Student tests her talent in front of the judges


Sami Riggs (pictured) auditioned for “America’s Got Talent,” but won’t know if she is advancing until the end of March. Her talent is vocals and guitar.

Nerves were welling up inside Sami Riggs as she walked in front of the judges. They greeted her with disinterested faces; but as she began to sing Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” their expressions changed to interest and curiosity. They started to pay attention.

Riggs, a junior at NKU, decided to take a chance and try out for the TV show “America’s Got Talent.” Her talent: vocals and guitar.

Riggs has been singing since she was in diapers but didn’t really find her voice until she began working with vocal coach Kim Sand. Sand met a tearful Riggs for the first time after she received an earful of some harsh critiques about where she needed improvement.

“The very first thing I noticed in that moment was that she was not defeated,” Sand said, “she was determined.”

Changing a singer’s vocal habits is a very tedious job and a person must practice for a tremendous amount of time in order to change the old muscle memory in their vocal chords. Riggs was up for that challenge.

As they both worked on Riggs’ vocal hurdles, her confidence began to grow which would eventually spur her to go out for the audition for “America’s Got Talent.”

With some final pushes from family and friends Riggs decided she would give it a shot and if nothing came about from it, the experience would be worth it.

“I went in with no expectations,” Riggs said. Not knowing that she would be asked to audition two more times after her initial round with the judges, experience was her main goal, serious consideration was just the icing on the cake.

So here she is sitting between a drag queen and a magician, waiting for yet another audition in front of another panel of judges. Having only rehearsed one song for this day, she decides to wing it and go with a song she knows by heart, “Free Falling” by Tom Petty.

While Riggs won’t know if she will be advancing in the show until the end of March, she’s not too worried about making it big. Her name in lights is not what’s important to her, it’s the feelings she evokes from the audience with her music.

“I want to be known for the songs I write,” Riggs said. “I want people to feel something.”