Mizzou Idol electrifies campus

The winner will receive a free trip to audition for American Idol.

Sophomore Victor Lee auditions for a position in the final lineup for Mizzou Idol. Lee was placed as a wildcard contestant, and text voting by audience members on the night of the event will determine whether he is able to compete alongside the other finalists. Courtesy of the Department of Student Activities' College Music Committee

Fifteen finalists. Four judges. One winner. One grand prize. Sound familiar?

It's not American Idol, but it's a close second and possibly the most buzzed about event on campus.

Created to give students an opportunity to showcase their talent and pursue their dreams at the same time, Mizzou Idol has now become what some say will be the biggest event of the year. And with a prize as grand as an all-expenses-paid trip to audition in front of the American Idol judges, they might be right.

Katie Bickley, Missouri Students Association College Music Committee chairwoman and the "brain" of Mizzou Idol, said she thought of the idea one day while "chillin' " in Spanish class.

"More people can sing than play in a band," Bickley said.

Bickley, along with the College of Music and the MSA Department of Student Affairs usually host MU's "Battle of the Bands" and decided to switch things up to appeal to more students.

"We can hit more of a niche market, appeal to more people and include more students," Bickley said.

With that, she set out to get Mizzou Idol out of her head and onto a stage. Auditions were held until last week and 15 finalists along with five wildcard contestants were chosen.

"It was so hard narrowing the contestants down," Bickley said. "Mizzou has got a lot of talent."

Doors open for the final showdown 6 p.m. Thursday in Jesse Hall. Bickley said the audience would be a big part of the final show.

"They'll get to text in who they want to win using text-to-vote software," Bickley said.

The audience will also be responsible for picking the honorable mention, whose prize is also quite grand -- an office party at the Déjà Vu Comedy Club.

Local Columbia businesses, including Cold Stone Creamery, have donated prizes to the audience as well, which will hopefully increase the turnout.

Bickley said they sought a diverse group of contestants, to "hit every corner on campus, from freshman to seniors" and they succeeded.

One contestant, sophomore Evan Cottrell, whose choice instrument is a guitar, just made one of his own songs available on iTunes, according to the Mizzou Idol Web site.

With ranging classes, genre choices and vocalist styles, the competition is tough. The College Music Committee hopes this will be a campus favorite and Mizzou Idol will come back for years to come.

Each audition was recorded and the committee is working on possible airtime scheduling on MUTV/Channel 23 Columbia. Bickley said they want everyone to feel "like a star."

"It's an $800 all expense paid trip to audition for American Idol," Bickley said. "If we can give the money to someone to pursue their dreams, that's what it's about."

Junior Paige Sommerer, who auditioned and will be competing as a finalist, agreed.

"Singing and performing is how I want to spend the rest of my life," she said on the Mizzou Idol Web site. "Every audition is a personal growing experience, one step closer to my dream."

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