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Metro holds auditions for live performers

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Local artists are taking their talents, not to the stage, but to the Metro.

Tuesday night, musicians, dancers, poets and others auditioned for a chance at becoming street performers outside of Metro stations.

Those who are chosen will perform on a volunteer basis. They can't set up tip jars or sell merchandise. But, performing hopefuls say the opportunity to share their gift with some of Metro's 700,000 riders is priceless.

More than 50 people came out to audition at Metro headquarters in Northwest D.C. Each had three minutes to sell their star potential.

Singer Devante Gardner, 18, said, "I'm just ready to perform a lot of things. Get it out there to be heard."

Seventeen-year-old Cameron Vollin, better known as "Cam Blues" hopes to perk up commuters' ears with his soulful music.

"It's just something about the emotion and just the expression to music and the arts that makes me feel so great," Vollin said.

Kristoffer Wright is a saxophonist by day and an alto saxophone player by night.

"We're in our Nation's Capital. A lot of ways, this is the center of the world these days, so to be able to be a musician for this kind of audience would really be an honor," Wright explained.

Metro first invited artists to perform outside stations in 2007. Back then, performers were paid a couple hundred dollars per show--a gift from local arts councils.

But now that the grant money has dried up, artist will perform without pocketing a penny.

Michael McBride, with the Metro Public Arts Program, said, "You have a few musicians from time to time who's concerned that there's no stipend, but again those that really enjoy and love what they do, they'll perform, and we'll try to support them in any way we can."

The artists cleared for performing should be announced by next week. And for the first time this year, some will be invited to take part in the "Music on the Mall" program.

Metro station performances could start later this month.

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