The X Factor is in the U.S. now. The show originated in the U.K. and has discovered talents like Alexandra Burke (her version of Cohen's, Hallelujah is breathtaking), Leona Lewis, Susan Boyle, etc.
Tryouts and boot camp ended last week. The contestants' experiences are similar to ours. They brave the scrutiny. They wonder if their voices are authentic enough. A five-million dollar recording contract is at stake for the winner (okay, so that part is nothing like our experiences). The judges look for a contestant with the "X Factor." That thing that no one can articulate, but we and they all know it when we hear it, and more importantly, when we feel it.
So, Jackie's post about the senses made me think about how artists in other genres can no better explain the artistic process and all its mysteries. We all do our best. And we can all learn from each other.
Take a look at this audition by Melanie Amar0: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3vmajqZIWY
In the first few seconds, we know her voice is authentic. The audience and judges know it, too. How? She sings in key, her voice is authoritative, she moves seamlessly and effortlessly from her upper register and into her lower register, while using all the tools in her singer's toolbox to "assault" the audience's senses. She sings from her soul. Even if her song choice isn't your cup of latte', I dare your goosebumps to stay asleep, especially during the falsetto. I dare them.
The point is an artist (I know; that's a big word and all) must assault the senses from the first word, that first line, through the middle, until she belts the climax from the rooftops, then follows her character towards a satisfying ending, a powerful one that leaves the reader smothered in goosebumps, breathless and wanting more.
Trust your goosebumps.