Carmen Darden’s initial reaction was a sense of disappointment and letdown.
It didn’t take long for her to alter her disposition.
After fielding the news that she would not be invited back to audition for NBC’s reality television singing competition, The Voice, Darden, a senior at Memphis Craigmont High, went from one who was seemingly heartbroken to one whom, given her immense passion for singing, knows full well she will likely be presented with similar opportunities in the foreseeable future.
One of hundreds of participants who stood for hours in long lines and sub-freezing temperatures Saturday afternoon outside of the Cook Convention Center in downtown Memphis, Darden elected to sing “Where I Belong” by 23-year-old renowned singer Tori Kelly.
At 16 years of age, Kelly, who is currently signed with Capitol Records, auditioned for the singing competition television series American Idol before she was ultimately eliminated from the show.
Consequently, she began working independently before releasing her first EP that she produced, wrote, and mixed.
That Kelly managed to exhibit resiliency following her unceremonious exit by the American Idol is among the reasons Darden deem it essential to cling to lofty hopes of someday embarking upon a successful music career.
“I was beyond excited,” Darden told longtime journalist Andre Johnson. “It was one of my dreams to audition for The Voice competition ever since I was young. At first, I was a little sad, but I got a lot of words of encouragement. I realized that there is much more for me out there than just that competition. I won’t let this bring me down, but only be my reason to keep going.”
According to Darden’s mother, Joye Martin who, along with her two other children, accompanied Darden to Saturday’s audition, one participant said he sensed her daughter was overlooked and should have been invited back for a second audition.
“One of the other participants said to (Darden), ‘I can’t believe they didn’t pick you,’” Martin explained. “He said, ‘I thought you blew all of us out of the water.’ I told her not to be sad and that it was okay. I told her she still had one of the most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard, and just because they said no, doesn’t mean this is the end.”
All things considered, Darden wasted little time heeding the advice of her mother and those who sensed her gifts as an aspiring singer was overlooked.
At least on Saturday.
Still, that Darden stood for hours in long lines and braved the frigid conditions was well worth it, she acknowledged.
“I take from this what’s meant to be will always be, and what isn’t won’t,” she said. “Maybe that wasn’t meant for me. Anything could’ve happened that God was protecting me from. The very best that I found in it, though, was true inspiration to keep going.”
Given her spirited change of heart following what many sensed was a snub for Darden amid Saturday’s audition, it’s safe to assume she has no plans of slowing down anytime soon.
If nothing else, Darden contends The Voice audition only fueled her desire to demonstrate resiliency just like Kelly in the wake of her disheartening exit from American Idol seven years ago.
“Next, I am going to start writing again, from the heart,” said Darden, an honor student who is preparing to head off to college in the fall. “I’m going to begin my own YouTube channel, singing songs from other artists. Then, I am going to drop my first EP.”
So much for a disappointment and letdown.
EDITOR’S NOTE: If you are a singer, entrepreneur, author, musician, songwriter, tax preparer, accountant, financial advisor, hair stylist, model, cosmetologist, barber, athlete, or pastor/minister who is seeking exposure and would like to share your story with an in-depth news feature, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him under “Andre T. Johnson” for details.
Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.