Time to shine

The time has finally come. You voted, (or at least a handful of you did), and these are your six finalists for the third annual Marquette Superstar airing on MUTV.

If you haven’t seen Marquette Superstar yet, think “American Idol” with a campus twist. The candidates are all students, and the four judges work for Marquette Student Media.

A pool of 20 students competed in this year’s auditions, held  Feb. 16. After clinching one of the 12 official spots, candidates sang short segments of hit songs every week, were critiqued by the judges, and then put their fates in the hands of online voters, who determined which three were sent home each week.

After three episodes, the field of 12 has been narrowed to six. The total viewer votes since the last episode, which aired before spring break, will determine the winner.

We sat down with the finalists to find out who they are, what they sing, and why you should go to www.marquettesuperstar.com to catch previous episodes and cast your vote before the polls close at noon tomorrow.

The finale will be performed in front of a live audience Saturday at the Haggerty Museum of Art at 7 p.m. And now, without further adieu, your Marquette Superstars!

Bennett Kerwin

Hometown: Sturgeon Bay, Wis.

Year: Freshman

Major: Communication Studies

Why did you try out for Marquette Superstar?

“I’m in the Gold N’ Blues, the a cappella group, and some of us just decided to do it. We did it as a little group thing.”

What song are you planning to sing for the finale? Why did you pick it?

“I don’t know yet. … I’ll probably just work out whatever.”

What is your favorite song you have performed so far?

“I sang ‘Somebody to Love,’ by Queen, and then I sang ‘Under the Bridge’ by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. For my audition I sang ‘Halo’ by Beyoncé, and I think ‘Halo’ is my favorite out of those three. … It’s just the song that I listen to, you know? I can relate.”

What has your Marquette Superstar experience been like?

“It’s been pretty fun. … It’s nice because it’s really relaxed and there’s not a lot of competition because everyone’s really friendly.”

Do you feel like a celebrity on campus?

“Um, like, no.”

How did you get into singing?

“In elementary school, I used to do all the concerts, and then I was in choir in middle school and high school.”

What is your favorite musical genre or artist?

“My favorite genre is probably like pop-folk, kind of like acoustic.”

Is there any artist who has influenced your singing style?

“I don’t think so because I’m just trying to go for a big ‘wow’ number.”

What are your plans for the future? Any “American Idol” ambitions?

“No, I’ll probably stick around in the Gold N’ Blues.”

What advice do you have for next year’s candidates?

“Just realize that it’s supposed to be fun. No one’s in it to really become a superstar.”

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Grace O’Brien

Hometown: Indianapolis, Ind.

Year: Freshman

Major: Psychology

Why did you try out for Marquette Superstar?

“Actually, my best friend sent me the e-mail and kind of forced me to do it. I didn’t really want to do it, but it was a good opportunity, and I’m glad I ended up doing it.”

What song are you planning to sing for the finale? Why did you pick it?

“I have not (decided). It’s going to be an interesting choice, I have a feeling.”

What is your favorite song you have performed so far?

“I like them all, but I guess ‘Bubbly’ (by Colbie Caillat), the one that I just performed, would be my favorite.”

What has your Marquette Superstar experience been like?

“I’ve never competed before with singing except for once in the fourth grade, but I really enjoy it. … It’s a different perspective on how to see the musical world, and I’ve enjoyed it so far. All the people are great. It’s a really fun experience.”

Do you feel like a celebrity on campus?

“No, I’m just a regular student who loves to sing.”

How did you get into singing?

“I’ve been in choir since I was in fourth grade, and it’s just something I wanted to keep up with, so I got involved with the choir at Marquette. I don’t know, I just love singing.”

What is your favorite musical genre or artist?

“I love indie music, and right now, I guess my favorite would be Alexi Murdoch.”

Is there any artist who has influenced your singing?

“Yeah, I would say a little bit (referring to indie music).”

What are your plans for the future? Any “American Idol” ambitions?

“I don’t know if I’m pursuing anything with singing, but I enjoy doing it, so as long as I can, if I have time, I will be doing little things for singing.”

What advice do you have for next year’s candidates?

“Just do your best and be the best that you can be, and don’t feel bad if you don’t get it.”

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Alysa McGovern

Hometown: Appleton, Wis.

Year: Sophomore

Major: Biomedical Sciences

Why did you try out for Marquette Superstar?

“I tried out last year as a freshman, and I got cut the first round, so I came back with a vengeance.”

What song are you planning to sing for the finale? Why did you pick it?

