Scott Li walked onto the stage, his heart racing. In front of him were judges who would decide his fate in the singing competition.
Li, an interdisciplinary studies junior, competed in the “Voice of China” singing competition and placed third in the U.S. division. While his family and friends encouraged him to participate for the experience, Li said he was hesitant to compete.
“The only reason that I participated in the first place was because my dad wanted me to go, I never really liked these competitions in the first place,” Li said.
Two of his father’s tenants were auditioning for the U.S. division of the “Voice of China,” which has since been rebranded to “Sing!China.” Li said he didn’t plan to compete, but went to support his friends and check out the competition.
After driving from Houston to Carrollton where the competition was held, Li waited with the tenants for their turn.
“Outside of the stage, there is a waiting room and there are people lining up waiting to perform in front of the judges,” Li said. “There was a small stage and people were practicing.”
When practice wrapped up, the staff opened the stage to anyone who wanted to perform. Encouraged by his friends to go, Li sang and impressed the event workers. He said they asked him if he wanted to enter the competition even though the deadline had passed.
After thinking about the offer for a few minutes, Li said he decided to compete but was nervous because he hadn’t prepared at all.
“Everybody else had these guitars,” Li said. “I didn’t have any song ready. I just chose an old blues song … because it was acapella.”
Because of his late entry, Li was the last person of the day to sing in front of the judges. After singing, Li said they complimented him.
“One of the judges, after I finished singing said, ‘Oh man, I was asleep the entire day and now that we got to you I finally woke up,’” he said.
Li said he was sent to the lobby with the rest of the participants after his performance, and waited several minutes before they were all called back into the competition room.
The judges kept 20 of the contestants in the room and then announced who the five winners were — and Li wasn’t one of them.
“Honestly I was a little disappointed,” Li said.
Thinking nothing of it, he went back to Houston and forgot about the competition.
A week later he received a phone call late at night asking if he was going to L.A. that Saturday for the national competition. Without realizing it, the “Voice of China” had sent him an email to his junk account to invite him to the next round.
Li said he then called his father to tell him he had won. Li said his father encouraged him to compete for the experience and to meet new people.
“I was really hesitant and my dad said, ‘You don’t need to think about it as a competition but just go and sing as if you’re doing a night of karaoke with friends,’” Li said.
While Li loves to sing, he said he prefers doing it in smaller settings.
“I always enjoyed singing non-competition, especially in kind of a smaller audience and things like that,” he said.
The first round of the competition included the top five contestants from each state, with 50 moving to the next round. Li made it through.
Although Li said he’s usually comfortable singing, the stage and large crowd made his throat constrict and it was hard for him to perform.
“(I thought), ‘Oh man, if my voice serves me as well as it did in the rehearsal then it will be no problem.’ Then it gets to the actual night-time, I end up getting real nervous and my voice ended up choking a little bit,” he said.
Li said the song he chose, “Innuendo” by Queen, wasn’t the best crowd-pleaser song. He ended up getting third place at the competition and didn’t advance to the next round.
“It wasn’t life changing or anything, but it was a fun experience. I went more to have fun than to compete,” he said.
After competing in “Voice of China,” Li has gone on to compete in other events like UTDTV’s talent show, Comets Got Talent and at various festivals in the area. He said he hopes to continue to do so.
“I definitely want to perform more because it’s just fun,” Li said. “I hate competing, but I love just going up to have fun.”