A University of Richmond senior made it to the second round of auditions of the Emmy Award-winning singing competition "The Voice" last month after his acapella group encouraged him to try out.

Pierre Galloway is a member of The Octaves, the University of Richmond’s oldest and only all-male acapella group. When The Octaves traveled to Boston, Massachusetts, for a performance on Jan. 26, they discovered auditions for The Voice in Boston were the next day. 

The morning of the audition, Galloway said he had made sure to arrive early, even though it meant waiting outside in the cold, Boston air.

“I got there an hour before their doors opened, around 6:30 a.m., and there were people already there,” Galloway said. “After I got there it just doubled, the line was so long.”

Galloway said his performance of “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley was so memorable that he was called back by the producers of The Voice. Despite this, Galloway didn't make it past the second round of auditions. 

Galloway said he had entered the building in the first group of ten people, and had been met with drug dogs and metal detectors. Though the level of security was intense, Galloway said he had not been surprised since he had auditioned for the show two years ago in New York.

After people in his audition group tried out one after the next, producers then selected people who were called back to sing again. Two years ago, in Galloway’s first audition room, he said no names had been called. This time his was. 

“Everyone was clapping," Galloway said. "It was surreal for me."

The Octaves flew back to Richmond on Jan. 28, but Galloway’s callback was scheduled for Jan. 29. He said he had been able to stay in Boston at the home of The Octaves’ president, Blake Normandin.

“My mom was all for it,” Normandin said. 

When Galloway arrived at the second audition of the weekend, he said he had felt nervous and unprepared. He did not bring any backtrack, a requirement for call-backs, to accompany his singing. Instead, Galloway said he had been forced to rely on his iPhone with a defective headphone jack.

“I didn't plan on getting a callback,” Galloway said. “I didn't even have, like, clothes. I wore my performance clothes… you know, my khakis, blazer, tie, white shirt.”

Under the beaming lights and cameras, Galloway sang “Recovery” by James Arthur, a song he often performs, he said. But, Galloway said he sang in a key higher than he was used to, and failed to hit certain notes as he had hoped to.

“The muscle memory of singing in a certain key gets very ingrained in you,” Morgan Simmonds, fellow Octaves member, said about the difficulty of changing keys. “As a singer you can get stuck in one thing, how it sounds in your ear, how it feels while you’re singing it. So that could definitely make it harder.”

When Galloway finished singing, the producer said he had not been on his game that day, and released him from the audition, Galloway said.

Galloway said he was proud to have made it further than he did in his last audition for the show and that he had learned a lot. He said his favorite part had involved a questionnaire he had filled out before his call-back audition.

“The questions they asked were like, 'Who inspired you to start singing?' and 'Why are you the one to beat?'” Galloway said. "It challenged me in that way, to just start thinking about it.”

Galloway’s answer to, "Why are you the one to beat?” was, “I am Pierre Devontae Ducksworth Galloway, there is no one else like me.”

Galloway and The Octaves will be performing next for their Valentine’s show on Tuesday, February 13th at 9 p.m. in Tyler Haynes Commons.

Contact contributor Gabi Telepman at gabriela.telepman@richmond.edu.

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