Atkinson student wins 2005 York Idol contest

Ayla Rodney-Simard

Look out Canada, the 2005 York Idol has been crowned and she’s ready to take on the best of the best in the provincial Campus Idol competition in London, Ont. in March.

In front of a packed house at the Underground on Jan. 26, Ayla Rodney-Simard, right, a first-year student in Atkinson’s Creative Arts and Cultural Expression Program, claimed the top prize and the right to represent York in the provincial finals at the University of Western Ontario. As with its television namesake, York’s Idol contest was decided by audience poll.

Three first-year students from the Faculty of Arts also made the final four. Second place went to Samantha Stephenson, who is majoring in humanities & African studies, and third place went to Suzanne Stewart, who is majoring in English & European studies. Lindsay Stone, who has yet to choose her major, finished fourth.

“The event was a smash success,” said York is U’s Jeremy Greenberg, coordinator of student alumni program at York. “The finals were so packed that dozens of people were left standing or sitting on the floor.”

Suzanne StewartSamantha StephensonRight: Samantha Stephenson and, far right, Suzanne Stewart

“It was impressive to see the tremendous talent of our York students,” said Sylvia Schippke, assistant vice-president, student community development, one of three York staff members who served as judges in the competition. “Any of the top candidates would be considered an up-and-coming star.” The other judges were Debbie Hansen, senior adviser, employee relations, Department of Human Resources, and Michelle MacMartin, a second-year student in the Faculty of Arts. Tom Kemp, of talent agency S.L. Feldman & Associates, helped officiate the second round on Jan. 19 and Rob Castle, executive director of the York Student Centre, helped out in the first round, Jan. 12.

Ayla-SamanthaLeft: Ayla Rodney-Simard and Samantha Stephenson sing a duet

Students performed a cappella in two rounds of auditions, singing their own choice of song, but selected from a short list of songs for the finals. Judges determined which 12 students would compete in the final round and then chose the four finalists for the audience poll. “Some people brought signs and held them up for their favourites,” said Greenberg. “There was even a WILL YOU MARRY ME sign for one of the heart-throb guys.”

“The contestants got very serious, not only in their singing but in their style and stage presence,” said Hansen. “They were amazing and they worked very hard. I believe that York will be well represented at Campus Idol.”

York’s Idol competition was sponsored by York is U, the York Student Centre, Excalibur and TravelCuts.