AU's Got Talent. Period.
After a tense presidential inauguration ceremony on Friday, many of us were just too worn out for the weekend. However, on Saturday night the annual Andrews University Talent Show commenced and alleviated some of those tensions. Providing Andrews University students the opportunity to indulge in the talents of their peers, the talent show, hosted by the Andrews University Student Association (AUSA), promoted a positive vibe for the weekend.
Assistant Dean of Men James Price, emcee for the Talent Show, began by clarifying that AU’s Got Talent did not have a question mark at end of its title. It is meant to be a statement, to define this university and its students’ artistic value. “AU’s got talent. Here it is.” This year’s show really showcased that talent and made it a statement—a force to be reckoned with.
Prior to the AU’s Got Talent, rumors circulated campus about AUSA’s inability to foster interest for talent show auditions. Yasmin Benjelloun, AUSA Social Vice President, said that while she was confident in the talent show, which was fully planned by December, “by Monday we only had two people signed up. It was kind of a shock.”
However, once word-of-mouth got out that there were great prizes for the winners, another 25 people signed up to audition, and AU’s Got Talent was planned. Chosen by attendee vote, the first place winner received $300, the second place winner received $200, and the third place winner received $100.
The show began with an original piece titled “Stand By,” a contemporary love song duet performed by Shaly Torres (junior, psychology) and Heather Moore (senior, psychology). Torres and Moore reminded the audience of the feelings of restlessness and breathlessness experienced when around a special someone.
Anna Gayle (freshman, psychology) followed with an original spoken word piece entitled “Abstract Expressions”. Gayle discussed the powerful struggle with the concept of “home” and sprinkled her piece with dark imagery. Gayle really wrenched us into the present to examine our own lives and the raw emotion some of us endure.
The band Mainspring, consisting of Taylor Bartram (senior, religion), Boone Menhardt (senior, communication), Nathan Verrill (senior, engineering), and Andrew Krause (senior, music), performed the 90s hit classic “All Star” by Smashmouth. Made famous by the Shrek movies, it was a fun act that centered on audience participation.
Rebecca Puii (sophomore, biochemistry, pre-medicine) shook the stage with her voice in her beautiful rendition of “How Far I’ll Go” from the Disney movie Moana. Dressed just like the young Hawaiian, she perfectly captured the look and feel of the recent Disney favorite. Despite having her audio cut out mid-song, she grabbed a guitar and soldiered on with an acoustic finish that left everyone cheering.
Daph Fenaud (first year, Master of Divinity) grabbed our attention and captivated with his spoken word composition “My Prayer,” a humorous and lighthearted rant about the struggles men face finding that perfect woman, and the serious and sincere plea for women to not be led astray by a guy who just knows how to say the right things.
Christine Neveu-Cathian (first year, Masters of Religious Education) sang the classic hymn “This Too Shall Pass” with an enchanting and powerful twist, securing her third place and $100.
Next, Joiliana Lecointe’s (freshman, biology, pre-medicine) performance of “Colorblind” by Amber Riley. Lecointe, with a strong but graceful voice, put the audience on memory lane. When the song began, there was immediately a cheer from many of the females in the audience.
The next act, easily grabbing the spotlight, and securing first place for the grand prize of $300, was Andrew Gagiu (sophomore, engineering), Brandon Shin (freshman, biology, pre-medicine), and Jeremy Ahn (sophomore, music, engineering). The trio performed a medley of AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” and Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal”. The three played their cellos in perfect unity, synchronized during some parts but occasionally diverging into three unique solos with raw, individual attitude, even challenging each other mid-song.
This was followed up by a performance of Arlissa’s “Hearts Ain’t Gonna Lie” by Jéssica Luís Felício (senior, architecture). Felício carried the audience’s heart and soul into the organic tension of relationships and the changes people undergo with the passage of time.
Jonathan Constantine (junior, pre-nursing) gave us a humble yet majestic rendition of the classic “Better Than I” from the movie Joseph: King of Dreams. Having seen the movie, I was immediately brought back to my childhood Sabbath afternoons with my little brother.
The duo of Melody Nelwan (freshman, wellness) and Htee Mu (freshman, music) performed Beyoncé’s “Listen”. This was a pleasant, full vocal performance that embraced a certain warmth that Beyoncé’s music tends to emit.
Lastly, the night’s big finale belonged to the second place winner, Cameron Van Buren (senior, communication), who performed his original rap composition, “Van Gogh”. The piece was the perfect way to end the night, as it pleasantly surprised the audience with a strong buildup and rhythmic beats that were impossible not to dance to. When that bass dropped and the chorus started, people jumped out of their seats and danced along. Van Buren really worked the crowd and gave the audience that big finish that we all expect at performances.
Overall, this year’s AU Got Talent not only entertained, but it made a statement: that we are Andrews University, and we don’t mess around when it comes to the arts.