Vocal Masterclass Discussion Thread For American Idol Season 8 Semi-Finalists: Group Three


Picture Courtesy Of AmericanIdol.Com

Picture Courtesy Of AmericanIdol.Com

On the evening of Tuesday, March 3rd, we will be treated to performances from each of the immensely talented singers in Group 3 of the semi-final rounds of American Idol Season 8.

Collectively, this will be our strongest group of singers and, off the top of my head, I can envision six of these singers who should progress to the Top 12.

However, as this show is totally based in reality, we know this won’t happen; therefore, we have to hope that the best of the best in this group do indeed succeed and are voted through to the Top 12.

Group Three Performers are: Alex Wagner-Trugman , Arianna Afsar, Felicia Barton , Jorge Nuñez, Ju’Not Joyner , Kendall Beard , Kristen McNamara , Lil Rounds, Nathaniel Marshall , Scott MacIntyre , Taylor Vaifanua and Von Smith .

The two-hour episode will feature individual performances by 12 singers and, following their performances at the end of the show, the viewers can call and/or text their votes for two hours.

Then, on Wednesday, March 4th, the results will be revealed to the public and the three top vote-getters will automatically earn a place in the coveted Top 12.

However, the road does not end there, as the American Idol judges will ask 8 or more singers to return for a special WildCard Show that will be aired on Thursday, March 5th. During this episode, the judges will have the final say on the remaining three singers to advance to the Top 12 and their decision will be announced on live television. How cool is that?

So, this is indeed a very exciting week – tons of Idol drama to keep all of us amused and gossiping on the various Message Boards and Blogs.

My wildcard picks as of Monday, March 2nd are: Ricky Braddy, Matt Giraud, Megan Joy Corkrey, Jasmine Murray and Mishavonna Henson. 

 LIVE UPDATE WILL COMMENCE ON TUESDAY AT 8:00 P.M. EASTERN TIME

Live Update:

I’m ready to go here. However, I am packing for a long trip home to Canada tomorrow and have to be up at dawn – or before. I can’t remember. I do know that it is very early or I will miss my plane. Therefore, my comments will be very brief and,after the show is over, I am off to dreamland or the plane leaves without me tomorrow!

Finally, Ryan is set to go! And he is now introducing the final Group of Twelve and our judges.

Von Smith is up first. He sings “You’re All I Need To Get By” by Marvin Gay and, boy, does he kick this one out of the ballpark. Great vocals – technically strong, although he has to watch the “mouth stretch” on the “ee” vowel, but, other than that, very amazing!

And, I love his soulful style-it was extremely liberated and genuine. Excellent performance! I would love to see him in the Top 12. He is a necessary component for this Top 12 – he is distinctive. Love him!

Taylor Vaifanua is going to perform “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keyes. Oh dear, she is nervous. The front part of this song was difficult for her, as he lower register wasn’t very centered. However, as the song moved along and she was able to expose her remarkable upper range, we gained a glimpse into her vocal potential. Not sure if this was the best song choice for her. Also, she looked a little awkward during this performance and, most probably, this was due to nerves. Too bad.

Alex Wagner-Trugman performs “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues” by Elton John. Great song choice, but not the strongest delivery of this song!  Certainly his heart was in this performance, but his vocals were not the the strongest in a technical sense.  And, performance-wise, he was very nervous and, as a result,  his style seemed  quite  erratic at times.

Arianna Afsar is set to sing the first Abba song ever to be performed on American Idol. The song, “The Winner Takes It All” is very tentatively performed by Arianna. She is so nervous and, because of this, her voice is really off center.  Oh dear – let it end for her very soon.  This is not good.    And such a strange, funereal arrangement!  She used to be a happy-go-lucky performer. What happened here?

Ju’Not Joyner  is up next and I hope he can brighten up this dreary showcase tonight.  He is singing “Hey There Delilah” and this was a wonderful performance. He showcased a vast array of nuances in this song – just beautiful!  In his undertstated and controlled way, he showcased the depth of his vocal artistry. He needs to take care of the technical end of his voice,  but his artistry was exceptional.

Kristen McNamara will be performing “Give Me One Reason” by Tracy Chapman and she sounds fabulous with a capital “F”.  This gal can sing in a serious way and the dark timbre of her voice is so gorgeous and distinctive. And what a range – super upper register climb at the end of her song!  She is a confident performer and she certainly has a sense of style.  I was totally surprised by this performance  – in a  good way.  Good work! Stellar!

Nathaniel Marshall is next to go and he is singing “I Would Do Anything For Love” by Meatloaf. This is a great song choice. I love my Meatloaf!   This song was wonderful, as it altered between fast and slow tempos, thus rendering an high degree of performance interest.

