Students across campus gathered in the Goodwin Performing Arts Center 8 p.m. Friday to watch the finale of this year’s WU’s Voice competition. The final seven singers each put on a unique performance to wow the audience.
Although there were many talented competitors, some returning to the competition and some new to it, only the three top-voted singers received monetary prizes.
This year’s first place winner is Caleb Yauger, freshman communication major. He chose to sing, “Hallelujah,” by Leonard Cohen for his final song, which resulted in a loud roar of applause throughout the audience on the night of performance.
Second place went to returning competitor Thomas Faye, senior music ministry major, and third place went to freshman Emmanuel (Manny) Les’Pere.
Yauger said he had no idea what to expect going into the competition. Although he has performed on other stages before, the WU’s Voice competition was entirely new to him.
“This was my first time performing in [the GPAC], so it was a little different, but I got used to it and just enjoyed the experience,” Yauger said.
Yauger said his favorite part about the competition was getting to know the other competitors and developing camaraderie with them.
“I made so many friends backstage,” Yauger said. “That was the best part; meeting people and just getting to know each other and supporting each other backstage. It was awesome.”
This year’s competition was a first-time experience for Les’Pere, as well. He decided to sing, “Eye of the Tiger,” by Survivor for his final song. Les’Pere stayed on tune as he switched vocal octaves throughout the song, bending it to his vocal ability. But Les’Pere didn’t just sing on stage, he danced as well. His energy on stage was apparent, and his moves didn’t seem to affect the vocal part of his performance at all.
Les’Pere said dancing while he is singing can be very challenging, depending on the song he chooses to sing. Despite this, he didn’t consider how difficult dancing to his final song might be when he chose it. He said he was looking more at what song meant the most to him and what would best suit his voice.
Les’Pere said he was “shocked and excited” to win third place, but believes he did very well in his final song.
“I thought that I would not get this far, honestly. I thought I wouldn’t get past round two,” he said. “But I had a good presence, I interacted with the audience very well, and I had energy.”
Matthew Pioch, director of housing, served as one of the coaches. This was his second year as a coach for the contestants.
“It’s always great seeing students compete, and just go out and perform,” Pioch said. “The audience also enjoys it, so it’s pretty great just giving that opportunity.”
Pioch said he can only guess how WU’s Voice is going to end each year, as it’s a different dynamic every time.
“It’s always good to see just how talented the students here are,” he said. “I never know who is going to win.”