An Undercover History

Undercover is a live music competition where Illinois Wesleyan students compete on one of two stages for a cash prize. Students will have the opportunity to perform two cover songs with music ranging from acoustic ballads to today’s hits to rock classics. There will be a panel of guest judges but the student audience holds the most important vote.

Undercover has changed significantly throughout the years. In the beginning years of this competition, students auditioned with two cover songs according to Darcy Greder,

Greder has worked at IWU since August of 1977, so she has seen most of the Undercover performances. She has also been a judge for a number of them.  According to Greder, Undercover has always been very popular. She added, “The last several have been good entertainment, and seemed appropriate for the college crowd.”

This is the 23rd occurrence and 12th year that undercover has captivated audiences and judges. The Tentatives - winners of Undercover 23Kevin Clark worked at Illinois Wesleyan from 1999 to 2010. He was the Assistant Dean of Students and oversaw Student Activities and the Hansen Student Center. He created the Office of Student Activities as a formal office in early 2001. In January 2002, he opened the Hansen Student Center.  According to Kevin, “The Office of Student Activities served as the primary programming engine for the building.”

Undercover began during RA training in the spring of 2001 before Hansen opened. OSA worked with Paul Nesper, a Resident Advisor and a musician, when Paul suggested that we might want to do a music competition that showcased IWU talent.

In the beginning, OSA mostly had solo acts or duos. Over the years we had more and more bands get involved. In the early years we had a core group of performers that came back time and time again. Over the years we had so many performers on the night of that we created a “split stage” approach so that while someone was on the left stage the right stage was setting up so we would be able to go right into them.” Kevin also mentioned that Titan TV would broadcast Undercover shows periodically.

IWU also had a celebrity in its presence. “IWU alum Evan Kasprzak of So You Think You Can Dance fame, performed in his freshman year and he featured a tap solo in the middle of the song. His team won Undercover that year,” Kevin said. Recently past years have included the addition of celebrity hosts from American Idol as well as music comedy duo Da Kaboom.

Though IWU’s Undercover has changed throughout the years, one thing still remains, there is always a great turnout and Undercover entertains any type of student.