SPRING HILL — Pamela Cohen was hurrying through the student union building at Florida State University recently when she saw a big green tent. Then her eye caught a sign that mentioned a $5,000 prize.
The freshman economics major from Spring Hill went to class but returned later to the tent, where organizers were looking for participants in the Singing in the Shower contest, sponsored by Garnier Fructis, official hair care sponsor for the TV hit, American Idol.
Cohen, a 2008 graduate of Springstead High School, has been singing far beyond the shower for years. She earned spots with the Florida All State Chorus for six years. She performed in school musicals. She took piano lessons from age 3 through high school, winning awards at regional and state competitions.
Auditioning for the shower singing contest didn't faze the 19-year-old. Cohen picked up the microphone and crooned the song Low, by the singing group, Flor-i-da.
Contest officials gave her a DVD of a song, Fructis Flow, specially written for the sponsor. In her apartment, she said, "I listened to it over and over for more than an hour. Then I went back."
Wearing a black V-neck sweater, hip-hugger jeans and black boots, she belted out the number with dance moves that set her shoulder-length blond hair swirling and flying. Cohen was selected as FSU's entry in the contest.
The video of her performance, along with finalists from 11 other universities, can be viewed online at garnier.com/idol at the college contest portion. Visitors to the site are asked to vote for their favorite singer through Thursday.
Cohen and friends have rallied votes by mass e-mails through the university's student system and her fellow workers at the student union. Family and relatives have spread the word. Cohen also created a Facebook profile.
She said this week, "I think I have a decent chance, as much as anybody. It's just how many people know. It's not like American Idol, where everybody knows it."
The winner will receive a trip to Los Angeles in May for the American Idol finale, a makeover and a cash award.
Cohen, a dean's list student at FSU, is the daughter of Ron and Judith Cohen.
Beth Gray can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.