Breaking into the top ten
It’s funny, ever since we started competing at international, our aim has always been to break the ten; but when it finally happened, we were not sure we could describe the feeling. If you ask us individually I’m sure we had different things running through our heads and it possibly meant different things to each of us; but as a group, as a whole, it was our greatest achievement so far.
We started our year like any other, although it wasn’t like any other because we had a baby on board! Gem was growing a tiny human and the question of international hung in the balance because baby was due six weeks before contest!
We decided that we would continue as normal, as if we were aiming to go to America and we would just see what happened. We rehearsed as much as was possible, some of those turned into Skype rehearsals but we made it work, while giving Gem the time she needed.
Fast forward to August, Pepper Jessica Fox, the cutest baby in the world was born, happy and healthy and we went to New Orleans, with a six-week old! Wooooo! Yaaaassssss!
Our international week was all very normal, we explored a bit, we rehearsed a bit, we made our coach a Lady… ya know… normal.
Contest day came and this year we were on towards the end, so we had the most leisurely morning, waking up late, having brunch and just chilling out; minus Soph who had a rehearsal with Viva Acappella. We usually spend all our time in each other’s pockets on contest day but we decided this year, given it was the most unconventional it had ever been, with lil PJ in the fold, that we were just going to take everything in our stride.
The semis was so much fun, we loved every minute on stage and we came off and all burst into tears, it felt like it went well but you never really know for sure. As we came out of the tunnel from backstage our lovely Region 31 people were there waiting for us cheering with tears streaming – it was so wonderful and overwhelming.
Next was the wait for results which was ridiculously nerve-wracking, it always is but this year it felt even more so. They called 15-11 and our name wasn’t called and so we thought, it could mean one of two things and given the contest standard had leaped, there was no way of knowing for sure which way it would go.
As they reached the 7th contestant, our minds were racing, they called our friends, Renagade as singing 8th and then we hear “singing 9th, FORTUITY!” From that moment it felt like everything went into slow motion. The five of us just held each other and sobbed; Nicky wanted this for us, just as much as we wanted it and that meant absolutely everything.
We don’t remember the finals briefing, we could not tell you a single word that was said, which is why we’re extremely thankful for HRH Nicky Salt, for paying attention while we collapsed into an emotional heap.
We had a day to assemble a finals set. The race was on. We had the songs but needed to knit them together with a theme. Writing a script was the kicker, it’s a lot harder than you imagine. Making sure that you are showing the audience your personality but also making it entertaining, without it seeming rigid. It took us the whole day to work on it, in between watching choruses and it was 9:30pm before we had something solid, that we were comfortable with.
Finals day was overwhelming. There was no other way to describe it; and each of us handled it differently but we got pretty good at supporting each other in times like that. You learn who needs to laugh, who needs a hug and who needs space. We got ready, we ran the set a few times with Nicky there as our cheerleader. Having her there was a huge source of comfort for us not just because she’s our coach and she knows us but also because she had done this, she had been where we were, so she knew the thoughts, feelings and last minute fears that come along with it.
We made sure to take 20 million photos along the way because we would never have our first finals appearance again and so we wanted to remember how we felt in each moment.
Before we knew it we were behind those white curtains with two Queens waiting to hold the curtain open for us and within minutes we were on stage under those super bright lights. The finals audience felt different to the semis audience. We guessed it probably would but we weren’t sure why or how. Not only is the arena completely packed but you were also greeted by a sea of crowns in the first couple of rows, which gave us a welcome reminder of what could be in our future if we dared to dream even bigger dreams.
It was over in a flash and because we had nothing to compare it to, we weren’t sure how we felt; all we knew is, we wanted to do it all over again.
There was one main point in the day that we suddenly thought “oh my god, we’re in the finals!?” – it was when we had to line up backstage before the medal presentation. Until that point we’d just been riding a wave of excitement and adrenaline and we weren’t sure it had truly hit us until that moment. I think because we realised that most of the people there, had done this all before and we had suddenly become a part of this elite group. It was very surreal.
Placing 10th, against the greatest quartets in the world, we were so incredibly proud and by the end of the week we were absolutely shattered. Emotionally and physically drained, so much so that in our six years of being a quartet, it was the first year we didn’t even make it to the afterglow!
With the help of many wonderful people, we made one of our dreams come true that week. It made us realise that all the years prior, all the disappointed tears, all the trying to make sense of our crit sheets, all the times we were sat in the audience wishing we were up there… it was preparing us for the first time we heard our name in the finals draw, the first time we stood on the stage with the rest of the top ten and the first time an international medal was hung around our necks because those moments, they will stay with us forever.