However, that being said, his voice seemed unfocused and uncentered – it never sounded very settled throughout this performance.  Nathaniel needs to work on his vocal technique so that his voice can flow smoothly and cleanly from his mouth. The diaphragm is a good and necessary thing singers- use it!

Felicia Barton is ready to perform “No One” by Alicia Keyes and, from the very beginning, she is singing with far too much chest voice in her vocal sound.  Her voice sounds so tight and overproduced and that final note had no clarity or ring. She has a good voice, but my goodness, add some head voice to your sound, young lady!  Great performance, but vocally too problematic for me right now.

Scott MacIntyre is finally ready to go and this is quite a moment. This young man is incredibly talented and his performance of ” Mandolin Rain” by Bruce Hornsby  is absolutely gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous! He sings with genuine passion  and love and his voice is a work of art. There are some technical, albeit minor, issues, but,  artistically and musically, he is truly exceptional.

 Kendall Beard is our country chickadee of the evening and her song choice for this last Top 12 semi-final round is “This One’s For The Girls”   by Martina McBride.  Mmmm – I am loving her lower register vocals – really focused. However, it all falls apart when she enters her upper range. Same old story – too much chest voice, not enough head voice = poorly -centered pitch. Too bad.  She is a great little performer.

Jorge Nuñez is set to perform Elton John’s “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” and this is a good song choice for his dramatic style and voice.

I am a little concerned about the technical problems – the tension in his vocal sound – however, he looks so earnest and committed to this performance. He has  a naturally great voice that I hope will become further refined and streamlined. I love him – I want him to go through and I hope he does.  He brings a new dimension to this show that we have not seen before. Vote people vote!

 Lil Rounds is the last performer of the evening and she is singing “To Be Without You” by Mary J. Blige. and that “saving the best for last” saying never rang more true than this moment. What a brilliant performer – the voice was technically and artistically stellar. Stylistically, she is an amazing performer. Amazing!!!!  The best performance of the night and, for me, of the season thus far. Excellent!

 Top 3 of the night – boy this is tough – but I have to go with Lil, Scott, Von with Jorge close behind.

That’s it readers. The masterclass doors are now open. Me? I am off to bed, as I have a plane to catch early in the morning. Good night all!

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Rosanne (Giallonardo) Simunovic began her musical career in Timmins, Ontario. She studied piano with Anne Pizzale and later, at an advanced level, with Soeur Anita Vaugeois (Sister Cecile of Les Soeurs De L’Assomption in Timmins). Her vocal and accompaniment skills were nurtured by her aunt, the late Dorothea Mascioli. When Rosanne graduated from O’Gorman High School, she moved on to the University of Toronto where she continued her piano and vocal studies while attaining a Bachelor of Arts Degree. She was hired as a piano accompanist for several musical companies, most notably, the National Ballet Of Canada. She presently holds an A.R.C.T. Teacher’s Diploma in Voice from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. Rosanne has studied choral conducting with numerous well known Canadian Conductors, including Wayne Riddell of Montreal, Quebec and the internationally renowned Dr. Elmer Iseler. She has been a founding member of numerous community-based arts organizations: the Timmins Arts Council, later known as Arts & Culture Timmins, the Timmins Symphony Orchestra, and, the Timmins Youth Singers…as well as the TYS Alumnus choir, the Timmins Concert Singers. In 1987, she was also selected to be the conductor of the Timmins Board Of Education Choir, comprised of talented students from Grades 5 to 8. In 1988, she was elected to the Board Of Directors of the Ontario Choral Federation (now known as Choirs Ontario), where she served as Chair of the Festivals Committee for six consecutive seasons. In 1996, in honour of the Ontario Choral Federation’s 25th Anniversary, Rosanne was selected as one of 25 recipients of the OCF’s Distinguished Service Award for outstanding contribution to the choral art. The ceremony was presided by Lieutenant Governor, Hal Jackman. In November 1997, Rosanne Simunovic was selected by the Rotary Club Of Timmins to receive the prestigious Paul Harris Award for her years of dedication to the artistic development of young musical talent in Timmins. In August of 2002, Rosanne Simunovic was selected by the Board Of Directors of Choirs Ontario to serve as Conductor of both the Provincial Junior and Teen Choir Camps, now renamed in honour of the Camp Benefactors, Don and Lillian Wright. In November 2002, Rosanne was the one of the recipients of the Commemorative Medal for the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, honouring her work in the development of the arts in Timmins. Under Rosanne Simunovic’s direction, the Timmins Youth Singers and the Timmins Concert Singers have been featured in numerous choral festivals and performing opportunities outside of Timmins. In 1985, they were selected to partici

11 Responses to “Vocal Masterclass Discussion Thread For American Idol Season 8 Semi-Finalists: Group Three”

  1. Can’t wait for tomorrow night! As you said, this group is full of talent and potential…gonna’ be a tough show this week, that’s for sure!

