KRYSTEN MASSA / THE STATESMAN
Erynn McLeod, above, a sophomore music major, was deemed the winner of Stony Brook University’s Stony Brook Idol with her rendition of Carrie Underwood’s song “Blown Away.” The judges included Dr. Laura Valente, dean of residential education, Timothy Ecklund, dean of students and the winner of last year’s Stony Brook Idol, Melanie Ellner.  KRYSTEN MASSA / THE STATESMAN

On Wednesday, April 22 on the Staller Steps, the finalists for this year’s Stony Brook Idol sang for the students’ votes. Erynn McLeod, a sophomore music major, won it all when she blew away the audience and judges with a performance of Carrie Underwood’s “Blown Away.”

This finale began at 1 p.m. and the weather was ideal for the occasion. The grassy steps were filled with students enthusiastic to hear the talent.

This year’s judges were the trio of Dr. Laura Valente, dean of residential education, Timothy Ecklund, dean of students and last years SB Idol winner Melanie Ellner.

They judges gave feedback after every performance, but this year, the ultimate decision process was a bit different. Instead of the judges choosing the winner, the audience voted. To vote, students logged into the SB Idol Facebook page.

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The competition was steep this year and each contestant brought their own unique style to the event. James Dougherty came in second place after he sang his rendition of “What I’ve Done” by Linkin Park. Ecklund said that Dougherty had the “emotional-rocker thing going on” and that he brought good emotion into the song and gave it his all.

“I was nervous, because I didn’t know how that was going to be accepted. Especially on the steps outside,” Dougherty said about his song choice. “But I chose it because I felt like it was different and I wanted to do something that wasn’t what everyone else was doing.”

Another common theme for the competition was powerful female singers. Two students chose to sing Beyoncé songs and one chose a Jessie J song.

Khairika Al Sinani sang Beyoncé’s “Love On Top.” She began to really belt it toward the end of the song, which received a strong response from the crowd. Hiba Hashim also channeled Beyoncé, singing “Listen,” made popular by the movie “Dreamgirls.” Hashim had a more raspy voice compared to the types of artists who usually sing the song, but that did not stop her from completely owning it. Valente actually admitted to crying during the performance.

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“You gave it every ounce of emotion it deserved,” Valente said.

Matthew Paige was the only other male contestant. He took a different approach from rocker-dude Dougherty, choosing instead to sit on stage with his keyboard and perform an original song, titled “Don’t Run Away.” His soothing voice captivated the crowd. After he performed, Ecklund expressed his approval, saying “John Legend, look out!”

The host for the event was Joe Rock from WBAB radio station. Rock lost count of the amount of times that he has helped with this event.

“I thought the talent was amazing,” Rock said. “I kind of feel like more people are starting younger, which I am really encouraged by and I think it shows at the level that they have when they get to college.”

After McLeod was announced the winner her friends and fans ran off of the Staller steps to go hug her, followed by a crowd of people who went to congratulate and hug their friends who were in the competition.

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“I feel amazing, that was the best feeling ever.” McLeod said after winning it all. As the first-place winner, McLeod receives a $300 Seawolves gift card and the opportunity to perform at the Shirley Strum Kenny Student Arts Festival closing ceremony.

This was McLeod’s first time involved in SB Idol and she was in shock that she won.

“I practice a lot and I picked a song that I felt really connected to,” McLeod said about her song choice. “I’m just so, so happy that I had this opportunity and I was so blessed to perform with so many other amazing singers and I feel so lucky.”

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