By Aja Alexander and Austin Ferguson
Rider University’s annual coveted contest The R Factor kicked off Friday, Sept. 14, bringing students together to watch some of the brightest stars battle for the spot to stardom.
Popular music and an on-stage light display welcomed the hundreds of audience members into the Yvonne Theater for the ninth season of auditions for The R Factor. The singing competition first started in January 2012.
The R Factor owes thanks to “The X Factor,” Simon Cowell’s show. Nicholas Barbati, assistant director of campus life for ctivities and student engagement said that “[The R Factor] started a year after the show “The X Factor” premiered in the United States, which was the inspiration for the show, so we emulated it, brought it on campus, and it has lasted longer than the original show that inspired it.”
The show began at 8 p.m. with the hosts, sophomore business administration major Goanio Chavarria and senior political science major Dalin Hackley, coming out on stage to welcome the crowd and introduce the judges.
Along with his usual duties at the office of campus life, Barbati was also a judge at the event, and was joined by former “X Factor” USA finalist Dani Knights and music video director for Atlantic and Capitol Records Ryan Hutchins.
Despite not having a career directly involved with music, Barbati defended his credibility on the panel of judges.
“When ‘The X Factor’ started, the show wasn’t about singers judging other singers,” he said. “It was about managers judging singers, and when it comes to Rider’s campus, I’m the ultimate talent broker.”
There were 20 Rider students who performed during auditions. They were then split into three groups and performed to get a spot in one of two chairs from their assigned judges in order to move on to the semifinals, a change from the usual direct trip to the finals of the competition.
“We added a third night to the show,” Barbati said. “Last year, we turned away so many potential audience members at the door, and we wanted to give the crowd a chance to turn over. This third night will also give the students an extra level of competition, and give performers a chance to prove consistency during the competition.”
By the end of the night, each judge found their two semifinalists, with the exception of Barbati, who won a “wild card,” which gave him the opportunity to choose a third performer to bring to the semifinals. For Knights, freshman Chloe McSwain and senior Alexis Shearer were selected to move on to the semifinals; freshman Shamiea Thompson and junior Caleb Holt received seats from Hutchins; sophomores Shavaughn Scarlett and Amanda Borell earned seats from Barbati, with senior Amari Johnson getting the nod for the wild card spot.
A friend of semifinalist Scarlett, sophomore clinical psychology major Laeuna Chisolm, was in the crowd to see her perform and earn her chair to the semifinals. “It was really amazing to see her out there,” Chisolm said.
“That’s my best friend, I’m really proud of her.”
The auditions brought in a full crowd at the Yvonne theater, with over 1,000 people watching it live on Facebook.
Junior psychology major David Pelle said the show was “Really motivating. It was my second time coming, and I had a lot of fun.”
The R Factor Semifinals will be held on Sept. 28, and the finals of the competition will be held on Sept. 29, both in the Yvonne Theater.
Published in the 9/19/18 edition.