'Voice of UConn' discovered at singing competition

UConn student Wanjiku “Wawa” Gatheru was rewarded the title of the Voice of UConn during a competition in the Student Union Theater on Monday evening.

The Voice of UConn contest, hosted by SUBOG, consisted of six acts with diverse sounds, feelings and reactions.

The performers stood in front of five student judges: DJ Porter, an A Cappella Association President and the music director for the Rolling Tones a cappella group; Marissa Carbone, a SUBOG president; Frank Amaefuna, who sang in Vineyard Sound, an a cappella group in Martha’s Vineyard this past summer; Brett Steinberg, who has a band called Kalimur and opened for Jon Bellion’s UConn show and Nick Defeudis, a singer and songwriter.

The show opened with a performance from Defeudis, a rendition of “Everlong” by the Foo Fighters. He played his guitar instead of using a soundtrack like most performers in the show, which softened the song and brought out the emotion of the piece.

The first competitor, Elio Nallbani, performed an original piece that had a hip-hop/rap feel to it. Nallbani was very comfortable on stage and captured the audience’s attention by moving all around the stage and using animated facial expressions and hand gestures.

The next performer, Kelly Pfeiffer, performed the ballad “All I Ask” by Adele. She hit the high notes with confidence, which impressed both the judges and the audience.

Phil Steez and Cara Godas sang a duet written by Steez and produced by DJ CSMS at UConn, titled “Paradise.” Godas sang the chorus, which contrasted pleasantly with the rest of the piece, a rap performed by Phil. The duo won third place and a $50 gift card to Guitar Center for their act.

Next up was Martin Rong, who softened the vibe with “Hello,” originally performed by Adele.

Wawa was the second to last performer with her rendition of “Settle Down” by Kimbra. Her unique voice and song choice captivated the audience. Wawa’s prize was $175 to Guitar Center.

The last performer, Olivia Premus, won the second place prize, a $75 gift card to Guitar Center for her slow and emotional rendition of “Creep” by Postmodern Jukebox.

The show closed with judge Nick Defeudis performing a song that he wrote with his best friend from home called “No Fear.” It took the audience on a heartfelt journey of growing up too fast during a difficult childhood.

An impromptu performance of “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz had the entire audience clapping and leaving the show with smiles on their faces.

Sarah Maddox is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at sarah.maddox@uconn.edu.