U of C singing contest back for seventh season

By Scott Strasser

When first-year engineering student Chris Bell gets up on stage in the Libin Theater on March 28 to sing a rendition of Michael Buble’s “Just Haven’t Met You Yet,” he will be fulfilling a lifetime hobby and passion.

“I’ve sang for as long as I can remember,” Bell says. “I remember singing in kindergarten. There are old video tapes of me singing from before that even.”

Bell and five other singers will be performing in the seventh annual UC Idol charity competition. The contest — fashioned in the same style as American Idol — will allow six of the University of Calgary’s most talented singers and musicians the chance to showcase their skills while raising money for the Canadian Cancer Society.

“I saw [UC Idol] as a way to get involved. I saw it as an outlet to get involved with the university and as an outlet to sing and pursue my hobby,” Bell says.

Event co-director Mitch Baruta says the contest has been steadily increasing in popularity. Auditions took place in the fall, with contestants auditioning either online or in person. After multiple rounds of judging from the executive team, the six finalists were selected and will perform on March 28.

“We had a good few dozen audition this year,” Baruta says. “Unfortunately we had to cut out the vast majority [of singers]. We cut it down to 12 finalists and then cut that in half to the six who will perform.”

Bell and the other five contestants will each perform two songs for the live show. After these first two rounds, the audience will cast ballots to decide the two finalists, who will perform a third song. A judging panel consisting of U of C professors Patrick Finn, Isabelle Barrette-Ng and Ashley Causton will provide their personal opinions and insight. While Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson will not be able to make it, event co-director Kathy Le says the judges won’t be afraid to tell contestants how it is.

“Causton has kind of taken on the role of our Simon Cowell,” Le says. “He can give pretty snarky remarks. Last year he told one of the contestants she sounded like she was singing at a karaoke bar.”

Past seasons of UC Idol have seen hundreds attend. For many of the contestants, UC Idol will provide the biggest stage they have ever performed on.

“Contestants from past years have said that U of C Idol was a big step for them musically,” Le says.

Guest performances for the show will include the University of Calgary Improv Club and a performance from opera singer Mercy Lamola.

The event will run from 6:30–9:30 p.m., after which the audience will cast ballots to determine the winner. The prize is $100, as well as the distinction of being the UC idol.

Tickets are $12 or $15 on the day of the event. Proceeds will go towards the Canadian Cancer Society.

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