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Volume 68, Issue 141, Friday, April 25, 2003



Cougar singers vie for Idol claim; winner gets recording opportunity

By Matt Dulin
The Daily Cougar

It took a second-round runoff and stretched nerves, but Allison Bell, a biophysical science freshman, won the Cougar Idol title in the Universityis first-ever talent competition. 

Pin Lim/The Daily Cougar

Allison Bell hits a high note while singing "Reflections" at the Cougar Idol talent competition Thursday. Bell took home the grand prize.

She accepted the contestis grand prize -- a recording demo with Phazzer Records and a 17-country European railway tour -- after beating other vocal talents picked from a preliminary pool of about 100 contestants last night.

Bell, whois been a singer and flute player since the fourth grade, said sheis excited about the new opportunity. Her dad greeted her with roses backstage.

"This is totally exciting; I canit believe it," she said as a Channel 8 cameraman taped her in what had quickly become a pseudo-media sensation.

Backstage, they bit their nails. They paced back and forth. They laughed nervously. They glanced at the clock.

In the final deciding moments of yesterdayis Cougar Idol event, all 10 contestants, even the really nice ones, became a little impatient. Nevertheless, they werenit really worried about winning, though they all seemed to say the same thing:

"If something big happens, if I get the opportunity, Iid grab it, definitely," said Jayne Jocson, who nabbed the runner-up award and vocal instruction lessons.

"Well, if the opportunity comes, sure, Iid like to try to sing professionally," psychology freshman Gabriel Barbieri said.

The "opportunity" they were banking on was the chance to be Cougar Idol. All of the contestants this reporter spoke to said they were performing simply because they loved singing, though they had many reasons for being there.

"My friends actually wanted me to do this. They kind of convinced me, encouraged me to do this," Jocson, a pre-nursing sophomore, said. "It couldnit hurt to try."

Jessica Mathew, a pharmacy freshman, was voted the audienceis favorite. She called singing "a hobby, a passion" -- an attitude shared by many of the contestants.

One would-be Idol, Sara Reitmeier, is a chemical engineering junior. She explained that she was offered several scholarships for her singing ability, especially for opera, but she opted for another interest -- math and science.

"This is just a great way to showcase all of the talents we have here at UH," said Lauren Johnson, coordinator

of marketing and programs at the University Center and Associated Facilities. "Itis also going to give someone a chance to live their dream with a recording demo. Itis exciting."

Lauren organized the Cougar Idol contest, an idea she said was dreamed up in November last year. 

"Weive been working on this just about every day since January," she said. 

The event drew a relatively large crowd, filling about a third of Cullen Performance Hall. 

"Students seem to really like the idea of it," Johnson said. "Weire hoping to do this every year."

Local sponsorships, such as Phazzer Records and STA Travel, which is arranging the tour of Europe, helped make it happen, Johnson said.

The event was also made possible by collaborative efforts on the part of the University Center, UH Wellness and Campus Activities.

"We hope this is a good way for students to have a little fun and get away from the stress of finals for a little while," Johnson said. "I hope it becomes a great tradition, an end-of-year festivity."

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