Portland’s Michael Odokara-Okigbo can’t achieve his dreams of a singing career on talent alone.

He needs our help.

Odokara-Okigbo and his a cappella cohorts the Dartmouth Aires have made it to the finals of NBC’s “The Sing-Off,” and now are one of just three groups vying for the grand prize of $200,000 in cash and a Sony Music recording contract.

But unlike all previous episodes, in which a panel of celebrity judges decided who advanced in the contest, the winner will be chosen by viewers before the live finale airs at 8 p.m. Monday. NBC is allowing America to vote for the winners right now, online or by phone, until 9 a.m. Sunday.

So that means even though Odokara-Okigbo will be performing in the finale, the competition will already be over.

“The finale for us will be a celebration of this whole situation. We’re just so excited to have made it this far,” Odokara-Okigbo said in a phone interview Wednesday during a five-minute break in Hollywood from rehearsals for the live finale. “People can vote from now until Sunday.”

So, Mainers, consider yourselves notified.

To vote for the Dartmouth Aires, go online to NBC.com/sing-off/vote or call (877) 674-6403.

Odokara-Okigbo and the Dartmouth Aires were one of 16 groups competing when the “Sing-Off” began in September. Many of the shows were taped before the season began airing, and later rounds were taped in the fall. Odokara-Okigbo said he and his groupmates had about a week to get ready for each episode, including learning a song or two plus all the choreography.

Not to mention that they are all students at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., and have classwork to do. Odokara-Okigbo is a senior majoring in history who had been considering a career in the global health field. But his time on the show, with judges consistently praising his singing and stage presence, convinced him to pursue a career in music.

On Wednesday, he said he plans to do that, win or lose. And even though he’s received national exposure and praise from the show’s judges, he says he appreciates the difficulty of what he wants to do.

“I have to finish college first, then I really want to go into recording and hopefully leave my mark,” said Odokara-Okigbo. “I respect the people who work in music, and I know it’s a hard process.”

Although Odokara-Okigbo had been called a “star” by judges throughout the season, the Dartmouth Aires only barely made it to the finale. On last Monday’s show, they had to compete in a sing-off with another group to decide who would stay in the competition and who would leave. Odokara-Okigbo sang lead on the Queen classic “Somebody to Love,” and the judges voted 2 to 1 to let the Dartmouth Aires advance.

What was it like to be standing on stage, knowing that one judge’s opinion could end your dreams?

“I am a natural competitor, so I wanted to move on,” he said. “But at that moment on stage, I was at peace, because I knew we had done our absolute best.”

Odokara-Okigbo is a graduate of Waynflete School in Portland and a former member of the Boy Singers of Maine. His mother lives in Portland, and his father runs a computer software company in Nigeria.

Odokara-Okigbo said the praise from the show’s judges has helped his confidence, but it also makes him a little humble.

“It’s awesome to hear the comments that have been made, and it makes me very thankful,” he said.

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

[email protected]