Dartmouth Idol Finals take place tonight at the Hop

by Savannah Miller | 3/2/18 1:15am

Talented students performing diverse song selections will be featured in the Dartmouth Idol Finals tonight at 8 p.m. in Spaulding Auditorium at the Hopkins Center for the Arts. Directed by Walt Cunningham and hosted by Aaron Cheese ’18 and Harrison Perkins ’18, Dartmouth Idol is a vocal competition that has become a tradition at the College, celebrating its 11th year. On Friday, the six Dartmouth Idol Finalists to perform are Kate Budney ’21, Matthew Haughey ’21, Soomin Kim ’20, Eni Oyeleye ’20, Connor Regan ’18 and Caroline Smith ’21. They were selected after the Dartmouth Idol Semifinals on Feb. 2.

Oyeleye said he decided to audition for Dartmouth Idol after seeing friends try out last year.

“I like to take any opportunity to sing,” Oyeleye said. “It’s what I really like to do. I thought it would be really fun.”

Smith was taken aback to learn she was a finalist as first, but now she is looking forward to performing in Spaulding Auditorium on Friday.

“I was initially really surprised and shocked,” she said. “After that, it started to settle in that I was a finalist.”

Haughey, who spent a significant amount of time rehearsing for the semifinals and preparing to perform, was grateful that his effort paid off.

“I’m so excited,” he said. “I was really happy to have that justification. I put a lot of work into [my semifinals piece].”

Kim, who is a part of the Dartmouth College Glee Club and typically sings classical music, is looking forward to singing in a style very different from what she is used to.

“This whole journey has been full of surprises,” she wrote in an email statement. “It has definitely been a challenge to get out of my comfort zone, but I’m so excited to share my passion and love for music with the Dartmouth community.”

While the students who moved on from semifinals were determined equally by judges’ scores and student votes, the winner of the finals will be chosen purely based on the audience’s vote. The finals will still feature four judges who will comment on the different performance aspects of each piece.

During semifinals, judge and former Dartmouth Idol winner Tara Joshi ’18 said she focused on the participants’ voices and how well they were able to push their vocal abilities.

“I look for creative things people do with their voice,” she said. “I think for Dartmouth Idol, you should know your voice really well.”

The six finalists worked closely with Cunningham and the Dartmouth Idol production team on song selection and preparation following the Feb. 2 semifinals. Each contestant performs a solo piece and a duet with a semifinalist, Joshi said. Budney believes the wide array of music genres featured in Dartmouth Idol Finals is part of what makes it so interesting to attend.

“There’s all different types of music,” Budney said. “There’s something for everyone.”

Budney’s duet will be a mash-up of “Love So Soft” by Kelly Clarkson and “Turn the Beat Around,” originally sung by Vicki Sue Robinson. She will also perform this piece and her solo song “Somewhere” from “West Side Story” in the style of Barbara Streisand.

“[‘Somewhere’ is] a classic song, and it’s really powerful,” she said. “I think it’s meaningful to a lot of people.”

Oyeleye is also excited for both of his pieces — his duet will be a medley of bass solos, and while he is keeping his solo selection a surprise, Oyeleye believes it will be another crowd-pleaser.

“I’m really excited about my song,” he said. “It sends a really important message, and I’m excited to perform it.”

Other performances to look out for include Haughey’s duet mash-up of “Livin’ la Vida Loca” by Ricky Martin and “Feel It Still” by Portugal. the Man; Smith’s solo “Don’t You Worry ’bout a Thing,” a song originally sung by Stevie Wonder, in the style of Tori Kelly; and an opening number that includes all of the finalists.

Dartmouth Idol Finals is a collaborative affair featuring other student performers on campus including members of various student dance groups and student musicians from the Barbary Coast Jazz Ensemble.

Joshi is excited to see how Dartmouth Idol grows from previous years, citing the director and his inclusion of other ensembles and bands as part of what keeps the competition so popular within the Dartmouth community.

“[Cunningham] tries to do something different every year,” she said. “He always tries to do something a little extra, a little more than the last year.”

Kim is excited to see how all these performance elements work together.

“Dartmouth Idol is not just about singing,” she said. “I believe that it’s really a collaboration of the arts. Every number, every song is crafted uniquely to that performance.”

Haughey cited this production quality as a major attraction.

“This has so much choreography, there’s a big band, there’s back-up singers,” Haughey said.

Joshi believes that Dartmouth Idol’s universality and love for the arts is part of what makes the competition an enduring tradition at the College, and one of the most beloved ones at that.

“[Dartmouth Idol has] been one of the most important things in establishing a focus on the arts at Dartmouth,” Joshi said. “What [Cunningham has] done has been really crucial. It makes people who have never been to Spaulding Auditorium want to go to Spaulding Auditorium.”

While Dartmouth Idol does have winners and prizes, the performance really focuses on the singing. Smith said she is just excited to see the process through and have fun while doing it.

“It’s going to be a blast,” she said. “I think a lot of us are just focusing on having fun and making sure the experience is worthwhile.”

Dartmouth Idol Finals is at 8 p.m. tonight in Spaulding Auditorium in the Hopkins Center.