The annual Howard University Springfest Talent Showcase brought the student body together last week through a display of artistry and camaraderie. Participating students illustrated their talent through the mediums of spoken word, rapping, singing, and dancing.
The showcase, sponsored by YouTube Black’s Future Insiders program and the Tom Joyner Foundation, took place on April 8. inside Cramton Auditorium where students waited until doors opened at 6 p.m. with a line that stretched all the way to Douglass Hall.
DJ Kamau, a current student at Howard University, kept the audience entertained throughout the show with a mix of songs ranging from the 2000s to the 2010s. A thread of feel-good and throwback songs kept the crowd’s energy alive, while the “LitCam” captured students’ reactions as they waited for the show to begin.
With the energy high, hosts Armaní Washington and Anasia Harrell were met with applause as students were finally ready for the show to start.
With 11 Howard artists set to perform, students were in for a three-hour show. Freshman Ife Martin started the showcase with a spoken word performance, one of which paid homage to her hometown of Detroit.
Singer and rapper Adrian Parris took the stage after Martin, and sophomore Afro-Beats artist Dolapo Adesanya, whose stage name is TyWithTheBeannie, followed afterward. Introducing himself to the audience, TyWithTheBeannie proclaimed, “I’m the only Howard Afro-Beats artist on campus.” His remake of the classic country song “Jolene,” and his love-inspired single “No One Else,” earned him a standing ovation.
His performance led him to tie in second place with artist, singer and rapper June whose organization, 360, showcased their support in huge numbers taking up the first four rows of the right side of the auditorium.
Following Ty was artist and singer hoodie.jayy came out on stage with his mom on the phone to celebrate his big moment and performed new songs off his current album, Rakes and Roses.
The next performer was junior math major and secondary education minor, Josh Hughes whose stage name is Jus Josh. Jus Josh blurred the line between singing and rapping. “I gotta keep it a bean, I’m turning up Howard University with social activism through art,” he said before launching into his song “Keep It a Bean.” Jus Josh received third place.
An intermission followed Jus Josh’s performance where students, still high in the energy from the performances, delved into classic dances like the “Jerk” and the HBCU traditional swag surf, and shared who their favorite performers were.
(Surf video and student questions here)
The artist 7iah kicked off the second part of the show following intermission with his songs “Bag!”, “Intoxicated,” and “HGV.” Singer Phyllise Jade went after and encouraged the audience to “never let your crown slip,” a song she recently released a music video for.
The switch from intermission to student performance affected the audio of both Jade and 7iah as their mic battled the volume of their music. Both managed to overcome the issue with increased stage presence.
The audio was fixed by the time Blu, most known by his poet name jaziyyahh, performed his spoken word poems. The senior School of Business student won first place at the showcase. His first poem, “My God Is,” held a special significance to him.
“It feels great to win first place,” he said. “I worked really hard on this poem for the past six months. I remember a time where I thought I was going to stop writing but moments like these exactly let you know that you gotta keep doing what you’re doing.”
TyWithTheBeannie, June, and Jus Josh also spoke to the significance of their win.
“I just want to say thank you to everyone who helped me throughout this process, thank you to the crowd they really supported me, and it’s just an amazing feeling for real,” TyWithTheBeannie said.
June echoed a similar sentiment saying, “Post-performance is so much love, so much peace, and prosperity. There’s a lot of great artists, great community coming together.” She went on to say, “It’s amazing to see how creativity can impact the community.”
Jus Josh expressed his gratitude for being able to perform. “I’m just so beyond thankful for the opportunity to just perform and share my art,” he said. “I think anytime I’m able to be recognized for my talent and for my craft is just an amazing opportunity and I just thank God for all the opportunities he’s given me in my life.”
The last artists to perform were Elan Suave who got the crowd moving with his single “Referee,” June who performed a few songs including her hit song “Smile,” and rapper freshman Me’Kayla Chenai. “I’m new around here but don’t you ever forget the name,” Chenai chanted.
The winners were chosen based on five categories: Stage Presence, Clarity, Body Language, Lyricism, Voice and Cadence according to hosts Washington and Harell.
The judges were Howard alum Brittany Lewis, creator of Rap Caviar Tuma Basa, entertainment coach Tyressa Ty, and upcoming artist yvngxchris.
The sponsorship offered high stakes for winning contestants: the first-place winner won the opportunity to perform at Springfest and get flown out to Florida to perform at an event sponsored by the Tom Joyner Foundation.
The second-place winners also received the opportunity to perform at Springfest as well as a $1,500 scholarship. The third-place winner received a $1,000 scholarship. All scholarships were sponsored by the Tom Joyner Foundation.
Copy edited by Nhandi Long-Shipman