Student advances to singing contest semifinals

Leeanna Goldstein Rubin, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences, beat out 3,600 entrants from 53 countries to become one of only 35 semifinalists in the Voice of McDonald's 2008 International Singing Contest.

The competition is open to the more than 1.6 million crew and managers who work in McDonald's restaurants around the world. Rubin has worked part-time at the McDonald's in Honesdale, Pa., for more than five years and continues to work there when she is home on summer break and holidays, her mother, Judith Goldstein-Rubin, said in an e-mail.

Rubin is now one of seven competitors from the United States remaining in the worldwide contest.

The current rankings of the contestants are based on a five-star system, where a higher number of stars means a better score. Rubin currently has four stars.

If chosen as a global finalist, Rubin would win a trip with a guest to the McDonald's 2008 Worldwide Convention in Orlando, Fla. There, she would compete for the contest's grand prize of $25,000. There is also a runner-up prize of $10,000 and a second-runner-up prize of $5,000.

All other finalists will win $500 for their restaurant, and there will be a $1,000 contribution in their name to a local chapter of the Ronald McDonald House Charity.

Rubin entered the competition by sending in a video of a song she worked on with her voice coach Doug Bowles and piano accompanists Gina Marrazza and Matthew Van Hoose at AU, according to Goldstein-Rubin. Rubin's entry is a jazzy rendition of Patsy Cline's country music song "Walkin' after Midnight."

People can vote for their favorite singer in the competition until Dec. 10 at www.mcdonalds.com/voice. The online vote will be combined with scores from the contestants' original entries to decide who will move on to the final round, according to McDonald's Web site.

"Singing is definitely a passion of mine," Rubin said. "I started singing when I was six. I never really got into the whole theater thing until my senior year of high school, and that's when I decided to pursue it, and I thought this [competition] would be a good idea to start."

Rubin is a tenacious, smart and passionate student, said Karl Kippola, a CAS professor who has taught her. He also directed her in AU's production of "Urinetown," in which she played Mrs. Strong.

"I don't think her clip is as showy as others, but it has quite a lot of depth," he said. "[She has] maturity and passion, and it makes her stand out a bit more."

Winning the competition would give Rubin the opportunity to sing more, Kippola said.

"Vocally, she is capable of remarkable things. She has great range and power, and they should vote for her to give her a chance to sing more," he said.

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