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  2. Cant wait to see if there are any hidden gems in this group. So far Adam is my favourite so I’ll miss him tonight. Still very much looking forward to the show.

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  3. Really enjoyed Von Smith tonight.
    And I totally disagreed with the judges on Arianna. Loved her!

    Still more to come….

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  4. Lil Rounds was amazing tonight! As was Scott; love both of them, not only for their voices, but for the wonderful people that they are.

    Also, quite enjoyed Kristen; was not expecting that from her. Nice job there.

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  5. Adam is still my favourite, but I did like Lil and Von tonight.

    Ju Not was pretty good too. Nice interpretation, but it was missing something. Can’t quite put my finger on it, but I still liked him.

    I can’t remember what anyone else sang so I guess that’s not a good thing. LOL.

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  6. Well, overall, I had a good time tonight! While I wasn’t much on most of the song choices, I felt like there were some truly excellent performances (in fact, I lament that there are only three spots available for the Top 12). Ah, well, I guess that’s what Wild Card is for, right? Anyway, on with the show!

    1. Von Smith–“You’re All I Need”: Okay, to be completely honest, up till now I had never really been a huge fan of this guy’s. He just failed to really impress me in his initial audition and subsequent Hollywood rounds. However, all of that changed tonight! He took total command of that song and it was apparent that he poured his entire being into making that performance as good as it could be. He managed to move around the stage and really take ownership of it without coming off as corny (as so many understandably do in these early rounds). Anyway, I’m a fan now, and he needs to be in the Top 12. I’m a little worried about him going first, but I think he more than managed to stand out!

    2. Taylor Vaifanua–“If I Ain’t Got You”: Here’s the thing. I like the song. I like Taylor. I DON’T LIKE Taylor singing the song! Despite the song having a somewhat catchy flow to it, Taylor somehow managed to make it seem boring and (shudder) forgettable. Add to those weaknesses the fact that she performed so early on, and the odd are very much stacked against her.

    3. Alex Wagner-Trugman–“I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues”: The contestant with the longest name chooses the song with the longest title! LOL Anyway, this guy should really team up with Norman Gentle and do a comedy routine. Besides the fact that I did not at all think he picked the right song and that his vocals were iffy, he was actually somewhat entertaining in some odd way. I loved the whole “accidental mike stand knock over” thing. I don’t think he actually stands a chance of making the Top 12, but at least his performance was memorable.

    4. Arianna Afsar–“The Winner Takes It All”: This performance had “WRONG SONG CHOICE” in light-up, bold lettering written all over it. There are so many really great Abba songs, and I am curious what possessed Arianna to select this one. There’s really nothing more I can say about her performance other than it was just boring. It’s a shame, really. She was very cute and had a good “look” about her.

    5. Ju’Not Joyner–“Hey There Delilah”: You know, here’s the thing. “Hey There Delilah” is a wonderful song to listen to on the radio when you’re driving in your car on rainy day. However, in a singing competition where you have to try like crazy to stand out among so many other talented singers, that song just becomes . . . well, boring and forgettable. Honestly, I felt like I could doze off as I listened to it. On the bright side, however, he did do a decent job. He seems very likable (and his son is cute and all), but I feel like it was just all very safe. But safe enough to keep him in this competition? I don’t think so.

    6. Kristen McNamara–“Give Me One Reason”: Kristen delivered a solid performance. She seemed very energetic and I could really tell she tried to do her best. However, I wasn’t much on the song. It just seemed very karaoke at times. Let me explain what I mean by that. It was not because of her voice or any other technical aspect that she sounded karaoke. I think that literally the song itself sounded that way. It just seems like the type of song that would be on almost every karaoke video game all across America, you know? However, maybe I’m just nit-picking. Overall, like I said, a solid performance. Nothing more; nothing less.

    7. Nathaniel Marshall–“I Would Do Anything For Love”: After a string of so-so performances, Nathaniel’s was the one that recaptured my attention. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised by him. Say what you will about him being a Drama Queen and dressing like he lost some kind of bet. The absolute bottom line is that HE CAN SING! He deserves to be in the Top 12, that’s for sure. He is unique to the max and his vocals were one of the best tonight. As he performed that song, I experimentally closed my eyes, effectively shutting out everything but his voice. From my little experiment, I concluded that he has a VERY good voice. My only worry is that his appearance could be a double-edged sword. It may prove helpful by making him stand out, but it could also turn off more conservative voters as well. He needs to find a happy medium. However, overall, excellent job, Nate!

