AFTER THE ROAR of the crowd dies down, a student on stage lures chords out of her guitar, singing the lyrics she's written in a small, pure voice. Behind her, real-time appraisals from the audience appear one after another on a large screen.
She's one of 16 finalists vying for the title of Miami Idol at Miami University (OH). If she wins, she'll receive a Microsoft Xbox 360 with Kinect, courtesy of a soft drink vendor. But that's not why she sings…
Next month, 150 Miami ticket holders will enjoy beverages and a dessert buffet of cookies, tarts, tuxedo strawberries, mini cupcakes and cheesecakes; t-shirt giveaways; music provided by a local d.j. and a performance by the student a cappella group. It's the university's take on TV's wildly popular “American Idol.”
The program starts with auditions in the four dining halls, evaluated by a trio of Housing & Dining, Recreation and Business Services managers on voice, pitch, originality, personality and overall performance. The top four contestants from each audition advance to a finale where from the three highest-scoring performers is chosen by votes texted from the phones of those in the audience.
“It's not just another concert.” says Mark Andrea, manager of computer systems and marketing for student dining. “A lot of students write original songs. This gives them a chance to showcase their talent and share it with their peers.”
The first Miami Idol three years ago didn't charge for the finale, says Karen Recker, associate director of Dining and Culinary Support Services. But by the second year she'd determined that $12 per person was the sweet spot to ensure a full house.