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He has always loved to sing. And his mom is one of his biggest fans.
She has encouraged him in his high school singing contests and celebrated when he was selected for Young Americans in December.
His mom is also a huge fan of “The Voice,” a singing competition TV show that airs on NBC.
“She always sees Young Americans go on there,” Cade Wilkinson, 18, said. “My mom was like, ‘You should try out.’”
So last weekend he did.
Wilkinson, the son of Justin and Carla Wilkinson of Tilden, traveled to Chicago with his family and auditioned for “The Voice” on Saturday.
“What do I have to lose?” he thought.
Wilkinson said he registered for the competition online under NBC’s “The Voice” website and printed out his artist audition pass.
It was all set. Saturday at 2 p.m. he would be waiting for his chance to sing in front of a producer in Chicago’s Festival Hall at Navy Pier.
Wilkinson said contestants were instructed to prepare two songs in case producers wanted to hear more before advancing them.
The 2019 Neligh-Oakdale knew just what he wanted to sing for his first song.
“I chose ‘You Raise Me Up’ because, personally, I have a connection to the song because of (Nate) Metschke,” he said. “He always told me, ‘Your voice is going to get you somewhere.’ I also think the song highlights my voice pretty well.”
His second choice was “Then” by Brad Paisley.
Wilkinson said it was a little bit intimidating when he was one of thousands to show up for the afternoon audition.
“Just in my group alone there were like 2,000 people and there was a morning group at 7 a.m.,” he said.
Wilkinson said there were long lines as he waited his turn and his parents weren’t allowed to wait with him.
“Luckily, I actually made a friend while I was waiting in line,” he said.
About 3 p.m., Wilkinson’s group of 10 artists was called and led to an audition room.
“You sit in an arc of 10 chairs and they just made their way around, one would go and then the next for about 45 seconds to a minute,” he said.
Wilkinson sang in front one producer, nine other artists and some parents of contestants who were under the age of 18. After singing the first verse and chorus, the producer told him some good — and bad — news.
“The guy told me, ‘You’re singing is there,’” he said. “But producers of these shows don’t want a bunch of the same people, so they look at what type of an artist you are and what you sing. For production purposes, they are looking for a diversified group of people.”
Unfortunately, Wilkinson was told he wasn’t the type of artist they wanted for this season.
“I was a little disappointed because I didn’t make it as far as I wanted, but he didn’t say anything bad about my singing,” he said. “I’m not going to stop because one person says I didn’t fit the right description.”
Wilkinson said he may try out again. If not for “The Voice,” maybe for another show like “America’s Got Talent” or “American Idol.”
“From here on out, I’ll probably promote my singing by social media using hashtags,” he said. “I talked to another contestant who told me to keep pushing so someone will notice.”
Wilkinson said he may not have advanced in the contest, but he learned a lot from the experience.
“I know how to get people to recognize me now,” he said. “I’m building my confidence and self esteem, so I can go out and do these big things. I’m just kind of hoping for a miracle.”
In the meantime, Wilkinson plans to attend Northeast Community College in Norfolk for two years, where he will start a degree in computer science, sing in the college choir and take vocal lessons. After that, Wilkinson plans to go to Young Americans in southern California and earn an associates of performing arts degree before touring with the group and finishing up his computer science degree.
“The Voice” might not have worked out exactly like he had hoped, but he’s not giving up on his dream and he offered a bit of advice for others like him.
“Don’t give up,” Wilkinson said. “It might not work out the first time, but if everything worked out the first time, it would be too easy. You’ve gotta work for it.”