College Talent Tour returns to USC

USC is hosting the College Talent Tour for the third time since its inception this semester, giving aspiring singers the opportunity to compete against each other in front of judges and students to prove they have what it takes to win.

The College Talent Tour is a unique singing competition spaced out over three months. It gives students of all experience levels the opportunity to hone their skills through a modern audition process, regular meetings with coaches and an eventual live competition showcasing the top four contestants.

The winner of USC’s installment in December was Sarah Linick, a sophomore majoring in communication, whose soulful piano rendition of Kanye West’s “Only One” not only earned her the title, but also proved that anyone with talent can win.

“Former contestants include accomplished engineers, scholar athletes and world humanitarians. College Talent tour is open to anyone that sings,” said Mario Jose, an organizer of the show,

General auditions closed on Sunday after contestants sent in a recording of themselves singing a two-minute song of their choice. On Feb. 18, auditions will be held for the top 16, which will be narrowed down to four contestants that will advance to the three coaching sessions on Feb. 25, March 4 and April 14.  The coaching sessions are formatted like boot camps to provide rigorous training for the artists before they take the stage for the final round.

The College Talent Tour will last through most of the semester, with the final live show airing on April 15. This year, the winner will win a $1,000 prize, and the runner-up will receive recognition on the show’s website.

In 2014, the College Talent Tour kicked off its inaugural run at UC Berkeley, which allowed college students with all levels of experience a chance to compete for the top prize. It ultimately expanded to USC in 2015 and to colleges such as New York University, University of Pennsylvania and UCLA the following year.

Similar to most singing competitions, the College Talent Tour invites celebrity judges to give contestants opinions from professionals in the music industry. These judges have included Christina Grimmie and Chris Jamison in the past. The show also exposes contestants to other icons in the music industry who could help them grow as professional artists.

“It’s hard to pick one aspect of the show that’s my favorite,” said celebrity guest Drake Bell in a video featured on the tour’s website. “You know, it was like being on American Idol or something.”

The College Talent Tour also includes opportunities for participants to create music videos and perform at iconic venues in the city of the host campus. The final live show will be filmed for the pilot episode of a television show.

“You should audition for College Talent Tour if you have any inkling that you want to pursue music — even if it’s at 1 percent, you should give it a shot because I did, and I couldn’t be happier,” said Grace Korkunis, a former contestant from USC in a video posted to the show’s website.

The College Talent Tour at USC is currently taking place and will continue until April 15.