“I think I’m going to sing ‘Black Horse and the Cherry Tree’ by KT Tunstall. I sang that song before. I just really like that song. It’s a fun one to perform. It’s just really upbeat, so I’ll be able to move around more and have fun.”

What is your favorite song that you have performed so far?

“Last week I really liked doing ‘Umbrella’ by Rihanna because my favorite music to listen to is R&B and hip-hop, so it is fun to be able to perform that.”

What has your Marquette Superstar experience been like?

“It has been a lot of fun. I’ve never taken it really seriously or anything. I did a lot of singing in high school, and it was fun to get back to that and to meet other people who really enjoy singing as much as I do.”

Do you feel like a celebrity on campus?

“No, not really. Because it’s really only on the Internet, only my friends really watch it and vote. I have friends that were like, ‘I saw you! You were so good!’ but besides that, no.”

How did you get into singing?

“I’ve been singing forever. It was the first thing I started to do. My mom always says I sang before I talked. It’s one of the things I’ve liked to do most, and I’m in the a cappella group on campus (Gold N’ Blues).”

What is your favorite musical genre or artist?

“Well, besides R&B and hip-hop, my favorite singer ever is Michael Bublé. I just like the old, crooner kind of style. It’s really romantic. I know that is so opposite (from R&B and hip-hop).”

Is there any artist who has influenced your singing?

“I usually have my own style, but some vocalists that I really idolize would be Christina Aguilera, Whitney Houston, Beyoncé — she’s awesome. Just really powerful female voices.”

What are your plans for the future? Any “American Idol” ambitions?

“I’ve almost auditioned for AI quite a few times, but I haven’t been able to make it there. I don’t know, maybe this summer I’ll actually make it there.”

What advice do you have for next year’s candidates?

“Go for it and kind of ham it up. If you are going to perform, do it all the way because people really enjoy those kinds of performances. … Don’t hold anything back.”

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Cara MacLean

Hometown: Detroit, Mich.

Year: Junior

Major: Advertising, marketing minor

Why did you try out for Marquette Superstar?

“I sang and did a lot of theater in high school, and then when I got to Marquette I wasn’t really involved with anything theater-wise and I didn’t really sing anywhere, so I just really missed singing and thought it would be fun to do.”

What song are you planning to sing for the finale? Why did you pick it?

“I actually haven’t decided yet. I know (the group is) picking one song all together, but I haven’t picked one individual song.”

What is your favorite song you have performed so far?

“Probably the last one, ‘If I Ain’t Got You,’ by Alicia Keys. … I finally loosened up a little bit more, and I feel like you can put a lot of emotion into that song.”

What has your Marquette Superstar experience been like?

“It’s been really fun. I enjoy preparing a song each week. It’s kind of comical going in front of the judges because they always have interesting comments … and the group of kids are really fun to be around each week.”

Do you feel like a celebrity on campus?

“Yeah, a little bit, because people will walk up and they’ll say, ‘Oh, I voted for you,’ or they’ll ask me if the video’s posted from the week before.”

How did you get into singing?

“I started with voice lessons in seventh grade, and it was just something I wanted to do because I didn’t play an instrument and … there was a big seventh and eighth grade play at my school that I wanted to try out for. … I just took them as a hobby but it was kind of in preparation for the play coming up.”

What is your favorite musical genre or artist?

“That’s so hard to say because I like anything from Frank Sinatra to Beyoncé, hip-hop, whatever’s playing on the radio, but I would have to say maybe John Mayer or Maroon 5, kind of relaxed.”

Is there any artist who has influenced your singing?

“I like to sing pop songs — those are fun to sing — so Mariah Carey. I also enjoy singing Colbie Caillat, but I wouldn’t necessarily say I have a style because I like to sing things all across the board.”

What are your plans for the future? Any “American Idol” ambitions?

“I thought about trying out — I think it’d be really fun, some of my friends told me I should do it — but I don’t know if I’ll actually do it in the future.”

What advice do you have for next year’s candidates?

“Try to loosen up as early on as possible because it’s a little intimidating when you go into a studio to film something and there’s people judging you. Then there are also people watching you that you’re supposedly competing against, so it’s a little nerve-racking, but if you can just imagine yourself not singing in front of judges, then it helps.”

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Morgan White

Hometown: Birmingham, Ala.

Year: Junior

Major: Broadcast and Electronic Communication

Why did you try out for Marquette Superstar?

“I actually just auditioned on a whim. I’m actually on staff for MUTV, specifically under the entertainment department, and while I was helping with the actual auditions, I just decided to join in the fun.”

What song are you planning to sing for the finale? Why did you pick it?

