For the 13th year, Northern Virginia Community College brought together a community of talented students for NOVA Idol 2016 at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center at the Alexandria Campus.
During the main event on April 7, Loudoun County High School’s Liesl Michelle Mattar was named the 2016 NOVA Idol high school winner and Carolina Fuenzalida won the 2016 NOVA Idol title. First-year NOVA student Bree Verrill took home runner up, followed by Matt Cook in third place.
After more than 250 auditions across all six campuses and a number of auditions for the high school portion of the competition, semi-finalist judges narrowed down the contestants to 12 finalists – 10 NOVA students and two high school students – who competed for the title, generous cash prizes and recording studio time.
High school winner Mattar sang Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind,” and Carolina Fuenzalida rocked the crowd with a rendition of Journey’s “Separate Ways.” Mattar is a longtime singer at church and school, and Fuenzalida – a mother of four – has been performing for many years, including all over Chile and in night clubs in Miami.
Local musicians who have gained national recognition for their talent and work in the industry judged the competition. Judges included Greg Schuckerman, a tenor saxophonist and former NOVA College Board member; Lori Williams, lead vocalist of her self-titled Washington, D.C. based jazz ensemble and longtime music teacher in D.C. public schools; John Leslie, a professional saxophonist; Sara Sturm, former American Idol contestant (Season 15); Shirleta Settles, a vocalist and entertainer and; Rayvon Owen, who placed 4th in Season 14 of American Idol.
Assistant Dean of Communication Studies and Theatre and NOVA Idol Coordinator Brenda Lewis-Holmes said NOVA Idol was organized to give students a platform to showcase their talents and have a good time.
This year’s show also allowed for non-singing talents to participate in the preshow, which included performances by the Manassas Park Cougar Drumline, NOVA’s Favorite Dancer Darian Iida, a documentary on NOVA Idol created by NOVA student Erblin Nushi and the band Texas Chainsaw Horns.
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Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through the Extended Learning Institute. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.