UAMS College of Medicine Student Shines on “The Voice”

By Linda Satter

In early August, as the 22-year-old from Hot Springs was preparing to begin medical school at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), he was also in Los Angeles auditioning for “The Voice,” the popular NBC televised singing competition now in its 22nd season.

He ended up making it onto “The Voice” — with a four-chair turn, no less — and he also ended up making it to classes, which began Aug. 8.

A four-chair turn is when all four coaches listening to auditions in which they can only hear but not see the contestant signal that they want the singer on their team. It is the best outcome a contestant can ask for during the initial blind auditions.

Now, Igbokidi continues to pursue both endeavors. In the show that aired Oct. 18, he won the first singing battle with another contestant to remain in the running for $100,000 and a recording contract. He has recorded his participation in the next competition, known as the Three-Way Knockouts, with results scheduled to be televised the second week of November. Live competitions follow.

Meanwhile, Igbokidi is concentrating on his first year of medical school, encouraged by a previous job as a certified nursing assistant in a hospital, the “very close loss” of a loved one to COVID-19 in a Nigerian health care facility and a scholarship to UAMS. He was one of five recipients of an inaugural Dean’s Scholarship — a full tuition, four-year scholarship awarded to students who demonstrated academic promise and met other criteria.

He said the painful loss “made me realize that more people who truly care about not just the physical but also the mental well-being of those in need have to be at the forefront of the health care system.”

He said that made him reevaluate his concerns about joining a profession that took his mother, a Hot Springs cardiologist, away from the family too often as he was growing up.

“I noticed her absence in certain parts of my life,” such as when she was on call and missed his basketball games, Igbokidi said. Though the idea of having to miss family events deterred him from a medical career initially, he said, “I soon realized that if my mom was missing some important moments in our lives, it must have been for something she was very passionate about and that she loved. And I sort of found my way into that passion individually.”

“A big hope and dream of mine as a potential physician would be to open up a few clinics in rural and underserved areas,” Igbokidi said. “The goal would be to aid in the rounding out and development of the health care system in those regions because so many people there aren’t receiving the care they deserve and need.”

Igbokidi outside UAMS

Igbokidi outside UAMS

Asked how he juggles medical school with periodic flights to Los Angeles, he said the producers of “The Voice” “are very accommodating. They’re extremely kind and flexible, and we’ve worked out a schedule.”

He said he also can virtually attend many of his classes.

Igbokidi graduated in 2021 from the University of Central Arkansas in Conway with a degree in biology after attending Hot Springs Lakeside High School, where he also excelled at basketball.

He is the son of Hot Springs residents Oyidie Igbokidi, M.D., and Gregory Igbokidi, who owns the Belle of Hot Springs riverboat that offers dinner and sightseeing cruises. The Nigerian immigrants met in the United States and were living in Chicago when Andrew, their third child, was born. At the time, his mother was completing her medical residency. A younger sister followed.

Igbokidi said that while his mother’s profession played a role in his desire to attend medical school, his interest in music definitely cannot be traced to his parents.

“There’s not a musical bone in my parents’ bodies,” he said, shrugging when asked how he and his older brother and sister developed a love and talent for singing. His siblings, meanwhile, are also pursing medical careers. His brother has a master’s degree in hospital administration, his older sister is studying to be a nurse practitioner and his younger sister is in nursing school.

He said he tried out for “The Voice” as “kind of a random thing,” having performed previously for a few months on his father’s cruise ship.

“I’ve always loved music and performing and so I just wanted to try something out, and then it just kept on going and going,” he said.

Asked what he would do if he goes on to win “The Voice,” Igbokidi said, “I wouldn’t know because it’s just so much, you know. One of my storylines is music versus medicine. I genuinely do not know. I know that I don’t want to give up my education or the work that I’ve done to get into medical school, and I don’t want to give up music, so maybe I’ll find a way to do both.”