Student Activities Board hosted the first round of WU’s Voice in the Goodwin Performing Arts Center Friday Sept. 20 at 8 p.m. The show is in its second season after replacing Waynesburg Idol last year. The contest runs for three weeks and operates similar to NBC’s competition “The Voice” where judges blindly pick singers to mentor, culminating in one winner. For the Waynesburg event, first, second and third place out of the 12 contestants will all take home a check for their winnings.
The three coaches for this year’s competition are director of housing at Waynesburg University, Matt Pioch, resident director Elizabeth Diviney and assistant professor of vocal music and director of choral music Melanie Catana. Pioch decided to return after his team won the event last year because of the atmosphere the competition brings, and of course to defend his title.
“First off, I need to defend my championship that I won last year. Right now, I am the only judge that’s won WU’s Voice before so I have to defend my title,” Pioch said. “Beyond that, it’s not really about that. It’s about being able to invest in students and participate in something that’s fun and energetic and something that we can all have a really good time with and celebrate the talent that is here in Waynesburg.”
Pioch filled his team with transfer finance major Bryce Gibbons, Avery Burt. sophomore pre-veterinary major, senior children and youth ministry major Conner Hoffman and freshman communication major Caleb Yauger.
“I love my team,” Pioch said. “I think everybody on my team has a different skill set and so I think we are going to attack the crowd from multiple different angles. I think we are going to have a strong crowd presence in our songs.”
When Pioch picked Yauger, he said he believes the freshman can win the whole competition.
“The style of his voice really plays to what the college crowd is looking for,” Pioch said. “He’s got a really smooth balance to his voice. He’s got a lot of charm and charisma on stage as well. Anytime you can have both going on at the same time, you pair that with the right song choice and you’ve got a recipe to win.”
Yauger appreciated the complement from Pioch and has confidence he can compete for the title of WU’s Voice.
“I’m honestly honored that he [Pioch] said that,” Yauger said. “We will see how the competition goes. There’s definitely good competition around here and we will see what happens.”
Yauger has grown up around music which has helped shape his performing ability.
“Music has always been in my family. When I was eight or nine years old, I started to discover that I had a voice,” Yauger said. “Experimenting with instruments like piano, guitar, getting involved with church plays and musicals. I did every musical since seventh grade in high school.”
The competition will continue next week in the GPAC, where contestants will take on songs from the early 2000’s. Pioch believes the event will continue to receive high attendance.
“I think anytime you can get together with your peers and do something incredible it’s going to bring a lot of people in,” Pioch said. “Also it’s a Friday night, it’s something to do to get out of the residence halls and have some fun. So. I think it’s all of that and just the sheer amount of talent we have here on campus, people want to see that.”