Performers with different talents, musical styles and amounts of training put on a show Saturday in Arlington Heights with a common aim: Make it out of auditions to the second year of the Suburban Chicago's Got Talent competition.
Singing songs they wrote with their husband or mother or tunes by their favorite well-known artists, those who auditioned Saturday had high hopes of becoming one of 30 chosen for the official competition.
As an art festival bustled in downtown Arlington Heights outside the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, hopeful contestants reviewed vocal lessons, checked their phones and held hushed conversations before their moment in the spotlight.
Promoting their self-released CD "Moodswings," Sean and Karen Slavin of Woodstock said auditioning for the talent contest is one way they're working to build name recognition for their band, Sean & Karen.
"You've got to do this stuff to let people know who you are," said Sean, who wrote the song "Holding Out for Change" that he and his wife played for a panel of three judges.
"It's about being aware and hoping things get better," he said about the tune.
Shortly before the Slavins filled the theater with Karen's voice and Sean's guitar work, Carol Lukas of Huntley played keyboard as she sang an original piece written for her late mother.
"She always wanted me to do something with my singing, so I wrote this song for her," Lukas said about the piece called "You're an Angel."
"I just wrote it a couple days ago. I've never taken any lessons or anything. I play by ear."
Judge Charlie Beck, executive director of the Metropolis, said he was "astonished" at Lukas' musical ability considering she has no formal training.
"I have no doubt that your mom enjoyed the performance," Beck said.
Judges gave feedback to Lukas and all who auditioned Saturday on the third and final day of tryouts for the competition, sharing advice on topics such as how to choose a song, body language while performing and even what to wear to convey the right attitude.
Performers will need to prepare four to six songs or acts if they aim to win the competition and earn an expenses-paid trip to the 2014 audition for the NBC show "America's Got Talent."
The 30 competitors chosen will next perform in a preliminary round, held in two shifts at the Metropolis featuring 15 performers at 7 p.m. Sunday, June 23, and at 7 p.m. Sunday, July 7. The competition then will be whittled to the top 15 performing July 21 and the top 10 competing Aug. 4.
Getting to try out for the national talent show would be a major opportunity for 11-year-old Varun Jagannath of Buffalo Grove, said his father Jagannath Bobji But even hearing feedback from Metropolis judges was helpful for Varun, an incoming seventh grader who sings in a school chorus and auditioned Saturday with "When I was your Man" by Bruno Mars .
"It's a good chance for him to show his talent," Varun's father said.