Bringing the Hype to the Stage in Central’s Talent Show
By Mikayla Kimery
Performing for the 2017 Central Talent Show hit me more than just competing for a title. Meeting everyone from their respective halls across campus was more rewarding than any prize. From musicians to comedians to speakers, the diversity of abilities in the room promised encouragement, excitement, and lots of practice.
Personally, I enjoy performing for large crowds, so preparing for this event was more anxiety inducing than the actual performance. Although I live in Stephens-Whitney, they don’t have a piano so I am always over in my residence hall from last year, Moore, hogging theirs. It was during one of these music sessions that my other Central Campus RAs that live in that building, asked me to audition for their hall. I happily obliged and sang my song for them – by happily obliged I mean they wouldn’t let me leave the building until I performed for them – which was “Creep” by Radiohead.
Performance Preparation 101
I had spent hours that day trying to pick a song to audition with. I have a very interesting range and a pretty breathy tone so when it comes to picking something in the middle it doesn’t always work out. When I had settled on “Creep”, it seemed perfect. I was really surprised at how well it worked with my voice, especially because the song itself is so different and darker than my personal character, but I really connect emotionally to the song so I went with it and I enjoyed strengthening my musicianship while practicing it.
That brings me to the big chunk of time. When you’re going to perform for potentially hundreds of people, you get a little obsessive. I sang in the shower (great acoustics by the way, 10/10 recommend), in Moore hall, on my way to classes, and everywhere in between. As far as the style that I sang the song in, since I was playing it on the piano and singing it at the same time, a big inspiration for me was Brian Justin Crum’s cover of the song; which, he auditioned with for America’s Got Talent last year, 2016. It was his audition that really connected me to the song in the first place, and he still serves as a huge inspiration to me as a singer.
Nerves Going up, on a Tuesday
After practicing for four days straight, the day finally came for our rehearsal. Freaking out over the fact that I was playing a keyboard versus a piano – which, I really did not need to freak out at all, it’s not THAT different, but I’m still glad I was cautious – the staff that put on the talent show graciously allowed me to come in an hour before our determined rehearsal to jam out to my heart’s content. I am extremely grateful that I was able to have that time to settle into a new environment, and I truly think it’s imperative as a performer to find your groove in the performance space with ample time before the actual show.
Laughing and learning more about each other really helped calm down our nervous jitters.
The whole group came together at 4 p.m., and we ran through introductions, the whole line up, and other little details such as mics and entrances/exits. After hearing some great laundry songs, some really awkward sea life jokes, and beautiful singing, we all headed to get dinner before the show. Laughing and learning more about each other really helped calm down our nervous jitters.
6 p.m. rolled around, and it was time for us to gather for call time. If you would have walked into the CWU’s green room last night, you would have found a group of talented individuals harmonizing to songs simultaneously playing on four guitars, hilarious and cringy dad jokes, and multiple sounds and shakes of anxiety. Everyone was so encouraging and we all tried our best to lift each other up while suppressing our nerves. I was towards the end – third to last to be exact – and so I had plenty of time to build up my nervousness throughout the show. I was blessed to have a couple of friends I previously knew in the show, Jordan Richardson from Sue Lombard and Jake Hassebrock from Hitchcock. They were extremely helpful in calming me down prior to going on, and so was a new friend, the awkwardly hilarious comedian, Seth Sonnteg from Davies. If he ever runs up to you and asks if you want to hear a joke, don’t hesitate to say yes; you won’t regret it – well you might, but that’s beside the point – he’s really funny!
Finally, it was my turn, and I ascended the stage after great MCs Evan Richardson and Giovanni Severino announced my name. Waving as I entered, I sat down at the keyboard, adjusted my microphone to my height – short girl probs – and proceeded to start singing… when I noticed my microphone was off.
The crowd was so supportive, shouting out their love and encouragement
Hearing the murmur of the crowd as they discussed the mic was off, I did what any trained performer would do. I kept going. Luckily, I heard MC Richardson’s footsteps behind me, who was able to turn on my microphone and I was able to restart. The crowd was so supportive, shouting out their love and encouragement as I readjusted and prepared to restart. As I began I was happy to hear myself through the speakers, and decided to let go of anxiety and focus on my breath support, something that is critical for any singer, especially if you’re sitting down.
More Than a Song
Powering through with the help of Jesus, I found the sweet spot in my tone and rolled with it, focusing on my emotional portrayal. Something that hits home for me in this song is the lyrics, “I want a perfect body, I want a perfect soul,” because it pains me to think of how we all strive so hard for that perfection that it has become subconscious. We tell ourselves and others that we really don’t care because we don’t want others to even see the hurt that hides behind our drive for improvement in things that aren’t truly imperative. In society there’s such a pressure on appearance, not just physical but in our emotions and our behaviors that requires us to forget humility and vulnerability for the sake of being liked; at the end of the day though, it’s those vulnerable moments of self-discovery and awareness that promise the most growth.
It’s those key personal development skills that were truly present last night. Being surrounded by several talented performers, it really lit up the room to see everyone making mistakes, asking for feedback, and growing in skill in just the couple hours prior to the performance. If you want to make friends, grow as a performer, and learn valuable skills that last for a life time, I encourage you to try out for next year’s competition in your residence hall. Everyone has their own special niche inside of them, and no matter who you are, no one can take that away from you.
I would just like to say a huge thank you to my RAs for pushing me to perform and for always encouraging me to share my voice. Another thank you to the CWU Residence Hall Association for putting on this awesome show, and to the other staff members that helped immensely before, during, and after the event. Last but not least, thank you to all of the performers for sharing your talents and encouragement, continue to shine on!
All photos provided by the ASCWU.