Last Thursday night, the College of Music and the Arts hosted annual vocal competition Final Cut in Wynn Amphitheater where 12 finalists performed in front of celebrity judges for a prize of a vocal recording session.

Final Cut was hosted in the Wynn Amphitheater from 7:15 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. The show featured a four-piece band consisting of drums, guitar, bass and keyboard. The band served to accompany each performer during their portion of the evening.

APU students had the opportunity to audition for a spot in the finals a few weeks prior to the big event. Through a rigorous selection process, faculty of the College of Music and the Arts selected 12 finalists to participate in the live-audience and final event of the competition.

“I prepared for the audition by going through my phone and seeing what I liked to listen to,” Final Cut finalist Moxy Mohr said. “I figured that whatever I liked to sing, the judges would like too. The audition was two short segments of songs.”

Celebrity judges provided detailed, constructive advice for performers as well as selecting Aja Grant as the winner of Final Cut.

“The judges blew me away with their commentary and feedback,” Grant said. “It was so on time as well. I’ve taken every syllable spoken to me from everyone last night and locked it away in my safe place of goodness!”

Mohr expressed gratefulness for the judges’ succinct comments.

“They honed-in on what I already knew were my weak points and reinforced what I need to work on,” she said. “In the future, I’ll be able to work more specifically on perfecting those areas of my voice and style.”

Each finalist had the opportunity to choose a song of their choice to perform in front of celebrity judges and a packed crowd. Some performers covered well-known pop hits, while others covered more unfamiliar tunes with their own creative style. One finalist even wrote and performed an original composition.

Final Cut 2017 winner Aja Grant performed a creative rendition of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy,” made famous by musical collaboration Danger Mouse and CeeLo Green. Grant sang to impress, receiving a standing-ovation from nearly everyone in the amphitheater, including all three celebrity judges.

“The show surpassed what I had hoped and imagined it would be,” Grant said. “It was my goal to win, but God allowed me to win in a different way that evening. He showed me a new side of His love that night, and that was the best part about it.”

Second and third place winners Melanie Tierce and Astyn Turrentine both impressed all three celebrity judges. Their unique voices fascinated a crowd full of audience members attentively listening and engaging with their performances.

Audience member and APU music student Roxanne Watson appreciated the vocal competition for its music quality.

“I really enjoyed the level of musicianship brought by all of the contestants and how diverse the group was in terms of style and song choice,” Watson said. “I especially enjoyed seeing how they all made the songs their own.”

Final Cut serves to share a fraction of the music talent at APU with the rest of the community, providing a deserving musician with a recording session led by professionals in the music industry.

“The Final Cut experience is great for performers – it strikes a line between needing to know what a trained musician learns, and just being able to have fun and perform,” Mohr said.

The College of Music and the Arts encourages APU community to join the Final Cut family and attend next year’s competition for another round of outstanding musicianship and great talent.