“I’m pretty set on singing ‘Right As Rain’ by Adele. I am obsessed with her voice because of her jazziness and low resonance. I’d like to think I sound something similar to her.”

What is your favorite song that you have performed so far?

“My favorite song I have performed so far was definitely my audition. I sang the acoustic version of Lady Gaga’s ‘Poker Face.’ Since it was just the audition, and I wasn’t really expecting a lot, I just channeled my inner Gaga and went for it.”

What has your Marquette Superstar experience been like?

“It’s actually been kind of annoying. Not because of being on Superstar, because I love all of the other contestants, but because I am on Superstar I’m not allowed to do anything to help the show. … I’m on staff for MUTV, so it seems like I should be doing something behind the scenes.”

Do you feel like a celebrity on campus?

“Not more than I normally do. I still have to wrestle through my apartment door in the morning to get to class. It’s kind of obnoxious — all the fans. Kidding!”

How did you get into singing?

“I actually took voice lessons in the fifth grade, but it was when I landed a lead role in my high school’s spring musical that I found my love for singing and performing. I was traditionally a jock in high school and played sports all year around, but my senior year I gave up a semester on track to be in the musical. Not a bad choice in my opinion, but my track coaches were not pleased.”

What is your favorite musical genre or artist?

“I really enjoy acoustic folk music. Or alternative folk, if you will. My favorite band is The Avett Brothers, but you can catch me listening to other things also. I have a wide range of music that I enjoy, excluding all country, opera and most rap.”

Is there any artist who has influenced your singing?

“Definitely any woman with a deep voice, sort of jazzy and original. In a perfect world I would be Beyoncé, but in real life I think I’m kind of a mixture between Adele, Zooey Deschanel, Amy Winehouse, Diane Birch and Chris Martin. Yes, I went there.”

What are your plans for the future? Any “American Idol” ambitions?

“No, no. I don’t think I have that kind of talent. I’ll just stick to stuff around school, and if I ever become famous, I’ll remember my days as a contestant on Marquette Superstar and try to persuade my agent to find some record label to sign me.”

What advice do you have for next year’s candidates?

“If you think you got something, go for it. Just make sure you’re having fun and not take the competition part too seriously.”

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Morgan Rossi

Hometown: Barrington, Ill.

Year: Freshman

Major: Corporate Communication

Why did you try out for Marquette Superstar?

“I love singing, and any chance to sing on campus I try to grasp. I was so happy to find out I made the initial cut, and have been fortunate enough to make it as far as I have. The experience has been absolutely awesome.”

What song are you planning to sing for the finale? Why did you pick it?

“‘You’re The Best Thing (That Ever Happened to Me)’ by Gladys Knight. … (The song) reminds me of all the wonderful people I’ve met at Marquette University so far. … College has this mixed-up way of throwing a whole mess of people into the same jumble and hoping that they’ll come out alive. Everyone soon finds out that the best way to do that is to learn to groove with each other.”

What is your favorite song that you have performed so far?

“‘Midnight Train to Georgia’ by Gladys Knight … again! In my hometown, we had a similar contest, and I won with this song in the finale.”

What has your Marquette Superstar experience been like?

“It has been absolutely awesome. I love all the people that are involved with it — the people behind the scenes and the contestants themselves. I’m going to be so sad when it’s over.”

Do you feel like a celebrity on campus?

“Haha, kind of! A few people I don’t know came up to me in the Brew Bayou the other day and complimented me on my performance after recognizing me from the online video. It was very flattering.”

How did you get into singing?

“I’ve been singing since second grade. I used to be obsessed with the movie ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ mostly because I loved the song ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow.’ I secretly watched that part of the movie over and over again until I memorized all of the words. … High school was when I really started getting serious about vocal performance, and I started taking private voice lessons.”

What is your favorite musical genre or artist?

“Bruce Springsteen. … The Boss was my first concert when I was thirteen, and I went with my two cousins who love him just as much as I do. I snuck a sunflower into the concert with me — because they’re his favorite flower — and gave it to him during one of his famous guitar solos. Ever since then, he has named us three ‘The Flower Girls’ and has proceeded to sing entire ballads to us, dedicate songs to us and even let us sing in the microphone whenever we’re able to make it to a concert.”

Is there any artist who has influenced your singing?

“No artist in particular. I tend to listen to music that isn’t necessarily good for my type of style. I have a really powerful voice and pretty big range, so singing something that accentuates those qualities is key.”

What are your plans for the future? Any “American Idol” ambitions?

