On Saturday, Nov. 12, from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., the Drew University Music Society held their Drew U Got Talent event in the Concert Hall in the Dorothy Young Center for the Arts. The competition featured 11 musical performances that spanned a wide range of instrumentation and genres.
Drew University Music Society president Maddie Ortiz (‘24) introduced each of the contestants before they performed their songs. The first contestant was Laya Ranganathan (‘26), who sang “Cars Outside” by James Arthur. Next, Samantha Haase (‘25) delivered an electrifying vocal performance of “Rise Up” by the R&B singer Andra Day.
Marko Klug (’25) and Dhruv Erry (‘24) performed “Bell Bottom Blues” by Derek and the Dominoes on guitar, with Klug singing the lyrics. Then, Drew University Music Society vice president Brynn McCarthy (‘25) sang the upbeat disco tune “Tragedy” by the Bees Gees, dancing to the music as well. Next, Kurt Miller (‘24) gave a vocal and guitar performance of “Hands Open” by the rock band Snow Patrol.
The on-campus band The Automatics––consisting of Dean Graham (‘24), Matt Shermann (‘24) and Daniel Wu (‘24)––performed their original song “She Walks Through the Forest,” with Shermann singing, Shermann and Graham on guitar and Wu on keyboard. The song featured several notable guitar riffs. Next, Joey Holzman (‘24) and Erry performed Tom Petty’s slow-tempo ballad “Free Fallin’” on guitar, with Holzman singing the lyrics. Holzman’s melodic voice and Erry’s and Holzman’s guitar solos captured the romantic spirit of the song. Then, Lucia DelGrande (‘26) sang “Enough for You” by pop singer Olivia Rodrigo.
Jocelyn Freeman (‘25) gave a vocal and ukulele performance of her original song “What Will They Think.” The song comes from a WWII musical that Freeman is working on, and it was written from the point of view of a woman hiding in a bomb shelter. Freeman truly personified this character, partly through an effective use of dynamics. Next, Eden Hebron (‘25) sang “Heartbreak Anniversary” by Giveon. Finally, Jinseok Rho (‘23), a South Korean pastor and student at Drew’s Theological School, gave a flawless piano performance of “How Great Thou Art” by Carl Boberg.
After the last performance, audience members voted for first, second and third place winners via a Google Form. Voting lasted for several suspenseful minutes, and then Ortiz announced the winners. Freeman won third place, The Automatics won second place and Rho won first place. Each winner received a Squishmallow as a prize.
“I’m very glad that I came in third place,” Freeman said. “I’m excited to share my music and my writing with Drew, and I’m looking forward to continuing to do so. I’m so proud of the other performers because everybody put in the confidence and work they needed onstage, and I’m very happy with how it turned out.”
“I think it was a good performance for us,” said Graham, sharing his thoughts on The Automatics’ performance. “This was the first time this song was played electric. We played it acoustic at a Halloween event a week ago. I liked how it sounded electrically.”
“Drew U Got Talent was a great time for me to play a piano piece for people at Drew,” said Rho. He emphasized that the message of the piece is that “God loves you always.”
All of the contestants gave stunning performances and truly showcased the immense musical talent at Drew, as evidenced by the raucous applause that followed each performance. Make sure to follow @drewuniversity.musicsociety on Instagram for more information on their upcoming events!
Featured Image courtesy of Abigail Goldman