Friends and supporters of Albany State University, including Albany Mayor and alum Dorothy Hubbard and Dougherty County Commission chairman Jeff Sinyard (center), gathered Friday in the HPER Gym for the school’s 2013 Homecoming Convocation. (Staff Photo: Brad McEwen)
ALBANY — Albany State University alum and world-renowned opera singer, Travis Pratt, encouraged students, faculty and guests at Friday’s 2013 ASU Homecoming Convocation, to never give up on their dreams.
“Never take your mind off of your goals,” Pratt told the audience. “Do not allow people to force their limitations on you.”
Pratt, who received a Bachelor of Arts degree in voice from ASU before becoming a professional singer, took time from his performing schedule, to help the school celebrate this year’s homecoming by serving as convocation guest speaker.
Pratt captivated the crowd at the HPER Gymnasium, as he told numerous stories about his past, including one about an embarrassing audition that changed his life.
Pratt shared about once auditioning for an important show in New York early in his career, where despite practicing and preparing, he panicked and gave what he said was one of the worst performances of his life.
“Guys, I was extremely disappointed,” Pratt said. “It was the worst I had ever sung.”
Pratt continued by saying that he now feels he panicked out of fear of success. In his mind, he had been “self-sabotaging” himself for some time.
He told about doing things like not turning in applications and assignments on time and procrastinating just to create reasons for not succeeding.
He said he felt that if he failed for some other reason, then his failure would not be because of lack of talent, which was, in fact, his real fear.
“I was looking for an excuse to lose,” he said. “I was hiding. I was afraid to succeed.”
After his humiliation in New York, however, Pratt realized he needed to stop hiding, and truly chase his dreams. “I vowed to myself, I will never feel that way again,” he said.
Once deciding to work toward his goals, Pratt was amazed by his success; which culminated in his earning a spot on NBC’s hit show, America’s Got Talent.
Although he was eliminated prior to the finals, Pratt was able to use that exposure to further his career.
He has since performed around the globe, has received more than 12 million views on You Tube and was recognized by “The Huffington Post”,” The Today Show”,”Entertainment Tonight” and “Rolling Stone” magazine for his vocal abilities; the latter printing that his voice was “stunning and hair raising.”
When speaking of that kind of success, Pratt stressed repeatedly that none of those things would have happened for him if he had not stayed focused on what truly made him happy.
“Don’t pretend to be happy when you have the power to change what makes you unhappy,” Pratt urged the crowd. “You have to keep the promises you make to yourself or your mind will loose respect for your will. Never loose sight of you goals.”
When introducing him, ASU outgoing President Everette Freeman told the crowd that Pratt’s determination and focus were the exact embodiment of what Albany State hopes to see from its students.
“He is what we mean when we say potential realized,” Freeman told the audience. “He has taken Albany State with him all over the world.”
In addition to Pratt’s address, those on hand were also treated to performances from ASU’s concert chorale, the ASU Marching Rams Show Band and the ASU cheerleading squad.
Perhaps summing up the overall feeling in Albany as homecoming weekend begins, was Dougherty County Commission Chariman Jeff Sinyard.
“As I drove down all the roads this morning I was all that blue and gold and got really excited,” Sinyard said. “Go Rams!”
The convocation was one of several university and alumni events held this week as part of the “Rams Reunion” homecoming. More activities are scheduled for today, beginning with the annual homecoming parade through downtown Albany and culminating with a gridiron clash between the ASU Golden Rams and rivals Morehouse College Maroon Tigers at the ASU Coliseum at 2 p.m.