Female students audition to sing for On The Rox

The echo of voices could be heard from behind room 230 in the Music Building Sunday, as female students tried out for On The Rox, an all-female a capella group.

Participants stood in the hallway, listening to their competition’s muffled voices from behind a closed door. They sat nervously as they waited their name to be called.

Margo Light, a freshman from Durind, looked confident and ready to sing as she stood outside the door in her sequined blouse.

“I’m a little bit nervous, I’m anxious,” she said.  “I’m singing ‘Probably Wouldn’t Be This Way’ by Leanne Rimes.”

Light has been involved with the Flint Festival Youth Chorus for over 15 years, The Holiday Pops, which is televised, and the Flint Orchestra.

“I pretty much just sing because I like it,” she said.

“The song I’m singing is ‘Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend’ by Marilyn Monroe,” Hillman junior Alexis Young said.  “It’s my favorite song, especially after they made the movie ‘Burlesque.’”

Margo Light, left, and Vicky VanHout, right, stand in front of On The Rox members during auditions Sunday. 

Young said a capella has always been something she has wanted to do.

“I’ve been in a million talent shows, band and pageants,” Young said. “But I didn’t do chorus in high school because I couldn’t fit it into my schedule.”

Choir was a priority for On The Rox auditioner Tori Saylor.  She was the choir president, in honors choir and performed lead roles in musicals at Northwest High School in Jackson.

“I was Dolly in ‘Hello, Dolly!,’ the Wicked Witch in ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and ‘Yente in Fiddler on the Roof,’” she said.  “I was in other musicals, but those were my bigger roles.”

The audition was Saylor’s second year participating in On The Rox tryouts.  She chose to sing Birdy’s version of Skinny Love.

Sarah Van Hoesen, a transfer student from Alma College, also participated in musicals.  She performed in ‘Footloose,’ ‘Cinderella’ and was Carlotta in ‘Phantom of the Opera.’

“I’m super nervous,” Van Hoesen said.  “I haven’t sang ‘Hopelessly Devoted’ in a while, hopefully it all comes back.”

Saline sophomore Vicky VanHout was also nervous.

“Oh yeah, auditions always freak me out,” she said “I’ve played violin for 12 years and sang since I learned how to talk. Also, I’ve been in the church choir and Saline Fiddlers, a traveling band that mostly does Celtic and Bluegrass.”

The tension built as the audition room creaked open, ready for the participants to audition.  As names were called, groups of three entered the room.

“What we’re looking for are girls who have singing talent, musicality and a person who will be a part of the group,” Angela DiGiovanni, On The Rox president, said.

This year is On The Rox’s 10-year anniversary, and the a capella group has plans to invite the On The Rox alumni back to CMU to celebrate. The group also has plans to sing for Gov. Rick Snyder in Lansing this December.

“What they did at tryouts today was sing a song that they prepared, then we tested their range on the piano,” DiGiovanni said.  “We also made them try beat boxing.”

A lot of the girls trying out had never tried beat boxing, but they had them start out saying “boots and skirts” and sped it up.

“I attempted beat boxing,” Young said.  “It wasn’t horrible, I just copied what they were doing.”

As VanHout exited the audition room, her shoulders relaxed.

“I’m glad it’s over,” she said.  “I think I did well, but the other two I auditioned with were great.  I hope I lived up to them.”

Van Hoesen took a deep breath as she walked down the hallway.

“My voice shook a little bit, but at least I was on tune,” she said.


Photo | Trevor Redford, staff photographer