Portland’s Michael Odokara-Okigbo will have to wait a little longer for his singing career to begin.

But anyone who watched his electrifying performances on national TV this fall – including a panel of musician judges who consistently praised him – has no doubt that his career in music will begin eventually.

Odokara-Okigbo and his a cappella group, the Dartmouth Aires, came up second Monday night on the finale of NBC’s “The Sing-Off.” They were bested by only one group – Pentatonix – for the show’s grand prize of $200,000 in cash and a Sony Music recording contract.

When Pentatonix was announced as the winner, Odokara-Okigbo and the Dartmouth Aires were on stage and got covered by the celebratory confetti. They then embraced the winners before leaving the stage.

The performances on Monday’s finale were meaningless in terms of determining the winner. People around the nation were allowed to vote for a winner – online and by phone – beginning last Monday night, after the three finalist groups were named. Voting ended Sunday morning.

So Monday’s finale felt more like a variety show than a competition. There were performances by the three contending groups, by the celebrity judges, and by groups that were on the show earlier. The finale was aired live from Los Angeles.

The first bit of drama on the finale came about 20 minutes from the end of the two-hour show, when the name of the first group to be eliminated – Urban Method – was revealed. That left the Dartmouth Aires and Pentatonix.

In the one song the Dartmouth Aires performed by themselves, Odokara-Okigbo continued to show his versatility on leads. He powered his way through “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” by Meatloaf, adding theatrics to the song with his moves and looks.

And once again, he earned praise from the judges.

“There are hundreds of college a cappella groups out there, but what makes you guys stand out is your focus, your theatrical edge, and you’ve got an unmistakable lead in Michael,” said judge Ben Folds.

The 16-member Dartmouth Aires was the only traditional college a cappella group to make the finals of “The Sing-Off” this year.

Pentatonix is a five-member group from Arlington, Texas, with a modern style, and Urban Method is a group of studio singers from Denver with a flair for rap and hip-hop.

Later, all of the male contestants on the show joined for Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run.” Odokara-Okigbo sang one of the leads. He did not get to sing with music legend Smokey Robinson, who performed on the show.

Early in the finale, the Dartmouth Aires were shown in a filmed segment visiting with stroke victims at Saving Strokes, an organization that uses golf to help stroke victims recover.

Odokara-Okigbo said the visit was special to him because his mother suffered a stroke earlier this year. “We in the Dartmouth Aires want to be able to give back,” he said. “Because of my mother, I know how difficult it can be to recover from this.”

This season of “The Sing-Off” began in September with 16 groups. By making the finals, Odokara-Okigbo caused quite a stir at Waynflete School in Portland, from which he graduated from before heading off to Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H.

On Monday night, Waynflete students, faculty members and friends jammed a theater at the school to watch Odokara-Okigbo try for fame and fortune.

Odokara-Okigbo said last week that being on the show has convinced him to pursue a career in music – win or lose.

He said he will finish college at Dartmouth first – he’s a history major – then see how far his voice will take him.

Being on “The Sing-Off” gave him national exposure, and that exposure will continue.

Next Monday, NBC will air a “Sing-Off Holiday Special” featuring performances by past competing groups, likely including the Dartmouth Aires.

Epic Records released a holiday album earlier this month featuring the groups of this season, called “The Sing-Off: Songs of the Season.”

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at: [email protected]

Twitter: RayRouthier