By J’na Jefferson
“O Fortuna” blared from the speakers as the judges walked on stage and took their seats. Although the classical song’s serious tone was used for intimidation purposes, Rider’s on-campus singing competition the R Factor, currently in its second season, is a friendly competition for all involved.
Returning judges Assistant Director of Campus Life Nick Barbati and Associate Director of Athletics Karin Torchia were joined by two new judges: Athletic Marketing Assistant Donte Carter and Campus Area Director Jamiyl Mosely.
This year the competition was more interactive because audience members were able to connect with the judges through Twitter pages created for the event; the hashtags “#RFactor” and “#RiderU” were used to live tweet during auditions.
Many contestants from the first season attempted to make it back to finals by auditioning again. Sophomore communication major Meg Scheels, runner up to last year’s winner sophomore popular music culture major Eric Krieg, did not disappoint the judges with her rendition of “Up to the Mountain” and advanced to the next round. Last year’s third place winner, sophomore radio and TV major Marrissa “MJ” Chatman, wowed the crowd with the song “If I Ever Fall In Love” by Shai.
“You stole my heart,” Mosely said to Chatman. “You killed it.”
In addition to familiar voices, new ones also emerged during the audition round. Sophomore musical theater major Milika Griffiths and freshman undeclared liberal arts and sciences major Anthony Washington secured a spot on Carter’s and Barbati’s teams respectively after they were chosen in the “judge’s pick” round. Senior arts administration major Louise Mayer was Mosely’s personal “judge’s pick” after singing “Valerie,” accompanied by senior radio and TV major Kevin Rafferty on guitar.
A big trend during the auditions seemed to be R&B songs, with senior political science major Keenan Bailey’s rendition of Mario’s “Let Me Love You” and sophomore popular music major Nicole Smith’s version of “Unbreak My Heart” by Toni Braxton.
However, it was sophomore musical theater major Andres Feliz’s soulful cover of a Musiq Soulchild song that moved both the audience members and the judges. He was Torchia’s “judge’s pick.”
The audition round also showcased some unique styles of singing by the contestants. Senior global supply chain management major Mathilde Buchet opted to sing a Celine Dion song in French and freshman voice performance major Stephano Andreotti performed an a cappella version of Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up.”
Junior popular music majors Jalyssa James and Toni Walker-Stanley put their voices together for a twist on the gospel song “I Love You, Lord,” which Torchia said “set the bar” for the rest of the auditions.
Although much of the competition involved singing, some contestants showed off their instrumental talents as well. Freshman theater major Darin Earl and sophomore global supply chain management major Cole Clark, who accompanied Scheels last year, played their guitars. Junior radio and TV major Stephen Walters performed a unique mash-up of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” and Green Day’s “Give Me Novacaine” on his guitar. Sophomore musical theater major Angelina Valente sang a piano cover of Gavin DeGraw’s “Dancing Shoes,” which the judges called beautiful, praising her strong vocals and piano playing.
According to Nick Barbati, Team Torchia is composed of Feliz and Scheels, Team Donte is Griffiths and Valente, Team Jamiyl is Mayer and Chatman and Team Barbati is the duo James and Walker-Stanley as well as Andreotti.
After the judges made their personal picks, the rest of the contestants were randomly added to each team. The finals of R Factor will be on Feb. 22, and the winner will receive his or her own on-campus concert during University Day, as well as a check for $500.
Printed in the 2/8/13 edition