WEB EXTRA: Students compete in Colonial Idol at MVC

Twelve students participated in the second annual Colonial Idol Monday night, a talent competition whose winner will sing the national anthem at the Colonial Invasion ceremony Friday night.

This year’s champion, sophomore Yoko Uchida, is a native of Japan and moved to the United States six years ago.

“In Japan, I used to go to Karaoke bars all the time, but I still haven’t been to one in America,” Uchida said. “I’m definitely going to call up my parents in Japan and tell them the good news.”

The event was part of Spirit Week 2005, which kicked off last Friday and included a carnival and bingo night sponsored by Program Board. The week will culminate with Friday’s kickoff to the basketball season.

While the stakes weren’t as high as those for the nationwide talent contest made popular on Fox, tension ran high at GW’s answer to “American Idol” as six judges attempted to give constructive criticism to idol wannabes.

“I think your personality makes up for your lack in singing ability,” Kimberly Clemens, the campus community director of Mount Vernon, told contestant Matthew Ireton.

Judges had more favorable comments for Uchida.

“You have an amazing talent,” said Renee Clement, another judge and the Student Activities Center director for orientation.

“The voice that comes out is just so unexpected and clear,” Clement said of Uchida’s performance. “It’s really, really nice.”

More than 50 students gathered to see the competition at the Mount Vernon Pub. Most of them went to see their friends perform and were raucous with unflagging support.

While not all of the contestants had formal training in singing, most had been singing for a significant period of their life, they said. Junior Gwyn Garrison had sung the national anthem at her high school, but on Monday she was hoping a Tracy Chapman song would grab her gold.

“I try to emulate her style,” she said.

Angie Castillo, a freshman, said she had been singing ever since she was a child, but this was one of the first times she had ever sung in public.

“I’ve never really had anyone support me in singing, but all my friends in my dorm encouraged me to try out,” Castillo said.

While the prize at the end of the show is not a record label, some GW students and faculty seemed to take Monday night’s Colonial Idol just as seriously as the “American Idol” show.

Some judges seemed unclear as to what to say to performers, and their praises rang hollow when preceded by a line of sharp criticisms.

“There were some lyrics, pitch and projection problems, and I think you need to work on your style,” Clemens said to one contestant. “. but overall a really good job.”

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