Charlestown Employee Chases Her Musical Dreams on the National Stage

Renee Lucas auditioned for American Idol, The Voice, gaining valuable experience, memories

CATONSVILLE, MD---For Renee Lucas, a line cook at Charlestown retirement community, her love of music was fueled by simple times with family. "We would just belt out singing while we played cards," recalled Ms. Lucas.  "And my grandfather still sings pretty much everything and anything including Sinatra tunes and his version of Danny Boy." As a youngster, she took voice, guitar and piano lessons and made All-State, All-Anne Arundel County and All-Gospel in chorus.  She would sing wherever she could. But it was the dawn of popular musical-themed reality television programs that provided Ms. Lucas with an exciting new opportunity.  Traveling to New York, the resident of Glen Burnie has auditioned in 2011 and 2012 for The Voice as well as American Idol in June of this year.  And in July, she tried out for Baltimore Idol via Fox 45 News in White Marsh. With each nerve-racking audition comes valuable experience and feedback from producers that guide Ms. Lucas' chase of capturing a career in music. "You learn about the power of marketability from the producers," said Ms. Lucas.  "They are searching for the elite singers and even some of the lesser talented ones for the entertainment value of their shows." "There is such camaraderie amongst those of us waiting to audition," noted Ms. Lucas.  "We have all traveled a long way to get there, the day is long and many have the butterflies.  But we also enjoy the time together and learn from each other." She prepares by getting a good night's sleep and drinking plenty of water.  The process can be grueling as the national auditions consist of two to three stages before a variety of producers.  Ms. Lucas also says that it helps to have "go-to" songs, ones that are familiar and comfortable to sing. "I enjoy all forms of music, and Edwin McCain's I'll Be is one of about a dozen favorites that I like to perform," she noted.  "Country/pop is the genre that fits me the best." Her memories are made beyond the auditions.  In 2011, following her try-out with The Voice, she went to an Irish pub called the Pig 'N' Whistle located in Times Square.  An hour later, after she let them know about her audition, Ms. Lucas sang with the band, signed autographs and took pictures with the patrons. The Glen Burnie resident's talents extend beyond the microphone.  She attended the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute, earning an associate's degree in culinary and a minor in hospitality management.  She has worked with the Charlestown Dining Services Department for nearly two years and aims to own a catering company in the future. But that long-term goal takes a back seat to pursuing her musical interests. "I have seen how singers and songwriters like Colbie Caillat and Sara Bareilles worked and worked to get their careers going.  They are my professional inspiration," described Ms. Lucas.  "There is nothing like getting paid to do what you love, but there is also nothing like the emotional release of singing in front of an audience.  It's priceless." Her motivation is also family-related.  "I am doing this for my daughter to show her that a person should never give up on their dreams no matter the obstacles.  And my grandmother was my biggest fan.  She never missed a performance, whether it was in cheerleading, dance or chorus.  She was always there to encourage me, and I would love to show her that she was right to have faith in me." While not earning a spot on the program, her most recent audition with The Voice on July 21st opened eyes with producers.  Ms. Lucas sang with a partner for the first time and made new contacts.  She has even begun to write and record original music. "I'm on the right track and keeping at it." About Charlestown: Charlestown, managed and developed by Erickson Living, is a retirement community that provides worry-free living for America's seniors-the country's fastest growing population segment.  Erickson Living's financial value and predictable monthly service fees provide residents across the country financial peace of mind.  Comprehensive health and wellness services, integrated into our continuum of care, lead to demonstrated resident benefits.  A robust complement of resident programs and facilities promote an engaged, fulfilling lifestyle that is reflected in resident satisfaction levels that exceed the industry average.  For more information, please visit www.ericksonliving.com.