    8. Felicia Barton–“No One”: Truly Felicia has to feel so blessed. To be cut from American Idol Season 8 one minute and then called back the next must be utterly exhilarating. So, the question is, how did Felicia do with her second chance? The answer? Better than I though she would. She definitely proved that she deserved her place in the Top 36, that’s for sure. However, come to think of it, I actually enjoyed her performance more than I did her singing. She took control of that stage and came across looking quite professional. The song itself was just kind of safe in my opinion though. Will she make the Top 12? I dunno . . . I don’t think she’ll get enough votes, though a wild card nomination may possibly be in the works.

    9. Scott MacIntyre–“Mandolin Rain”: Finally, the moment I had been waiting for! Scott was a favorite of mine since his first audition, and his performance of “Home” in Hollywood only served to strengthen that affinity. So, did he meet my high expectations? You bet he did! I think he could’ve picked a better song, but here is the reality. His voice is so pure and powerful that it doesn’t matter what he sings. He can take a song you’re not personally fond of and turn it into a performance that you really enjoy. That was the case for me tonight. I could feel Scott’s heart in that song and he had a genuineness about him that is often so rare in the music industry today. I look forward to watching this amazing performer grow and flourish in the ranks of the Top 12–and yes, he’ll DEFINITELY be in the Top 12! No doubt there!

    10. Kendall Beard–“This One’s For The Girls”: You know, I enjoyed this performance quite a bit really. It wasn’t the greatest of the night, though it certainly wasn’t the worst. So many of the young girls tonight just seemed to try and be so mature for their age. However, Kendall pleasantly delivered a fun and youthful performance. The song will appeal to a lot of young girls for sure (which constitutes a respectable chunk of this show’s demagraphic). With a little bit of work, I see this girl as entirely capable of being a contemporary country singer. The second best female of the night, in my opinion!

    12. Lil Rounds–“To Be Without You”: Okay, there is absolutely no denying that Lil delivered a powerhouse performance. Likewise, there is little doubt that she has more than secured her place in the Top 12. Still, in all fairness, it was by no means my favorite performance of the night, and I’m not necessarily as head-over-heels for her as the judges seemed to be tonight. However, she is very talented and I believe she will go quite far in this competition!

    I think the Top 3 tonight should be Scott, Lil, and Nathaniel or Von. However it works out though, all FOUR of those I mentioned should definitely be in the Top 12 when it’s all said and done.

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  7. Oh, I completely forgot Jorge! I’m so sorry! Here’s what I thought of him:

    Jorge Nunez–“Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me”: First of all, EXCELLENT song choice! David Archuleta truly made me love that song when he sang it stupendously in the finale! However, even though Jorge had his moments, I could not help comparing his performance of it to Archuleta’s. I know that really isn’t fair, so I feel a little bad. However, because I love that song I naturally have high expectations for whoever sings it. Jorge did really well, but he just didn’t blow me away like David did when he performed that song. Oh, and I agree with Simon, don’t dispose of your accent, Jorge! It’s what makes you unique! Refine it a bit perhaps, but don’t just get rid of it!

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  8. Hi Everyone,

    Just returned from seeing David Archuleta in Buffalo this evening. I AM SO HAPPY. His voice was astounding, his comfort level on stage has improved a hundred fold, he moves back and forth effortlessly and interacts with the audience continuously. His banter was constant, meaningful and heartfelt. I heard a song for the first time tonight that he co-wrote with his bass guitar player, ” Zero Gravity ” and it was amazing, my favorite of the night. I think our David is doing just fine indeed and he’s only just begun. Bravo David. Wish you all could have been there.

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  9. This is a very tough night to pick the winners because the competition was great. My prediction going into tonight for the winners are Jorge Nunez for the men, Lil Rounds for the women, and Kristen McNamara for 3rd place, and I still stand by that based on their performances. But I do have to say that 3rd best is going to be a VERY difficult spot to fill. I love Kristen McNamara, of course, with fantastic range, tone, but her competition is stiff. Scott Macintyre was also strong, as was Von Scott. Can’t wait to see the results.

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  10. I’m glad Ricky Brady, Von, Matt, Anoop and Megan made it. Great choices.

    Not crazy about Jasmine or the red headed girl.

    Tatiana has some heart and is fun.

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