Six finalists will compete in Idol

by Haley Gordon | 3/4/15 6:40pm

This Friday, six finalists will compete for the title of Dartmouth Idol in a night of competition reminiscent of famous televised shows like “American Idol” and “The Voice,” in the eighth annual Dartmouth Idol finals.

This year’s finalists are Chris Yih ’17, Danielle Piacentile ’17, Audrey Djiya ’17, Danny Rogers ’15, Charli Fool Bear-Vetter ’15 and Tara Joshi ’18. These six singers will all perform solos ,duets and a group number backed up by a 20-piece band from Chicago. Other Dartmouth performers will provide talent for back-up singing and dancing.

The first place winner will receive $500 and have the opportunity to record a two-song demo. The second place winner will get $250 and third place winner will receive $100.

The finalists were chosen from an initial pool of 70 students who auditioned at the beginning of winter term. The students auditioned with a prepared verse and chorus from a song of their choice. 25 students were chosen from this group to move on to the semifinal round, which took place on Feb. 3rd. In front of a crowd, each student sang one track from a set list and received feedback from several judges. The six finalists were chosen based on the judges’ total scores and audience votes.

Addressing the popularity of Idol, co-producer of the event Joshua Kol ’93 said that it provides an opportunity for solo singing that is otherwise unavailable on campus.

“We might see a lot of singers that we know perform in an a cappella group but we never get to hear them solo,” Kol said. “I love being involved in it because this is an incredible opportunity to hear tons of singers on campus who I think we would have no way of hearing if it weren’t for this program”.

The finalists, spanning from freshmen to seniors, range in experience and personal style.

Joshi, a member of the a cappella group the Dodecaphonics, said that she had always wanted to compete in a singing competition like Dartmouth Idol.

“I’m obsessed with the Voice and X-Factor,” Joshi said. “I just wanted to check [Dartmouth Idol] out and see how I’d do in a singing competition.”

Djiya competed in Dartmouth Idol last year and made it into the semifinals but did not progress. Djiya said that she decided to compete again this year because of the positive experience she had with the whole process.

“I wanted another chance [to perform],” Djiya said. “I thought it was really awesome that Idol provided me with an opportunity to showcase my personal talent.”

The process of semifinals created a sense of solidarity, Djiya said. There were students with varying levels of experience performing on stage — some came from a cappella and choir backgrounds while some had never sung on stage before.

“We were all there supporting each other, happy to hear each other succeed and genuinely happy when people gave good performances,” Djiya said.

Another level of community was built with the finalists as they began preparing for the final night of competition, since they perform two duet numbers with other finalists and one group number. Each finalist has a private meeting with Dartmouth Idol founder and musical director Walt Cunningham and the idol team to decide which three pieces they will perform in the final show.

When choosing a song, performers have different goals and preferences. Joshi said she preferred songs that would be unexpected and showcase her vocal range. Djiya said that when choosing a song she wanted to find a piece that the audience would enjoy and would be fun for her to perform, but would also push her past her limit.

“I have two back-up dancers, one from Sugarplum and one from Ujima,” Joshi said. “I’m really looking forward to performing with them onstage because it’s so much fun to incorporate so many kinds of performing arts into one show.”

The theme of this year’s show is “Origins: Legends and the Bands that Launched Them.” All of the songs performed by the finalists will relate back to that theme.

The show has developed a significant following, Kol said.

“We have to hold tickets for students because otherwise it would sell out to the community,” Kol said. “It’s this great opportunity for people all over campus to come together around an arts event.”

The Dartmouth Idol final performance will be held Friday at 8 p.m. The Spaulding Auditorium is currently sold out for the event, but tickets are on call for between five dollars and $15 for students and $10 to $15 for community members.