Nine contestants remain after SF State Voice battle rounds

Gabi Cavassa and Sean Thompson open the show with their rendition of

Gabi Cavassa and Sean Thompson open the show with their rendition of “Ain’t No Sunshine,” at SF State’s Voice Battle Rounds Wednesday Oct. 17, 2013 in Jack Adams Hall. Photo by Kate O’Neal / Xpress

While the second stage of SF State’s Voice competition was billed as “The Battle Round,” there was an air of companionship and goodwill among the former teammates turned opponents, making the event seem like less of a battle, and more of a goodbye.

The event, that took place in Jack Adams Hall Oct. 16, pitted two members of the same team in a head-to-head showcase of their vocal talents, and gave the judges a chance to decide which performer should move on to the next round of the competition.

After given two weeks to prepare a routine with a coach-appointed partner, the performers hit the stage. The night was filled with stunning performances from all, with acts such as Sean Thompson and Gabi Cavassa’s slow and soulful rendition of “Ain’t No Sunshine.” Jessica Napierski and Nicole Gabel got the crowd hollering throughout their performance of “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World.”

Judge Shaye Morin provided an interesting matchup that paired Kai Santiago, a sociology major who has been singing since he was five years old, against Kimi Hariri, who when asked about any experience as a singer replied simply “In the shower?”

“Kimi just has a natural talent to her,” Santiago said. “She could of not told me that was her first performance two weeks ago and I would have believed it.”

These disparities made for an interesting performance between the two singers. Santiago’s experience was showcased through the immense control over his voice that he exhibited throughout his performance, while Hariri, whose booming voice often overpowered Santiago’s while the two sang in unison, gave viewers a glimpse of her raw talent. Despite both singers receiving loud cheers, and praise from the judges, it was ultimately Hariri who was chosen to advance to the third round.

“It boosted my confidence that I’ve gotten this far, so I’m very happy,” Hariri said.

After all 16 contestants had performed, the judges were burdened with the task of choosing two members of their own team to be eliminated from the contest. As the contestants were called to the stage, an air of unease descended upon the judges table, who voiced their displeasure at the task at hand.

“The problem with picking between four great artists is you’re all so good,” said judge Christa Laosantos, addressing everyone standing on the stage.

After a diplomatic round of rock-paper-scissors to decide the order in which judges were able to steal a contestant who was cut from a different team, the decisions were made, leaving a total of nine singers to advance to the next round.

“Over the two weeks we got to know each other, and I really loved them,” said Morin. “It broke my heart in two to have to send both of my guys home.”

Morin has personal experience with elimination, after she was cut in the second round of last year’s SF State’s Voice competition. Because of this, she went beyond her required duties in order to provide a little extra comfort to those on her team who would eventually face elimination.

“Before the show I wrote them all a letter, and I gave them all a candy bar, telling them how good I think they all are, and how sweet they are, and just how much I don’t want to send any of them home.” said Morin. “I didn’t want any of them to feel bad at all.”

Even with eliminations spelling the end for some, the contest played host to new beginnings as well. Although contestants Yannick Bretschneider and Jacqueline Corona were paired against each other during the battle round, they hope to work on music together again outside the Voice.

“I really enjoyed working with Jackie, so I immediately knew that I would want to do more music if she also wanted to, so that’s kinda what I threw out,” said Bretschneider.

While Bretschneider was cut from team Ariana, judge Steven Alvarez jumped at the chance to steal him for his team, splitting the former teammates, but allowing both to advance to the next round.

“The whole time I didn’t feel like it was a competition, I really enjoyed working with him,” said Corona. “I was really hoping for him, or me to get picked on another team if we were eliminated. So it happened so I’m happy about that.”

The final competition is free to attend and will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 23, in Jack Adams Hall, where each contestant will choose one song to perform. After the performance, students can vote online for their favorite performers at the Student Life website.

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