More than 200 students gathered at the Wynn Amphitheater Friday, April 4 for APU’s annual “American Idol”-style singing competition, “Final Cut.” After performances by 12 finalists, a panel of celebrity judges announced the winner: senior psychology major Kevin Rochester for his soulful rendition of Jill Scott’s “Hate on Me.”
After the announcement, the crowd began chanting “encore,” and Rochester complied. Audience members ran from the amphitheater’s cement steps and crowded around the stage cheering and dancing.
“I felt so energized and happy that so many people were having a good time,” Rochester said. “I mean, with the backup singers like Dana Meshkin, Raquel Jimenez and Steven Schmidt singing, how can you not have a good time?”
“Final Cut” is a part of a project from the Music Business II class taught by Director of Commercial Music David Beatty. This course allows students to advertise and produce their own concert.
The first round of auditions for “Final Cut,” held three weeks before the final round, was open to all APU students. There were 35 students who participated. Students in the music business course chose 12 contestants to move to the final round, in which celebrity judges chose one winner to receive studio time in APU’s on-campus recording studio, located in the music building.
“The students are in charge of picking the venue, making arrangements for all of the equipment, making decisions about the layout and advertising, and they seek sponsors,” Beatty said. “They do all of the things a concert promoter would do in a real world.”
The singoff began with emcees senior music major Adam Hollick and junior business administration major Alex Tutungi introducing the celebrity judges. The judge panel included percussionist and singer-songwriter Mona Tavakoli, percussionist and independent A&R; consultant Barry Squire and Colin Delvin, lead singer and guitarist for The Delvins.
The night opened with a performance of Bruno Mars’ “Treasure.” Soon after, other finalists took the stage performing songs from various genres such as pop, country and R&B.; While some students performed pieces by artists like Katy Perry, Jill Scott, Corinne Bailey Rae and Oscar Isaac, others sang original compositions.
“I performed an original song called ‘Treehouse,’” sophomore business management major Amber Hofland said. “I decided to participate in ‘Final Cut’ because of how amazing last year’s show was and how fun the opportunity seemed.”
As the night progressed, the crowd clapped, danced and laughed during the live performances.
“I was interested in going to watch ‘Final Cut’ because it seemed interesting and I liked that it was going to be ‘American Idol’-style,” sophomore communication studies major Ayelet Brown-Jackson said.
After each contestant performed, the judges gave feedback on the performance. At the end, while they deliberated final results, the school band performed live music to entertain audience members. Some students began to dance on the grassy area in front of the stage to an acoustic version of “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder, performed by the school band.
After 10 minutes of waiting, emcees Hollick and Tutungi took the stage to announce the winner. But, first both had all of the performers come on stage to receive one more round of applause before the crowd and band drum rolled and Rochester was announced the winner.
Senior commercial music major Claire Harvey said she was “very pleased” with how the show turned out.
“I was amazed at how many people were there and having a good time,” Harvey said. “Everyone in my class worked so hard on this event.”