Home Official News Releases Two Drake Choir members win Holiday Idol Contest

Two Drake Choir members win Holiday Idol Contest

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Danika Portz and Grant Cornish

By popular acclaim, two Drake students are Des Moines’ “Holiday Idols.”

Grant Cornish and Danika Portz of the Drake University Choir garnered the most votes from listeners for their rendition of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” in the contest sponsored by Lite 104.1 (KLTI-FM). Hear the song by visiting the Lite 104.1 Web site.

The students will share $1,000 in prize money and will receive another $1,000 to be donated to their charity of choice — The Boys and Girls Club of Central Iowa.

The winning duo also accepted the radio station’s invitation to perform several songs during intermission of the Tonic Sol-fa concert at Hoyt Sherman Place on Friday, Dec. 19.

“We performed several songs and we both were really excited about that,” said Cornish, a senior music business major from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

The Holiday Idol contest drew 29 entrants from a wide array of musical groups, including church and high school choirs. By the time Portz and Cornish reached the finals, they faced competition from fellow Drake students who belong to the Drake Treblemakers, a 14-member women’s a capella group.

“One of the things I was really pleased with was the fact that for the finals, it came down to two groups from Drake,” said Portz, a sophomore from Remsen, Iowa, who is majoring in accounting and marketing with a minor in musical theatre. “I think it says a lot about Drake University and our music program to have the whole Des Moines community voting for our two groups.”


The Drake Treblemakers performed “Silver Bells” for the contest. Listen to their performance online.

Portz and Cornish said they chose their song because they wanted something upbeat. Cornish, who plans to go into music production and recording, used the recording studio in his apartment to produce the duo’s winning rendition.

Cornish is active in the Drake Choir, Drake Chamber Choir and Pick 6, Drake’s a cappella group for men. In addition to being a member of the Drake Choir, Portz has appeared in numerous Drake productions, including the opera scenes program and a musical. She also played Marty in “Grease” at the Des Moines Playhouse last summer.

Portz and Cornish are among the 52 singers in the Drake Choir, the University’s select touring ensemble. The group performs throughout the Midwest each year and internationally every four years. Last May and June, the choir traveled to Italy and Austria. The ensemble is conducted by Aimee Beckmann-Collier, Drake director of choral studies and professor of conducting. More information about the choir is available online.

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Had they won the contest, the Treblemakers planned to donate $1,000 of their winnings to the House of Mercy.

“In the end, the contest could have easily gone either way,” Portz said. “The Drake Treblemakers are fantastic!”

The founders of that group — Kathleen Wilson and Jessica Shalita — 
met as members of the Drake Chorale, the women’s choir on Drake’s
campus. The first-year students decided that since there was a Drake a
capella group for men, there should be one for women as well.

So they organized the Drake Treblemakers, held auditions and began
rehearsing a variety of pop and jazz and a capella pieces. The
14-member group performed for the first time last February as part of
Drake’s presentation of “The Vagina Monologues.” Their largest audience
has been at Drake University’s Relay for Life last April.

Wilson, of Hoffman Estates, Ill., directs the Treblemakers. She is a sophomore majoring in public
relations. Shalita is a sophomore from North Las Vegas, Nev., is majoring
in pre-pharmacy.