Sean Sayers

Even getting past the first round of auditions for Canadian Idol is a feather in any performer’s cap. So considering the several thousand that try out, and to make it all the way to Toronto for the show’s tapings and making the top 100 is definitely the highlight of Sean Sayers’ budding career.

The Cold Lake, AB area native fronts Angels to Ashes, one of Cold Lake’s most promising groups, and commented the journey to get as far as he did was anything but easy. It all started at a party in February of ’07, on a spur of the moment at the urging of friends, telling him he was as talented as anyone they’d seen on the show previously. “I jumped in my car and drove to Calgary for the auditions the next day, where I got the pleasure of waiting in line for 14 or 15 hours,” he joked. The two-day initial audition was actually broken into three parts where he had to perform five songs, an experience he said that tested his perseverance, if nothing else. If you’re good enough to get through the Casting Director, you then audition in front of the show’s actual judges.

“It brings out a lot of tears in some people. There’s a lot of people that get really ‘nervey,’ it’s hard to say the least,” he said, noting the casting director and other initial judges are often less than pleasant. “It tells you something about the people that make it all the way to Toronto.” This is the first year contestants are allowed to play their own instruments. Considering himself to be a pretty good guitarist, Sayers thought it would be one of his advantages, but he was in for a rude awakening.

“(A judge) told me my playing was stinky, and told me to put the guitar down. That threw me off, to say the least. I thought I was a fairly decent guitar player, and I wasn’t ready to just sing a cappella.” A week later he was in Saskatoon for the second phase of auditioning, which he had to beg, borrow and pawn to get to. Getting through that, he was off to Toronto for three days of gruelling auditions earlier this month. “That was the most grueling, painful thing I’ve ever experienced in my life,” he retorted, noting part of the process was to be paired up with other contestants. So in effect, your fate could lie in your partner’s hands. If he or she bombs, you could also suffer the consequences.

“There were 192 people that made it that far, and the first round (in Toronto) they got rid of about 70. The second round they got rid of about 40 more. And then the third round, the round I was eliminated they cut another 23,” he explained. “The next round they got rid of the rest, down to 22, and those people went on.” He finished somewhere between 40 and 72, although the judges don’t give exact placements. But Sayers commented he gave it his all, and was proud of what he’d accomplished.

He added it was a learning experience and he witnessed the good, the bad and the ugly aspects of ‘show biz.’ “It’s a cutthroat business, for sure … And it was the hardest, but most rewarding experience of my life.” One of Sayers’ endearing qualities throughout the competition was undoubtedly his versatility, showcased when he covered material spanning everyone from Creed and The Guess Who to Lead Belly and Tracy Chapman.

But it was after the competitions had ended and he’d been told to go home that he got the real opportunity of a lifetime. ay Manzarek, leader of The Doors’ legacy, happened to be outside a venue where “Riders On The Storm,” the modern touring version of the band, had just played. The band often features different lead singers, so Sayers figured he had nothing to lose and approached him. “He said, ‘Show me what you’ve got kid,’ so I did a couple lines of a song, then gave him my demo. That was just too cool, topped off the whole experience.” Jim Morrison, a true rock poet has always been one of his ultimate idols, and he continued, “I’m a poet, too. And I can only hope for my ultimate dream of playing his music for a living come true. We’ll have to wait and see.”