Campus SuperStar has raised more than $2 million for Hillels of Georgia

By David R. Cohen  | david@atljewishtimes.com

A college talent competition in the style of “American Idol” is coming back to Buckhead.

ED-Superstar

The audience March 31 should expect the eight finalists to match the performance of the 2014 Campus SuperStar finalists.

Campus SuperStar offers a $5,000 prize to the winning singer, but the big victor is Hillels of Georgia, which has raised more than $2,077,000 from the competition since launching it in 2004.

Auditions for the 12th annual show began in November. More than 150 students tried out, and eight made the cut for the finale March 31 at the Buckhead Theatre: Keyera Grant, Taralyn Griffin and Laura Valentine of the University of Georgia; Amy Hebel of Kennesaw State; Arrion Jackson of Georgia Tech; Christian Noble of the Savannah College of Art and Design; David Porter of Georgia State; and Shawn Skolky of Emory.

“We’re not just trying to focus on one group,” Hillels of Georgia Executive Director Rabbi Russ Shulkes said. “We want to bring everyone together. When we choose students to sing, we don’t differentiate between Jew and non-Jew. The eight finalists are chosen by their straight-up ability to sing awesomely.”

The competition drew students from 26 universities in Georgia. Judges chose the finalists from open auditions at Emory and UGA. Students of all backgrounds and religions were welcome.

Each of the eight finalists will sing one song March 31, and they will perform a 20-minute group number together. The judges will pick the winner of the $5,000 prize and two runners-up, who will receive $500 each.

Rabbi Shulkes said the event is an opportunity to show that Hillels of Georgia is welcoming to all and knows how to have a good time. “The most important thing about this event is that it’s fun,” he said. “This is a fundraiser that helps people become aware of what Hillels of Georgia does. It’s our job as an organization to create an environment that’s fun, engaging and different.”

Campus SuperStar started as the brainchild of Linda Selig and Rita Levine in 2004. “American Idol” was one of the highest-rated shows on television, and Hillels of Georgia wanted to launch a yearly fundraising event that resonated with college students. More than $2 million later, the idea is a clear success.

In addition to the singing competition, Campus SuperStar honors members of the Atlanta Jewish community who give back. This year’s honorees are Billy Bauman and Staci Brill.

Admission to the show at 7 p.m. is free for college students. For others, tickets start at $75 for attendees age 40 and younger and $125 for those older; the tickets include cocktails and a light dinner at 6 p.m.

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What: Campus SuperStar

Where: Buckhead Theatre, 3110 Roswell Road, Buckhead

When: 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 31

Tickets: www.hillelsofgeorgia.org/campussuperstar/event/ticket-purchase.html