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Battle Of The Voices

In place of the annual Spring Concert was “Battle of the Voices,” presented by the Resident Student Association. The event featured two celebrity guest judges, two-time Grammy winner Melanie Fiona and former Mrs. Carter Show opening act Luke James. In preparation for the American Idol-esque event, St. John’s students battled it out in a five-week competition, where only four would get to advance to the “Battle of the Voices” finale to compete for the chance to win cash prizes. The final four contestants were Ashley Germain, Lisa Anakwenze, Mariah Cameron and Ava McCoy.  Although very different, these talented ladies all share the same passion: a deep love for music.  Throughout the show, audience members got to hear the extremely diverse styles of the four contestants ranging from a cover of John Legend’s “Ordinary People” to rock performance of “Killing in the Name of” by Race Against the Machines.

Prizes were awarded to those based off of key categories: stage presence, vocals and audience involvement.  The four female performers opened with a unity song singing “Fly” by hip-hop artist Nicki Minaj, harmonizing with R&B veteran R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly.”  The female competitors then sang their first songs and received critique from the judges.  Mariah Cameron opened her performance by singing Jordin Spark’s classic “No Air,” while a few judges responded negatively calling Cameron’s vocals pitchy, she received positive feedback from Melanie Fiona saying “‘No Air’ is one of [her] favorite duets.”

Some of the contestants faced some confliction with the criticism that was given to them by the judges. Sophomore Ava McCoy, a dramatic arts film and television major, opened the finale battle angelically singing Elle Varner’s “Not Tonight,” which drew much love and attention from the judges and crowd. However, in her second song, a fun renditon of Beyonce’s  “Drunk in Love” mixed in with a few other popular tunes, and two back-up dancers, was not well-received by the judges.  This performance was the polar opposite of her first. The judges voiced that they felt like that wasn’t McCoy’s style and that she should stick to what she was familiar with. “I respect the notes they gave, but I also felt like they didn’t know me, so I don’t really feel as though they should tell me to stick to one thing,” said McCoy.

As the night continued, fans were treated to stellar performances from Cameron, who redeemed herself with a powerful vocal performance of “Ava Maria,” and Germain, who gave her all in a soulful cover of “If I Aint Got You,” that blew away the judges. By the end of the night, fans were in four different corners as the ladies each brought different styles and flavors to the stage.

When it was all said and done, it was time to announce the winners of the $1000 and $500 cash prizes. Lisa Anakwenze was announced winner of “Battle of the Voices” with Ava McCoy and Ashley Germain coming in second and third place, respectively.

“Being the winner is a crazy and surreal feeling because everyone is so talented and the talents vary, but I am honored and I praise God for this,” says Anakwenze after she was crowned the winner of the 2014 “Battle of the Voices.”  It was not a shocker to viewers as everyone gravitated to Anakwenze because she captivated the audience and judges with her theatrical, but also vocally talented, performances of “Crazy” by Cee Lo Green and Michael Jackson’s “They Don’t Care about Us.”

The night ended with special performances from celebrity guests Melanie Fiona, who gave the audience a dose of her sultry vocals, and Luke James, who left the ladies weak in the knees with his version of “Sexual Healing.”

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