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2016 Dartmouth Idol Winners Annouced

Mar 09, 2016 06:32PM ● Published by Gabrielle Varela

In case you missed one of the biggest events of the weekend in the Upper Valley, the 2016 Dartmouth Idol came to a close on Friday, March 4th. Idol is a singing competition directed by Dartmouth’s Walt Cunningham, the director of the Gospel Choir. This was the ninth year of the event, and each year has offered awesome performances and a broad display of talent.

Inspired by TV’s widely successful American Idol, the competition brings together six contestants to compete throughout a series of auditions and semifinals, ultimately having it out in the Spaulding Auditorium in front of hundreds of fans both in the audience and watching from home. Vocalists are accompanied by a 20-piece band, judged by a panel of Idol alumni, and introduced by snarky student hosts, making for one of the most anticipated performances of the year.

Stephanie Everett (’19), the only freshman of the bunch, opened the show with a sweet, soulful ballad that she belted out with precision and range.

A glammed-up Grace Carney (’17) slayed the stage with a post-modern jukebox rendition of RadioHead’s “Creep,” turning the angst alt-rock song into a powerful, crooning jazz ballad.

Texas transplant Nikhil Arora (’16) gave a flawless performance of Sam Smith's “I’m Not the Only One.”

Clad in plaid, Jimmy Ragan (’16) rocked the Eagles classics, beginning with a haunting rendition of “Hotel California” and turning the rest into a party with “Take it Easy.”

The bubbly, energetic Chelsea Lim (’16) showed us a bit of her darker side with “Bust Your Windows” by Jazmine Sullivan, attributing such stage-presence sass to her alter ego.

Sean Haughey (’17) funked it up with a Stevie Wonder mix that matched his electric red pants, sliding and bopping across the stage as if he had been groomed for Motown stardom.

Closing the first half was a group arrangement. “Musical” from the play Something Rotten! had dancers in sequined tops prancing about and bringing the contestants out high kicking, as Dartmouth College President Phil Hanlon made a guest appearance on stage.

The second segment of the show was a series of duets. Vocalists were paired for operatic love songs like the lovely, delicate “All I Ask of You” from The Phantom of the Opera performed by Jimmy and Chelsea. Stephanie and Jimmy gave a heartbreaking rendition of Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now” (reassuring Jimmy’s girlfriend in the crowd, it’s definitely only “in a friend way”). 

But not all duets carried the sentimental sweetness and romance that brought audience members to tears like Chelsea and Sean’s rendition of Meghan Trainor and John Legend’s “Like I’m Gonna Lose You.” Same-sex pairings like the swoon-worthy “Justin Medley” from Nikhil and Sean made for a juicy arrangement of songs by pop icons Justin Timberlake and Justin Bieber. Favorites like “What Do You Mean,” “Suit and Tie,” and “Boyfriend” performed with such enthusiasm left everyone to wonder, is there a boy band in the making?

Stephanie and Grace came out in pinstripes and twirling, blowing it out with enviable swagger for a big, brassy performance of Janelle Monáe’s “Tightrope.”

The show came to a close with a chilling rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” by Grace and Nikhil. The creative artistic choice championed with stirring vocals sent the audience into explosive applause.

As the lights came up, the sounds of tearing, debating, and encouragement rushed through the theater, and ballots flapped as they were collected in large trash bags to be counted. With a nearly full theater waited for the announcement. Who would be the 2016 Dartmouth Idol winner?

“And the winner is Grace Carney.” Congratulations to Grace, and best of luck to all the contestants of this year’s Dartmouth Idol.

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