Increasingly, it seems to be every young person’s dream to become America’s next top something or other.
For singers, dancers, actors, models, fashion designers or hairstylists, “reality television” has —of late— turned the age-old process of auditioning for a role, job or gig into an even more stylized version of the cutthroat competition it’s always been.
Roger Moss knows all about this type of competition. As an award-winning, classically-trained vocalist and thespian, he has had his fair share of critical and public acclaim both in the Savannah area and elsewhere, and yet despite the fact that many around these parts know his expressive face, booming and eloquent voice (and name), he still finds himself regularly asked to read for theatrical parts and sing for musical directors in the hopes of snagging a coveted role or vocal job.
“It’s funny,” says Moss. “I just had an audition in Hilton Head a week ago. You’re not gonna believe this, but the Hilton head Art Center is doing The Full Monty! I was shocked (laughs).”
So, how did he fare under the scrutiny?
“I won’t know for a few weeks, but it seemed to go extremely well. They’re an Equity house, so they’re holding additional casting calls in New York this week.”
Regardless of whether or not he nabs this particular role, Moss’ years of professional work in the performing arts (among other pursuits, he fronts his own cabaret jazz combo and directs the Savannah Children’s Choir) have led him ever so slowly into another part of show biz.
Moss has become a go-to guy in this part of the country for private coaching and personalized instruction on how to prepare for the audition process. It’s something he fell into, but increasingly —thanks to a fairly impressive track record— it’s taking up more of his time. Plus, with two open calls for American Idol contestants coming up in the next few weeks within a few hours’ drive of Savannah, Moss is finding that more aspiring talent than ever before is curious about how to give themselves an edge over the others in line.
“About three years ago, Chelsea came to me in advance of trying out for Making the Band with P. Diddy, or whatever his name is now (laughs). She got on the show and did pretty well! My name got passed around in certain circles, and eventually I worked with Stephanie Edwards in preparation for American Idol auditions, and we all know how that turned out. When I heard there would be two calls so close by, I wanted to make sure Savannah would be well represented (laughs)!”
Moss says his sessions are uniquely tailored to fit each specific individual, and that he’ss been encouraged by the progress that many of his students have made.
“If you had seen some of these people before, to see them after... I have a 21-year-old guy who has an amazing old-school soul voice. He sounds just like Donny Hathaway. He lives in Atlanta and flies in to work with me. I also work with kids to help them get ready for school play auditions. In fact, one girl I’ve been working with since she was a freshman has gotten the lead in every show she’s been up for! It’s because she knows how to properly audition. It’s all about proper preparation.”
“I’m not like a lot of other vocal teachers. I’m not gonna push classical music on them if they aren’t interested. I’ll help them to learn how to protect their voice, get the most out of it, and how to ‘sell’ a song.”
However, even if you have no interest in being America’s Next Top Anything, Moss says you may still benefit from his help.
“I primarily work with young people, but I have had some older kids and adults who want to work on their acting or presentation. A lot of the same techniques apply to public speaking as well.”
With these two major Idol calls coming up soon (the 14th of this month in Atlanta and the 18th in Charleston), Moss encourages anyone interested in prepping themselves to get started right away.
But have no fear that this enthusiastic instructor will string you along if he thinks you don’t have the potential to do well.
“We’ll do an introductory session, and a lot of it depends on whether they want to be a singer or a star. I make no judgement on either, and they’re not mutually exclusive. If you wanna be a star, I can help. If you wanna be a singer, I can definitely help — but let’s be honest with each other.”
There is however one piece of advice that Moss will offer for free to anyone: “Be yourself. Don’t try to be Beyoncé or Usher. Find your own voice.”
For more information on Roger Moss’ private audition tutoring, e-mail: Roger2sing@yahoo.com or call 667-1700.