UH Voice showcases singing sensations

Musical notes echoed through the New UC Theater on March 6 as accounting senior Adlith Castillo won the Student Program Board’s UH Voice, a live on-campus singing competition — showcasing four teams of three singers each — inspired by NBC’s hit television show “The Voice.” In addition to the winner, the finalists were  pre-pharmacy freshman Chidima Ubah , management information systems sophomore Christine Bang and supply chain and finance senior Matt McLaughlin.

Castillo won the audience over with her talented performance of two gospel songs: Vicki Yohe’s “I Just Want You” and Lauren Talley’s “His Life For Mine.”

“Honestly, it was kind of a surprise,” Castillo said. “I saw so much support for the other contestants, and although I was not discouraged, I didn’t really expect to win or to go through to the last round.”

When reflecting upon her emotions while on stage, Castillo said she lives for the adrenaline rush.

“I always feel great to be on stage. It’s always been an exhilarating, adrenaline-pumping moment for me.”

The night’s performances included a lineup of song choices ranging from soulful classics like Aretha Franklin’s “Natural Woman” and Etta James “At Last” to more modern pieces like Justin Timberlake’s “Suit and Tie” and Cee-Lo Green’s “Forget You.”

“I loved that they featured a wide variety of songs and music genres. I was surprised to hear the country song ‘Mama’s Broken Heart’ by Miranda Lambert, and my friend freaked out when Justin Nozuka’s ‘After Tonight’ played,” said construction management senior Darcy Gomez.

“Initially, I didn’t know what to expect since I’ve never seen the show. I thought it was going to be lame, but it was actually entertaining and fun. I was shocked by how good everyone was — UH has a lot of talent.”

Liberal arts senior Jason Callaway said he agrees.

“All of the talent was so powerful and diverse,” Callaway said. “That high note at end of the last performance was epic. It was Mariah Carey status.”

Among the many talents was Bang, who chose to perform Aretha Franklin’s “Natural Woman” and Etta James’ “At Last” because of their timeless influence.

“They’re classics. You can’t go wrong with that,” Bang said.

Bang credits her mom as her musical inspiration.

“She’s a choir singer in a local chorus,” Bang said. “She does solo singing and more opera kind of stuff. Looking at her from a young age, it’s like ‘Wow, my mom can do that — I want to do that too.’ She put me in piano lessons and kind of classically trained me through piano. Once you start with one musical thing, you venture off into other activities.”

To combat her nerves before performing, Bang took the advice of her “UH Voice” singing coach, Jimmy Mai.

“My coach, Jimmy, told me to ‘get lost in the music,’” Bang said. “Within that short period of time (of his coaching), I felt he helped a lot. What we did in the 30 minutes was very valuable.”

Psychology freshman Kathleen Nguyen, who performed a mash-up of TLC’s “No Scrubs” and Shakira’s “Hips Don’t Lie”, said her musical journey started during her freshman year of high school.

“I didn’t think anything would come out of it,”  Nguyen said. “I started singing more popular songs, which got me more views, and more views equals more subscribers, and it kind of took off.”

When asked which medium she prefers to perform through, Nguyen said both have good qualities.

“I like performing both on stage and YouTube,” Nguyen said. “They give me two different feels. On YouTube, I’m more free and it’s just singing to a camera. On stage, I love it when the crowd interacts with me. It’s just the best feeling in the world.”

In contrast to the contemporary Christian songs that Ubah sings at her church, she performed “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse and Whitney Houston’s version of “I Will Always Love You.”

When reflecting on stage fright, Ubah said she remains at ease.

“I’m not nervous, but I will be,” Ubah said. “Once I go on stage, I’ll be fine. We’ll see how it goes.”

Prior to the live UH Voice performance, contestants underwent a two-semester process including pre-screening, a blind audition and a YouTube elimination round leading up to the final event.

The live performance included two stages of the knockout and final round. The knockout round narrowed down the 12 contestants to four finalists, while the final round decided the sole winner.

Instead of having a panel of judges decide the winner, UH Voice used Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and texting to allow the audiences to decide the winner themselves by using the hashtag #SPBUHVoice and liking posts.

When reflecting upon her emotions while on stage, Castillo said she lives for the adrenaline rush.

“I always feel great to be on stage. It’s always been an exhilarating, adrenaline-pumping moment for me.”

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