Cyclone Voice showcases singing talents of ISU and multi-platinum recording artist


Brielle Tuttle

Odosasere Amadasun celebrates winning Cyclone Voice on April 13. She sang “Jealous” by Labrinth for her performance.

A nervous college singer watches a fellow competitor performing from backstage. When she walks onstage, she is apprehensive, but when she starts singing, there are immediate cheers from the crowd, and she feels like she is on cloud nine.

Cyclone Voice, Iowa State University’s annual singing competition, spotlighted acoustic performances, original songs and a celebrity host.

The event was put together by the Iowa State Student Union Board (SUB) at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union.

“The first performance [Sophia Cataldo] came out, and I was floored,” said Jillian Butner, a sophomore studying English and classical studies. “So flippin’ good–it got better and better.”

Odosasere Amadasun, a sophomore studying sociology, won the competition with her performance of “Jealous” by Labrinth.

“‘The winner, oh my God, I was crying by the end,” Butner said. “I had tears coming out.”

MAX, the celebrity host for the event, had a similar response to Amadasun’s performance and joked about canceling his part of the show and going home to not be compared to her. MAX is a multi-platinum recording artist and singer-songwriter.

MAX hosted Cyclone Voice and performed soon-to-be released song “Strings” for the first time on April 13. (Brielle Tuttle)

More than 30 people auditioned in the preliminary rounds last week, and 14 final contestants were selected to perform at Thursday’s event.

Three judges evaluated both the preliminary round and the final performance: Jen Brockpahler, director of the Ames Community Arts Council; Katie Haygood, board member of the Ames Choral Society; and Fred Love, Iowa State University communications specialist and a cowpunk singer-songwriter.

“What I was really impressed by was the sheer variety of styles and genres that all these super talented students represented,” Love said.

The second-place winner was Jonak Bhagawati, an international student from India who sang an original song in his native language, Assamese. It was called “Jibon,” which means “life.”

“I want to emphasize on the fact that music is not about the language but it’s about the feel,” Bhagawati said.

The third-place winner, Elise O’Regan, a senior majoring in women’s and gender studies, also performed an original song titled “Lies.” They accompanied their voice by playing the ukulele while sitting on a stool.

“It takes a lot of guts to come up here with an original; let’s give it a little more love,” MAX said after O’Regan’s performance.

While the judges were making their decision, MAX performed his setlist with his band including his hits “Blueberry Eyes” and “Lights Down Low.” Throughout his performance, he interacted with the audience through his dance moves, expressions and movement across the stage.

MAX also performed “Someday” and “Me and You Against the World,” which are songs from the Nickelodeon movie “Rags.” He dedicated these to Poni Okene, a sophomore studying psychology and one of SUB’s special events co-directors, who previously told him she loves the 2012 movie he starred in alongside Keke Palmer.

Okene planned and organized the competition with Christian Grensteiner, a junior studying event management and SUB’s other special events co-director.

After his performance, MAX announced the judges’ decisions: third place as O’Regan, second as Bhagawati and first place as Amadasun.

“It’s a tough choice, but I think what I came away with was there’s so much talent on this campus,” Love said.

When Amadasun heard her name called for first place, she said she could not believe what was happening. She described the experience as “so surreal” and “so cool.”

Amadasun also said she enjoyed interacting with MAX.

“He is just like one of us,” Amadasun said. “Just because he’s a celebrity doesn’t mean that he’s any different. He’s the actual best.”

Amadasun said she loved the experience and appreciated all the support she received and how everyone cheered each other on.

“Whenever I’m performing I walk around super nervous, but when I’m singing it’s like I’m on cloud nine; I love it every time,” Amadasun said.