Talent show showcases artists bearing intimate emotions
Tears were wept, emotions fluttered, and passion was at a premium at Phenomenal Voice’s talent show aptly titled “Love Jones.”
The program on February 23 encouraged performers to articulate their feelings about their respective relationships. This included everything from romantic, platonic, parental and self-love.
Performers were challenged with being vulnerable while simultaneously making a connection with the audience.
Vulnerability is an abstract concept that does not come easy to most, yet one after the other, poets and singers demonstrated a blend of talent and courage to deliver powerful and raw performances.
One artist, stage name “KingQuinc,” read a poem titled “ShowOwt,” where he described his desire to pleasure his woman of choice.
“God blessed me to have an amazing imagination to picture the things I write without it actually happening,” said KingQuinc, real name Quincy Lassiter.
“As far as vulnerability goes, in all my pieces I always go by the mantra ‘live your truth,’” he said.
The poem meticulously described the distinct ways he wanted to gratify this woman, only pausing to give room for the vocals of his accompanying performer.
Singer Akua Williams complemented his poem with suggestive snippets of “Rocket” by Beyoncé. The oohs and aahs of the crowd could be heard throughout Lassiter and Williams’ sensual piece.
“I believe in order for the crowd to understand me I have to make sure I say things people may be uncomfortable saying out loud, because it gives people comfortability to be themselves under any circumstances,” Lassiter said.
The process of bearing one’s soul to a public audience is welcomed by some, and dreaded by others. However, performer Shanelle Webster finds it central to her art.
“I’m always giving the audience a piece of myself when I perform. The process can be uncomfortable even sometimes mentally and emotionally draining,” acknowledges Shanelle Webster.
Her spoken word unraveling of depressions’ pitfalls, titled “I Love Depression,” seemed like an authentic recollection of a first-hand experience. It was met with pause and concern, but it was also meet with cheers and appreciation from the audience, a thank you for revealing her internal struggle.
“I’ll take the ugly route in hopes of helping someone else by being their voice,” declares Webster.
Phenomenal Voices is a tight-knit group, so when Miriam Joseph, President of Serendipity, joined the lineup for the show, she was deeply moved by the bond the group shared. The constructive criticism and positive reinforcement she received from fellow performers motivated her to dig deep and allow herself to expose her emotions.
“I felt inspired to give my performance everything I have,” describes Joseph, whose cover of R&B singer NAO’s “Blue Wine” was met with a warm reception.
She describes her fear of performing as a soloist in front of crowds, and the way in which she overcame this fear with the help of her new-found support system.
“I wanted to make my new PV (phenomenal voices) family proud and I wanted to make myself proud.”