By Anna Patrick, Editor
West Liberty senior Karin Freese walked away the winner in the final competition of the first-ever West Liberty Idol held on campus.
A large audience filled the ballroom of the Student Union to watch Freese and Ryan Ritchea perform two songs apiece and try to win the votes of their peers on Thursday, March 22.
With 12 students auditioning for the singing competition, Ritchea and Freese were the only students to make it through all three rounds to compete for the West Liberty Idol title.
In the first round of singing, the competitors had to perform a song by the Beatles and the second song was the students’ choice.
Freese, a secondary English Education major and music minor, won the most votes by performing “I Want to Hold your Hand” by the Beatles and “You and I” by Lady Gaga. She said the Beatles’ song “is just beautiful” and had a “different theater-esque arrangement.” Although Freese said the Lady Gaga song was “definitely out of my comfort zone” she did not let it show.
As the West Liberty Idol, Freese won Dre beats ear phones, a camera, iPod shuffle and a $100 cash prize. Jordan Hayden, co-organizer of the competition, said the prizes were donated by, “The Compston family, the Hayden family, the Cook family, United Bank, Serendipity Medical Management, Game Stop and West Liberty’s Student Government Association.”
Jim Compston, Housing and Residence Life Coordinator and overseer of Idol, thanked all of their sponsors as well as the judges: Marcella Snyder, Jill Howard, Ashley Carter, Courtney Drahos, and Dan Hopkins.
Regarding her win Freese said, “It’s a huge honor to win and it’s certainly a high note on which to end classes. It means a lot knowing all of my friends and family took time from their own lives for an hour or so and trekked up to West Liberty just to see me perform and vote. It was so kind and I appreciated all of their support.”
West Liberty Idol runner-up Ritchea is a freshman and will have many opportunities to take the title. “I think Ryan is amazingly talented and he is a great guitarist. Even though we had very different musical styles, he was absolutely phenomenal as well,” Freese said.
“Ryan and Karin were both amazing competitors. Each brought something totally different to the table, and both competed fiercely every week,” Hayden said. Host and co-organizer Kyle Cook said, “Our audience definitely had a hard decision with two outstanding performers to choose from.”
Compston said, “Both Karin and Ryan put out a hard effort. They really brought students to the program. They are one of the main reasons this program was a success. They both did a great job on the finale.”
Freese was very pleased that Housing and Residence Life decided to host this new event on campus. “The housing department, Kyle Cook especially, did a wonderful job with putting this even together. Usually events on campus either flourish or fall apart, this event flourished,” Freese said.
Hayden agreed with Freese that Idol has been well supported on campus. She said, “Idol has received an incredible amount of response on campus. It’s really amazing to see that students have consistently been attending and voting the contestants through each week.”
Students can look forward to seeing the West Liberty Idol on campus again next year. “We will surely be hosting West Liberty Idol next year again. Our main goal through the whole process has been to make this a WLU tradition,” Hayden said, “Hopefully next year we can get bigger sponsors, get more judges from different areas of campus, and even draw a bigger contestant pool as well as audience.”
For next year’s contestants Freese said, “I would suggest that future contestants listen to their friends for support. If your friends have good suggestions realize they are the ones who will be there voting so be willing to go outside of the musical comfort zone and experience something strange and new.
“At the end of the day, sing what makes you happy.”