GREENVILLE - Shannon Clark, a Greenville native, wasn’t sure he’d ever pursue a career in music again after a life-altering event occurred several years ago, but after a brief break, he decided that in order to be a better role model for his children, he needed to continue to go after his dreams, and in January, he auditioned for America’s Got Talent.
After a four-year hiatus from music, which Clark said he took to focus on his family after his wife Brittany became ill and their oldest daughter passed away, he began playing again last year.
“I struggled with that decision, and last year I decided I was going to start playing again; I want to be a role model for my children, and if I’m going to do that, I can’t just throw away my dreams. As I’ve gotten older, my focus has matured, and so has my dream,” Clark stated. “At this point, what I really want is to stay home with my family and write songs for other people. I don’t need to be away from my family, or my spiritual responsibilities, to do that.”
Clark has played at several area locations, including Main Street Greenville’s First Fridays, and this Thursday he’ll be in Preble County at Taffy’s in Eaton, beginning at 7 p.m., which Clark stated was a free show. He’s not in the business for the money, but for the love of the music, he said.
“The music industry is no way to support a family these days; there are too many obstacles, and it’s harder to get people to come out to live shows and get them involved,” Clark said. “I want to always do something with music, but I’ll always be doing other things too, soap making or my food trailer or whatever.”
When he saw an opportunity to enter a contest to win front-of-the-line passes through ReverbNation to audition for America’s Got Talent, Clark wasn’t even sure he wanted to take advantage of the opportunity, but in the end he said it was a good way to network with people in the industry, if nothing else.
“I’d always thought about doing that type of show before, but I wasn’t really into the idea of waiting in line to hear someone I don’t really respect judge my music,” Clark commented. “But, I won a contest through ReverbNation for front-of-the-line passes, which is just like it sounds, I got to go to the front of the line in whatever room I was in, and just went in with the next group that was called back.”
An assistant producer called back groups of 20-25, Clark said, into a room with a camera and lights set up. Those auditioning stated their name and what they were playing, and “everyone in the room listens to you play,” Clark said.
“I was amazed how many people showed up to audition who had just, no talent, and no business being there,” Clark commented. “I was trying to be serious and keep a straight face - and there was this one girl who couldn’t remember the words to her song, picked another, and couldn’t remember those, either…I was the last person in my group to sing, and I was nervous, which was odd because it’s not like I’ve never performed in front of people, but this was different.”
The group was dismissed following their auditions, and told they would be contacted for follow-up. As Clark was putting his guitar away, however, an assistant producer asked to see him again. Clark played “Sunday Morning” by Maroon 5, and got partially through “The Way You Make Me Feel” by Michael Jackson before he was stopped and asked to talk more about his personal story, losing his daughter and taking a break from music to focus on his family.
“We were talking and it was personal; I was a little emotional, from the adrenaline and being nervous, talking about my daughter,” Clark recalled. “She thought I had a great voice, and wanted me to audition for the producers; they don’t tell everyone that the producers are even there, because they don’t want them to be disappointed. Only about 200-300 get to audition for the producers, out of the thousands that audition. But she told me I needed to give 200 percent; that they were looking for star quality, and that I needed to sell my talent with my story.”
Clark waited about 30 minutes before being shown to a room with lights, camera, and producers, where he sang a Michael Jackson song, and a song he’d written himself.
“They were less personable at this stage, and harder to read; when I’d performed for the assistant, I knew she liked what she was hearing, I could see it on her face,” Clark said. “I sang, and I thought I did pretty well. They said they’d review the audition tapes and contact us in February or March - and they stressed that no decisions would be made that day.”
Shannon’s wife Brittany said she knew that if there was a next step in Indianapolis, that Shannon would make it there, though they are both curious to know what happens at the next stage. Shannon said that they’re not willing to compromise their values for him to appear on the show, but that he’d be willing to try it.
“As far as I understood, that was as far as I could get at that point,” Shannon commented. “I feel like I could have shown my personality more than I did, but I didn’t want to be disrespectful. I know I went in and did a good job, though.”