FREDERICK — Like most talented singers, Jill Ishmael got an early start at performing.
“When I was 2 years old, I used to sing into the antenna on my parents’ car,” Ishmael said. “My parents knew I was naturally a singer, and they supported me as I pursued that passion.”
While Ishmael’s talent is easy to spot, breaking into the music industry is notoriously difficult. Instead she focused on singing each week at her church with her husband, Jake, who often accompanies her on various instruments.
“I auditioned for ‘American Idol’ in Seattle in 2008,” Ishmael said. “But I only got to sing for maybe 20 seconds.”
Ishmael auditioned simultaneously with row after row of potential contestants for the show, but the producers quickly grabbed a couple of names and sent everybody else home.
Her experience is common for the thousands of contestants who audition each year for nationally televised talent contests. And it was exactly this frustrating search for a true audition that created Colorado You Got Talent, which held auditions in Frederick March 2.
“I heard about the contest on Facebook,” Ishmael said. “And it was a great time. They really listen and watch you and give you time to perform.”
Ishmael and her husband, along with six other Frederick residents, were both selected — during the audition held at Pete’s Place — to go on to the regional tournament this summer.
Mattie Peltier, executive director for Colorado You Got Talent, said she created the competition, which is now in its fourth year, to give people like Ishmael a fair chance to showcase their talent.
“Our winners this year get front-of-the-line auditions with producers for America’s Got Talent,” Peltier said. “But I want to make it clear, other than that prize, we’re not directly affiliated with the TV show. But it’s one of the good ones. I’ve started watching the show, and they do have all ages, all looks. Some of the other shows just have the same clean-cut contestants who all seem to have the same cookie-cutter look.”
Peltier crafted the talent show to include an important metric often missing from other contests: passion.
“We have people who do stand up comedy, juggle, sing, play instruments,” Peltier said. “And our judges evaluate their skills, but not how they look. And no matter what the talent is, we’re looking for that degree of passion that shows that the contestant has put the time and effort into something they love.”
For Ishmael and her husband, the competition was also a fun way to enjoy an evening close to home.
“For us, our focus is our family. We have four children,” Ishmael said. “But this was a great date night for me and my husband.”
Along with the Ishmaels, the six other contestants going to regionals are Alan Eberly, Brandon Martin, Mikey Presnell, Sarrah Petrakos, Tanya Bratton and Tom Rizzi, owner of Pete’s Place, where the auditions were held.
Ishmael admits that she has wondered what might happen if she wins the competition, but she has no intention of upending her life if an opportunity arises.
“We’ve been singing in our church for 13 years, and it’s what we love to do,” Ishmael said. “Singing has always been in my heart, whether I’m singing to my children or leading worship, it doesn’t matter where stage is. I just love to sing.”
Contact Ben Wiebesiek at 303-659-2522, ext. 205, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.