The audition hall was like a fish market. Humans of every sex and size were talking, laughing, singing and nodding to inaudible music. Udeme hid his anxiety behind a stiff smile, found a spot on the line and let himself sink down on the orange and black rug.
He closed his eyes and his thoughts drifted to Duke Town. To the dusty wood and tin garage, where he practised his songs and worked on his beats while Grandpa fiddled with the new iPad and his friends made fun of him. One day they laughed so hard that their voices turned daggers and murdered his drive. He didn’t go near the garage for days.
Grandpa found him lying in bed, staring at the window.
“Koko, come and eat.” Grandpa had said.
“I am not hungry”
“Well come watch me eat then”
He dragged himself off the bed to the dining room. They ate together. When the meal of water-yam porridge was done and Peter, Grandpa’s steward had whisked away the empty plates, Grandpa held his hand.
“Koko, you have to be strong if you want to be an artist. You have to be stronger than the things that want to stop you.
You have to know that not everyone will like you and not everyone will hate you. Even God has enemies and the devil has friends.
The important thing is for you to like yourself and to keep making beautiful songs. To keep sharing and reaching for those people that do care about what you have. Those people that are hungry for what you share.”
And so he dragged himself back to the garage. He put locks on the doors tis time to keep stray humans out.
He sang for the wall geckos, the mice and the moths.
He sang till he lost his voice.
It came back again two weeks later, just in time for the Malta Live Idol auditions.
So here he was.
He wouldn’t make it to the next level. One judge thought he “had potential”, the other two looked too exhausted to care. The verdict was ‘No’.
In his rage he would burn his song books and his drums. And vow never to sing again.
But sing he would: at Grandpa’s burial, at a friend’s wedding then at a bar in a 5-star hotel where Steve Bruce was listening and loving what he heard.
He would get signed on. He would attend concerts and festivals in Belgium, Greece, Spain, America and Britain.
He would make millions.
And he would always say to himself,
“Udeme, it is the people that love you that count.”