I grew up on a farm in a small town in a very strict Baptist family, and excelled in school and gymnastics. However, I couldn't wait to get away. I dreamed of living in a city, having a rock band, and getting a record deal, but I would just have to wait. My parents were convinced an electric guitar would lead me to drugs. When I was 15, Dad bought a house near Ocean City, MD, and that's where I fell in love for the first time and started writing good songs (subject to opinion).
I went to college in Nashville, TN to pursue my dream of rock stardom (Nashville? Audra, are you sure you weren't trying to be a country music star? Weird, I know.) It was the only music hub my parents would consider--L.A. was too far and NYC scared them--so I enrolled in Belmont University's Music Business program.
While studying to obtain a degree Business with and emphasis on the Music Industry that was centered right down the road from campus. If you had an internship with a record company, you could walk. My first band, Merry Madness was only together for 1.5 years, but toured the South East and appeared on the revival of Star Search with Martha Quinn hosting the band portion. The band broke up after we lost, then the drummer quit and the bassist went to jail for drunk driving. All the while I worked at various gymnastics gyms and had a very short stint as a waitress (I won a contest for the world's worst). Merry Madness never recorded anything but a few demos. I dated other guys but was still in love with the beach guy (who didn't like the sand).
After graduation, I formed my second band, Audra & the Antidote. At first we sucked, but we took good photos, so they always featured them in the local scene mags. Then we started to actually get good and the internet was just beginning to flex the muscles that would eventually knock the music business down and make it crawl. Unable to forget about my lost love, I searched the web. The primitive search engines (anyone remember Ask Jeeves?) managed to produce ten to twenty possibilities. I emailed each of them until I found him in California and we started emailing.
I uploaded one of our mp3's to a new music site that was connected to a new cable TV show: Jimmy & Doug's Farm Club (The Jimmy was the legendary Jimmy Iovine of Interscope records). Not long afterward, my lost love decided to move back to the East Coast, but I talked him into stopping by Nashville on his way to see me. He did and stayed. Meanwhile The Farm Club wanted us for their show. It was going to be our big break! We were flown to L.A., treated like rock stars, played with Creed and Godsmack, and when the show aired... nothing happened. My love found a job in Tampa and asked me to come, but I couldn't. My dream of stardom was so close to coming true!
We kept up a long distance relationship for a year. In the meantime I submitted (online again), to another contest. But this was no ordinary contest. This had been fifteen years in the making by Dick Clark. It was to be the American Music Awards' New Music Awards and it was going to be a big deal. Like, huge. Dick Clark was going to present the semi-finals in front of a sea of record company executives during the first day of the most prestigious music conference in the country.
My long distance long moved back in with me. A month later I jumped around the tiny apartment like a pogostick when I got the FedEx informing me that the band was selected for the semi-finals. Hurray! This was going to be it. All we had to do was wait for the date. We were going to be flown to NYC and play in front of the sea of record company execs and fly out to Manhattan on Sept. 12... 2001.
Well, if you didn't catch the date, look again. On Sept 12, all flights were grounded, so we weren't going anywhere. The dozen or so other bands started emailing each other because no one knew what was going on. Finally after a week we learned that it was to be rescheduled along with the whole music conference. Unfortunately, because it had to be rescheduled, Dick Clark couldn't be there and our performance couldn't be the first day of the conference anymore. It had to be the day before. So, instead of playing for a sea of record company execs, we played for a sea of firemen, who got into the show for free in a gesture of goodwill and hope. We didn't make it into the top three who went on to a national tour and everyone in the venue who saw our performance just couldn't believe it.
Later I heard that it was because we didn't look like we fit the Coca-Cola image. I wore low-cut skin tight outfits, and Emmy our bassist, was (and still is) a lesbian. When we were in the top 50, I even had to sub out a long because the very first line was, "Stevie always said that he was a lesbian trapped within the body of a man." I had no idea why they wanted me to sub it then only after I pressed them did they admit it was because I said, "lesbian." Oh how times have changed!
It dramatically affected our morale unlike the producer's studio that caught on fire while doing our demo, or the other producer who actually died while working on our project. Maybe the universe was trying to tell us something. The drummer quit, we got another, were in talks with an indie label who came out to see one of our last--and most disaterous--performances. The very last one the new drummer had quit, Emmy wasn't available, so we had our old drummer and our old bassist subbing, for a show that was like an audition for a spot in the upcoming local music conference which last year we had to turn down because we were in NYC and *maybe* going to go on tour. We only rehearsed one night but I thought they remembered the stuff. I was wrong. Afterwards we laughed our asses off until a week later I learned that we didn't even get into the conference. Yeah. Big nail in the coffin.