Portland’s Michael Odokara-Okigbo was still excited and upbeat Tuesday, less than 24 hours after he came oh-so-close to winning a recording contract on national TV.

Odokara-Okigbo and his a cappella group, the Dartmouth Aires, finished second Monday on NBC’s “The Sing-Off” and saw $200,000 in cash and a Sony Music recording contract go to another group.

But on Tuesday, Odokara-Okigbo said the Dartmouth Aires were “at peace” with the loss because they did their very best competing on the show this fall.

Plus, he’s still singing.

Odokara-Okigbo said Tuesday that he’s staying in Los Angeles this week to rehearse with the Dartmouth Aires for “A Sing-Off Christmas,” which will air at 8 p.m. Monday. Several groups from this and past seasons of the show will perform on the holiday special.

Though his group didn’t win, Odokara-Okigbo was praised consistently by judges for his lead vocals and his overall performances. Asked whether being on “The Sing-Off” has helped him line up any music-related jobs, he said he could not disclose that information.

His answer was the same when he was asked whether he and the Dartmouth Aires would get any prize – money, recording time, etc. – for coming in second.

All he really could say during the few minutes he had between rehearsals Tuesday was that being on the show was at once nerve-wracking and wonderful, and he’s excited now to pursue his passion for a career in music.

“This experience was just so great. As a group we got a lot closer, and we got close to the other groups as well,” said Odokara-Okigbo, a graduate of Waynflete School in Portland. “Being part of the holiday special will be great. Christmas is my favorite time of year. I hope a lot of people will watch.”

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

Odokara-Okigbo said his first order of business, after the NBC special next week, will be to prepare for final exams at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H.

He’s still on schedule to graduate in the spring as a history major, he said.

When asked to pick his favorite moments on the show, Odokara-Okigbo picked three numbers on which he sang lead: Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground,” a medley of Queen songs and “Shout” by the Isley Brothers.

He said that after Monday’s finale, members of all 16 competing groups had a party and watched a recording of the show they had just been on. He said he was genuinely happy for the group that beat his – Pentatonix – and said members of that group had become close friends of his during the filming.

“This whole experience has been so incredible, so humbling,” he said.


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