By Maggie Seppi, Contributing Writer
For Jermaine Reynolds, the UNF Music Department played an important role in getting his voice heard on TVs across the country.
Reynolds, a UNF music education senior, realized this when ABC aired an episode of “Karaoke Battle USA” on which he competed Sept. 2.
He said he heard about the contest from a friend.
“It was the day before auditions when he told me, but I figured, ‘Why not give it a shot?’” he said.
Reynolds, 26, started singing for his church at age 5 but tried karaoke for the first time in January 2010, he said.
Reynolds, however, is not a vocal major. He plays the euphonium, a brass instrument similar to a tuba.
He said performing often makes him nervous, but his UNF professors helped him gain confidence.
“If it wasn’t for the program, I would have never been able to compete in the karaoke contest,” Reynolds said. “It was the most nervous I have ever been; I was shaking.”
UNF professor Marc Dickman is Reynolds’ private instructor. Dickman has played a vital role in boosting his confidence, Reynolds said.
Dickman has known Reynolds for about two years, and he meets with him once a week for practice.
“[Reynolds] is an excellent student,” Dickman said, “and he will do well in anything he attempts.”
Reynolds said UNF’s music program and its professors have prepared him for the professional world.
“The music program taught me to work to my potential,” Reynolds said, “and now, no matter what people say, if I know I haven’t done my best, I’m not satisfied.”
Reynolds works as a band instructor at Nease High School in Ponte Vedra, and he said he hopes to continue doing so.
Making it to New York
Reynolds competed in the Eastern regional competition and won the top male for North Florida. He sang “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” by Simon and Garfunkel and “Heaven” by Los Lonely Boys in Jacksonville. The victory allowed him to travel to New York City for the next leg of the competition.
The contestants battled for the top male and top female positions for their region in New York. Reynolds performed “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd there, and the winners will move on to the finals, which will take place in Los Angeles.
The top four males and the top four females from each region will face off for the titles of King and Queen of Karaoke in Los Angeles.
The competition lasted two days, but Reynolds spent a week in New York.
Before the show, Reynolds had never been to New York or even on an airplane, he said.
“It was a surreal experience to be in the city, and I made so many friends,” Reynolds said. “I almost forgot it was a competition.”
HOW FAR WILL HE GO?
Jermaine Reynolds cannot tell us how far he went in the competition in New York, so tune in to ABC’s “Karaoke Battle USA” Sept. 16 at 9 p.m. for the season finale to find out if he made it to the finals in Los Angeles.