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Laura Savage, ACA Hip Hop capture top honors at Spring Sing 2016

Third-year sociology student Laura Savage took home Spring Sing’s top prize, the Northern California Alumni Grand Sweepstakes Award, for her original song “Once.” Spring Sing, held Saturday night, showcased Bruin talent in singing, dancing, comedy and acting to a large Pauley Pavilion audience. (Daniel Alcazar/Photo editor)

By Erin Nyren and Paula De Oliveira

May 22, 2016 1:35 a.m.

The crowd fell silent as the spotlight shone on the Pauley Pavilion stage. Isaiah Murtaugh, vocalist of the duet Tom Shay and a third-year international development studies student, held a guitar and propped a harmonica on his shoulder. Third-year geography and environmental studies student Andre Arifin provided the backbeat and accompanying shaker rhythm to their original song “San Juan.”

Singing lyrics both in English and Spanish, Murtaugh’s rugged voice set the tone for Spring Sing 2016’s evening of music and entertainment to the packed Pauley Pavilion crowd.

The Student Alumni Association hosted the annual talent competition Saturday, which featured UCLA students exhibiting skills in dancing, singing, acting and comedy. The show’s top award, the Northern California Alumni Grand Sweepstakes Award for best performance, went to third-year sociology student Laura Savage for her song “Once.”

Other awards went to duet Tom Shay, dance group ACA Hip Hop and band Aizehi and the Funkth Dimension for Gold Shield Alumnae Esprit de Corps Award for best overall participation, Bruin Choice Award and UCLA Los Doñas Award for best band entry, respectively. The Who’s Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey received the 2016 George and Ira Gershwin Award for Lifetime Musical Achievement.

The announcement of the celebrity judges kicked off the night. This year’s celebrity judges included Brett Dier of “Jane the Virgin,” actress Alyson Stoner and Jim O’Heir of “Parks and Recreation,” among others. They watched as each act took the stage, even occasionally bobbing their heads to the beat.

Savage took the stage with an acoustic guitar and a smile, wearing a long green floral dress and performing her song “Once.” The song was reminiscent of Ingrid Michaelson’s soft vocals and quirky attitude, with Savage strumming the guitar and singing lyrics like “Darling, I can see you standing there/ Please put your bloody fists down.” In addition to the top honors, she also won the UCLA Mortar Board Award for best solo entry.

Both exhibition contenders, ACA Hip Hop and Nashaa provoked wild applause from the crowd with their coordinated movements. ACA Hip Hop took home the Bruin Choice Award, voted by audience members at the end of the show. The group’s dynamic choreography utilized hits from Nicki Minaj and remixes of songs like “Good For You” by Selena Gomez. Their set ended with a throwback to The Script’s “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved.”

The Gold Shield Alumnae Esprit de Corps Award for Overall Participation Award went to Tom Shay, a duet that combined harmonica with acoustic guitar and soulful Spanish lyrics. Duet Eva B. Ross and David Miller married electric and acoustic guitar, which supported Ross’s lyrics and aching voice.

ScatterTones won the UCLA Prytanean Alumnae Award for best a cappella entry, beating out the two other competing groups, Signature and Resonance A Cappella. The members matched their floral attire and harmonies as they closed the show to Lionel Ritchie’s “All Night Long.” ScatterTones’ Maya Schulefand, a fourth-year communication studies student, took the best group director award.

“It definitely validates all of the hard work and the sweat and the tears over these last few months,” Schulefald said. “It just feels amazing and I’m just sad it’s over.”

Of the bands, The AM lent an arena rock energy, Lydia Luce Band a folksy bluegrass vibe and Mr. Moon an indie rock feel to the bands category. Aizehi and the Funkth Dimension, the winner of the UCLA Las Doñas Award for best band entry, brought the funk.

Aizehi and the Funkth Dimension showcased vivid jazz sounds with its original song “Lost Myself in the Song.” The sound of the saxophone resonated through Pauley Pavilion; vocalist and fourth-year ethnomusicology student Priscillia Omon hit some of the night’s highest notes and received loud cheers and nods of approval from the panel of judges, especially from actor Noah Galvin.

Between acts, Company provided the comic relief with video sketches and live skits. Each seemed to provoke more laughter than the last, but the judges deemed “Quarter System Rap” as the Sasan Ahoraian Company Award for best Company skit. Highlights of their skits included “C-Sesh Nights,” an adaptation of “Summer Nights” from the musical “Grease,” and “G.E. Joe,” a militaristic parody of the diligence required to enroll in high-demand classes.

In his acceptance speech for the lifetime achievement award, Daltrey of The Who said he was impressed with the Spring Sing acts as he sat in the back, watching the talent on stage.

“You’re in good stead for the future,” Daltrey said.

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Erin Nyren
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