Potomac Mills mall was bustling Saturday afternoon, but the same couldn’t be said for The Potomac Nationals’ national anthem audition.
“We had a bigger crowd last year,” said Jason Choi, one of the judges. “But at the same time just because you have a bigger crowd doesn’t mean you get a lot more quality of voices.”
The majority of participants had registered at 9 a.m., when registration began, and had completed their auditions just before 11 a.m., said Jarrod Wronski, spokesman for the Potomac Nationals.
About 50 people auditioned between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., a drop from last year’s more than 80 people, the 27-year-old Choi said.
Still, several people drizzled in as the audition neared its completion.
After delivering a hearty rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” Karen Parsons of Centreville said public auditions are probably too uncomfortable for most people and may be the reason why more people didn’t show.
As someone who has been singing practically since she was born, Parsons said, the crowded mall wasn’t enough to throw her.
“I’ve never sung in a mall before. It was definitely interesting,” she said. “It’s kind of weird, though, because you know people are listening to you, but they’re not watching.”
With her traditional rendition of the national anthem, 21-year-old Amy Baillargeon, wowed the three judges and two men who were enjoying a lunch to kill some time.
“She’s been the best so far,” said Jesse Shirey of Sterling. “You could tell when she pulled the mic away at the end that she’d done this before.”
Shirley’s friend and co-worker Mark Williams thought Baillargeon had the caliber of a professional recording artist.
“She needs to record,” the Alexandria resident said. “She’s that good.”
Although a newcomer to the audition, Baillargeon said she had sung the national anthem at her high school basketball games at Evangel Christian School in Dale City.
“I was sounding a little off this morning,” she said. “But the lord really blessed me for this audition.”
It was Stafford resident Christine Melendez’s second time auditioning. She was picked from last year’s auditions to sing at one of the games, but wanted another turn at the bat.
“I was excited,” the 16-year-old said of her performance last year. “It was my first experience singing the national anthem in front of such a huge crowd.”
There are 69 slots open, Choi said, and about half will be filled from Saturday’s auditions. Singers the team wants to bring back from last year, he said, will fill the other half.