“I’m still a freshman, so I have quite a few school years ahead of me. … My mom’s been trying to get me out to an audition since I was sixteen, but we’ll have to just wait and see what life has in store for me.”

What advice do you have for next year’s candidates?

“If you’re contemplating auditioning, DO IT! Although it can be pretty intimidating, it turned out to be a really awesome experience for me, and I know I would be super bummed if I had passed it up.”

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Judges’ picks

Pat Creed, senior in the College of Communication

Student Media Department: Marquette Radio, former program director

Which “American Idol” judge are you most like?

“They put me on the end for the same reason they put Simon on the end. I don’t like to be phony. I try to be truthful because of how I feel. This past episode got me in a little hot water because I had told a contestant that their luck had run out. I compare myself to Simon because I tell it like it is. I also like to have a lot of fun up there, and I hope that comes through when people watch it online.”

Can you comment on the six finalists?

“I’ll give you my top three: Morgan White, Alysa McGovern and Grace O’Brien. That’s not saying that the other three aren’t great.”

Matt Sweeney, junior in the College of Communication

Student Media Department: MUTV, advertising and commercial instructor

Which “American Idol” judge are you most like?

“I’ve been compared to Randy, but I think I’m definitely Paula because I have a hard time criticizing people. I’m just way too nice. Since they are perfect strangers, I’m always polite and nice to them. Some would say I’m overly nice. I’ve definitely been criticized for that. I actually think I’m a good combo of the two, Randy and Paula.”

Can you comment on the six finalists?

“They all have extremely powerful voices, and that is something that we are looking for in this competition. My top three would be Morgan Rossi, Morgan White and Alysa McGovern.”

Nicole Lindell, senior in the College of Business Administration

Student Media Department: Marquette Radio, program director

Which “American Idol” judge are you most like?

“I’m not sure which ‘American Idol’ judge I’m most like. Maybe Paula? I really shouldn’t be allowed to judge anyone’s singing abilities, so I try to stay nice.”

Can you comment on the six finalists?

“I think the winner is going to be one of the Morgans — either White or Rossi. They are both incredibly talented and versatile singers with great stage presence.”

Sara Martinez, senior in the College of Communication

Student Media Department: The Marquette Journal, editor-in-chief

Which “American Idol” judge are you most like?

“I don’t really watch ‘American Idol,’ so I don’t really know who I’d be. I try to tell the truth. I feel like I can be kind of harsh, but not like Simon. Judging’s a lot harder than you think when you’re sitting there doing the judging.”

Can you comment on the six finalists?

My top three would be the Morgans and Bennett (Kerwin). They are my favorites.

Judges’ comments about individual contestants

Of Morgan White:

Said Creed, “She has done several different genres, and she has adapted beautifully to all of them. We’ve had to do ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s and present, and she has hit them all on the mark. Her vocals are so unbelievably powerful … her personality is through the roof.”

Said Sweeney, “She also has a real knack for soul songs. She just has a very robust voice, and you can tell that this isn’t her first time singing in front of an audience.”

Said Martinez, “The Morgans are just vocal powerhouses.”

Of Alysa McGovern:

Said Creed, “Alysa, I don’t know what it is, has not been getting the votes, but that girl can sing. I absolutely love her voice.”

Said Sweeney, “I think she has shown tremendous confidence throughout the entire competition. Every performance since the audition has been a little bit more pressure, and she has just been totally cool and composed.”

Of Morgan Rossi:

Said Creed, “She is a great vocalist.”

Said Sweeney, “She’s got a mean set of pipes. She sounds like a soul singer out of the ‘60s, like Motown. I think she is just killing it.”

Of Bennett Kerwin:

Said Sweeney, “Bennett is a very strong singer and strong performer. He has been getting better and better with each performance, and I am looking forward to what he is going to bring to the final.”

Said Martinez, “Ben’s my favorite. He’s been my absolute favorite since the audition.”

Of Cara MacLean:

Said Sweeney, “Cara has a very pretty voice, and I think she is very technically proficient. I’ve said this before on the show, but she had a little trouble putting feeling and emotion into her voice, but she’s gotten a lot better. She has a good chance of winning.”

Said Martinez, “Cara’s probably the most popular.”

Of Grace O’Brien:

Said Creed, “She is small, but her voice is so full. Her voice is just fantastic, and she is very strong on the microphone. I have sort of a crush on her because her voice is super sexy. She has grace about her. She really feels the music, and it really does come out in her vocals — they are soulful and sexy.”

Said Sweeney, “Grace, she’s awesome. She’s another one who has just been awesome from the start. As soon as she auditioned, I knew she would be part of the finalists, and she has proven me right.”