Kent State student reaches semifinals in McDonald’s Voice of America competition



Jimmy Miller

Senior music major Carrie Vieweg has been here before. Her first experience with the Voice of McDonald’s competition came her freshman year when she reached the semifinals of competition but failed to break into the finals.

“I didn’t know what to expect (the first time),” Carrie said. “I didn’t really tell a lot of people to go vote (online). This time, I’m very hell-bent on getting to finals.”

Encouraged by her coworkers at the Concord Township McDonald’s, Carrie entered the competition for the third time this summer by submitting a video online. Contestants were to be notified of their acceptance around the beginning of September, but Carrie had not heard anything until Oct. 1.

“I had doubts. I was in Target and my mom and my manager randomly phone conferenced me,” Carrie said about when she first found out she got accepted. “I screamed in the middle of the store. People probably thought I was crazy.”

The competition pits McDonald’s employees who choose to participate against each other, according to the Voice of McDonald’s official website. The grand prize winner will be awarded $25,000.

Carrie said a panel of judges decides which singers reach the semifinal round after viewing the contestants’ videos, and once in, voting becomes a vital process.

“We are very excited,” said Walt Vieweg, Carrie’s father. “We submitted a video in the summer to compete for the semifinal round. I think she really does (have a chance). Kent State has given her more depth to her vocal ability, but I don’t want to jinx us.”

Walt said the video they submitted in the summer has 11,500 shares, which was the most shares he had seen so far.

The video was to Carrie’s rendition of “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion and used Lake Erie as a backdrop.

Earlier last month, McDonald’s flew Carrie out to Chicago where she recorded a video with Artists and Brands. The company has been around since 2009, and according to their website, involvement increased employee engagement 10 percent and consumer engagement 30 percent.

Carrie said McDonald’s paid for everything, including the hotel and the cost of production for the video.

Voting on the Voice of McDonald’s website is open until Dec. 2, Carrie said. She will find out “just before or after Christmas” if she made finals in Orlando on April 28.

“Three people from America out of 25 (American contestants) make it,” Carrie said. “There are 16 total in finals from the world.”

Every country has their own rules and regulations for their semifinal rounds, Carrie said. In the United States, each contestant has a list of 40 songs to pick from, and the top three will continue to participate in the international final round in Orlando judged by a panel of experienced judges, according to the official contest website.

Carrie selected “When I Fall in Love” by Celine Dion.

She said she has been singing her entire life, but did not publicly display her talent until her father bribed her with a Christina Aguilera CD.

“She would sing in the car when she was three years old,” Walt said. “She would sing Whitney Houston, and it would be in perfect pitch.”

Carrie performed on Kelly’s Island at 11-years-old. Her father said the crowd loved it, and he and her mother had tears in their eyes.

“She told me, ‘Dad, when I sang, I got tingles all over,’ ” Walt said.

Since then, Carrie has won a number of competitions. Walt said his daughter won a contest for the music store FYE at the age of fourteen, when she was flown out to Las Vegas to sing. She has also been awarded the Shining Star Award in Lake County, won Greek Idol at Kent State and even competed in some Irish dancing competitions.

Her father, who minored in music while in college, played horn for Carrie’s band during her high school career, where she was one of the three lead singers.

The proud father said, “It really is exciting to perform music with your daughter.”

Carrie has appeared three times on the McDonald’s Voice of America contest and has worked at McDonald’s since 2008. Though, she said her dream job is in the music field.

“(This experience gives) exposure and publicity,” Carrie said. “I graduate in August and this can jumpstart my career. I’ve gained so many connections even from the first time that I still have. They still support me this time.”

Contact Jimmy Miller at [email protected].