are Over” by Florence and the Machine. They also sang the University of Missouri alma mater.
“We were definitely excited,” Nichols says. “They used the phrase VIP in reference to us, and we got to bypass the hundreds of people standing in line.”
The groups feel pretty confident about their auditions, but the anticipation is not over yet. They will be notified sometime between January to April about whether they will continue onto the show. The groups are keeping hope alive in the meantime as they continue to rehearse and perform.
“If we make it, we will be working up some amazing arrangements,” Nichols says. “If not we keep singing. Hopefully another cool opportunity comes our way. We are going to keep doing what we love to do.”
Add9 and Mizzou Forte perform at several locations and events on campus and throughout the Midwest. The groups were eager to show off their talent to the judges, and students of Mizzou are just as eager to see them succeed.