Students show off vocal talents at EU Idol

Along with blooming trees and April showers, the coming of spring heralds the annual chance for Eastern students to show off their vocal talents at EU Idol, presented by the campus chapter of International Justice Mission.

The judges for this year’s competition were Communications Professor Kevin Maness, Dean of Students Daryl Hawkins and English department Chairwoman Dr. Caroline Cherry. Though Dr. Cherry was suffering from a sore throat and could barely speak, her presence and warm humor were evident throughout the show. She carried out her judicial duties admirably, with Maness reading her comments off of note cards.

Sophomore Steve Chafee performed the role of cheesy host well, evoking groans and occasional laughter with his shtick.

Eight competitors performed for the judges and audience members in the Dining Commons on April 8.

Some of the singers, such as senior Erik “Scooter” Curtis and first-year Tim Noftzger, accompanied themselves with instruments, while others, including first-year Amadly Cruz, sang a capella.

With two friends snapping in time, first-year Elisa Ranieri gave one of the most dynamic performances of the first round, a jazzy rendition of Peggy Lee’s “Fever.”

“I was surprised all that voice came out of there,” Maness said.

The few students who used backing tracks struggled with speakers that were too quiet, one of a few equipment problems that persisted throughout the night. However, that did not keep sophomore Sandra Goezel from singing her way to the second and final round with Twila Paris’ “How Beautiful,” an appropriate song for Ash Wednesday.

“You have a lovely, lyrical voice and good range,” Dr. Cherry said through Maness.

Advancing with Goezel were junior Jordan Gates and sophomore Ian Hoffman. Gates sang and played keyboard to Coldplay’s hit “The Scientist.” It was a commanding performance, with Gates grinning and turning melodic embellishments throughout. Hoffman gave a repeat of his performance at the Valentine’s Day Coffeehouse, playing the Jason Mraz song, “I’m Yours.”

“That song really fit you,” Hawkins said. Maness agreed: “You have a lot of personality in your voice and you brought out the joy in the music,” he said.

During an intermission between the two rounds, IJM representatives juniors Laura Lockyer and Tyler Pihl gave a presentation explaining the organization’s mission of securing justice for “victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression,” as well as how students can help the cause.

Above all, Pihl stressed prayer as the primary way students could aid IJM’s work.

“IJM makes it clear that prayer is crucial to their work,” he said. “IJM employees, as well as victims around the world, fundamentally need prayer.”

After the presentation, the three finalists were each given the opportunity to sing one more song. Gates’ performance of Dashboard Confessional’s “Hands Down,” which he dedicated to a friend in the audience, proved to be the judges’ favorite and they declared him 2009’s EU Idol, a title that won him not only glory, but a trophy and a $25 gift certificate to Chili’s.

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