Mayo sings ‘At Last’ to La Verne Idol win

Kristina Bugante
Editorial Director

Sarah Mayo, senior sociology major, was crowned the reigning champion of Mu Phi Epsilon’s fifth annual La Verne Idol singing competition Wednesday night.

After an audition process and a few dozen competitors later, Mayo was selected the winner by a panel of three judges out of the four remaining finalists. Her prizes included a $100 gift card, a trophy and her name on a plaque that hangs in the University’s music library.

“I was really, really excited,” Mayo said about her win.

During the results, the audience cheered loudly as Mayo’s face dropped in shock when she realized she was this year’s La Verne Idol.

“I was actually unsure of the outcome,” she said. “I was like, ‘I’m just gonna keep an open mind and not expect anything.’”

Mayo’s solo act was a fun and relaxed, yet soulful rendition of “At Last” by Etta James. Josh Williams, judge and director of the ULV Pep Band, said he enjoyed Mayo’s use of her lower range in her performance.

Mayo was also selected the winner of her team battle round against fellow finalist Nicole Miller, where they both perfectly harmonized to “Elastic Heart” by Sia.

“There were times when I thought there was one voice,” said judge and musician Hai Muradian.

Williams and Muradian, alongside judge and Associate Dean of Student Affairs Ruby Montaño-Cordova, offered comments and criticism to each competitor after their performances.

“I got good constructive feedback from the judges,” Mayo said. “I really appreciated it.”

Finalist and senior multimedia major Chris Pulu was a part of starting La Verne Idol.

“To see it come full circle my senior year, I had to be a part of it,” he said. “I had no expectations of making it this far, so when I did it, it was definitely worth the experience.”

Muradian praised Pulu’s falsetto in his rendition of “Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton.

“That was the part that won me over,” Muradian said.

Ashley Valiente, first runner-up, showed off her stage presence in her passionate performance of “Bound to You” by Christina Aguilera.

Valiente, junior biology major, was also selected winner over Pulu in their team battle of “Lucky” by Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat.

Miller, junior business administration major, showed off her unique voice with a slowed-down version of Beyonce’s “Crazy In Love.” Muradian praised Miller’s “beautiful” pitch.

“I’m really critical of that,” he said. “Pitch is what I look for.”

Alongside the finalists’ performances, Mu Phi Epsilon member Isabel Kwon performed “Defying Gravity” from the musical “Wicked” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis Presley.

For the final number of the show, the finalists came together for a fun rendition of “Bennie and the Jets” by Elton John.

“All of the contestants, we became really close friends,” Miller said. “We just had a good time. I mean, that’s really what it is.”

Kristina Bugante can be reached at

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