SPECIAL FOR THE AJT //

As part of Hillels of Georgia’s 10th-annual Campus SuperStar program, an “American Idol”-style talent show took center stage last month at the Buckhead Theatre in Atlanta. This year’s event featured eight students representing six colleges from across Georgia.

Steak Shapiro from 790 the Zone awards the $5,000 grand prize to overall winner Sam Burchfield. PHOTO / Eric Bern Studio

Steak Shapiro from 790 the Zone awards the $5,000 grand prize to overall winner Sam Burchfield. PHOTO / Eric Bern Studio

The show, which honored Sandy Springs residents Betty and Alan Sunshine, helped raise funds for Hillels of Georgia to provide programs for more than 6,000 Jewish students attending the University of Georgia, Emory University, Georgia State, Georgia Tech and Kennesaw State University.

The proceedings began with the contestants singing an ensemble number during introductions and ended with a medley of “Sunshine” songs as a tribute to this year’s honorees. Steak Shapiro, from 790 the Zone’s “Mayhem in the AM” and host of Atlanta Eats, served as emcee for the night.

The approximately 400 people in attendance cheered on each of the performers, leaving the judges – jazz singer-songwriter Patty Mack, singer-songwriter Adam McKnight and singer- actor Ritchie Crownfield – with the difficult task of picking a grand-prize, second- and third-place honorees.

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This year’s second runner-up, UGA junior Emma Cook, belted out Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition,” while first runner-up, SCAD senior Kiandra Richardson, wowed the audience with her rendition of Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing.”

Grand prize (and the $5,000 that came with) went to Sam Burchfield, who both played guitar and sang “Too Close” by Alex Clare. Burchfield, a UGA junior, is studying public relations and the music business.

“Campus SuperStar was an incredible experience!” Burchfield said after his name was called. “Working with Chris McCannon, his amazing band and production team and, of course, the other finalists was so rewarding. We all became such great friends, to the point where we had just as much fun singing and goofing off backstage as we did on stage.

“I think it is the people involved in Campus SuperStar that made it so wonderful. I am extremely honored and blessed to have been chosen out of such an elite group of singers.”

As this year’s overall winner, Burchfield was awarded studio recording time from Honey Bee Studio in addition to the prize money. After he graduates, Burchfield hopes to become a professional singer and songwriter.

“Campus SuperStar has no doubt been a huge stepping stone in my journey as a musician, and I can’t say how much I appreciate everyone who made it possible,” he said.

The evening was chaired by Rita and Michael LeVine and Joanie and Lewis Shubin, supported by a committee that included Cathy Selig and Michael Kuranoff, Sheri and Steve Labovitz, Ellen Arnovitz and Michael Plasker, Brenda and Mark Lichtenstein and Michael Wien.

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