The Family Weekend Talent Show was last Saturday, ending the activities of Family Weekend.
There were 12 performances judged by Roger Best, interim president; Keondrin McClish, UCM alumna; Jim Gulbranson, graduate student in the college student personnel administration program; and Isabel Anderson, sophomore events, marketing and management major.
Zach Moore, junior criminal justice major, received first place performing an original song on guitar. He has been playing guitar for seven years.
Devon Schmidt is a senior music technology major. He performed a marching snare drum solo and received second place. With the house lights turned off surprising everyone, he had a small purple light on his instrument that lit up only when he banged on the drum, creating an interesting effect for the audience.
Schmidt also plays for the Chiefs drum line, The Rumble, and said he started taking drum lessons in fifth grade to prepare himself for middle school band.
“I played a lot of different percussion instruments but snare drum was always my favorite and I didn’t want to stop playing once I graduated,” he said. “I had seen the Marching Mules at the band competition that UCM hosts and I knew I had to be in it. It’s pretty cool that I went from a high school kid in the stands to the drum line section leader for the Marching Mules.”
He said The Rumble is the best job he’s ever had.
“My high school percussion teacher and former UCM teachers and students have been in the group before and it’s awesome that I get to perform with some of them now,” he said. “I’m not the most hype person out there, but when I have the drum on and drunk Chiefs fans are dancing around and taking pictures, I feel like a rock star. Plus, I get paid to do something I would gladly do for free.”
Ashli Morgan, communications major, performed with an ensemble that included her husband Matthew Morgan and received third place.
The Polynesian dancers opened for the Family Weekend talent show, and were the winners of last year’s talent show.
The members of the group are Tanielu Matautia, Danny Matautia; senior criminal justice major; Demelio Tua, sophomore criminal justice major; Nathaniel Tuamoheloa, senior computer science major; Daniel Heleta, sophomore mathematics major; Nolan Puletasi, junior business major; and Pita Fanolua, junior business major.
“I would like to say the reason why we got into Polynesian dancing is basically because we feel like it’s a way to share not only our talent but a way to share our culture,” Matautia said. “Since all six of us have been here in America for a long time and away from our families, we use dancing to stay true to who we are. Since we did not have the chance to compete again this year, we were grateful for the opportunity that we had to perform again in front of families and loved ones.”
Matautia said winning the talent show last year was a great experience for their group. He said they dance to entertain people and share their culture.
“All of us have some experience with Polynesian dancing when we’re young, but not all of us know each other from back home,” he said. “As far as us dancing together, we have no prior experience but we’re from tight-knit community. Every performance we do for UCM, we just practice for it five days before the event. Four out of six people in this group are currently serving in the military, which is one thing that we’re proud of.”
- Isaac Barkley performed his song with Vernon Percy Howard III as IKE and VP3. They have collaborated on songs together and have songs on iTunes and Spotify.
Barkley, a junior music technology major, said he grew up in a musical family ad was taught to play instruments. He said toward the end of high school he started focusing on music technology and started producing and writing pop music.
“For the past few years, I’ve been creating original songs and releasing them on Spotify, iTunes and more,” he said. “I’ve also worked with friends on creating new songs, including VP. The talent show was a fun and energetic experience. I’m glad VP and I were able to perform my song together.”
Barkley said his future goals are to work in a recording studio, write and produce original content for a label and work with bigger artists.
“I also hope to spread my music to a larger audience and gain a bigger following,” he said. “The ultimate goal some day is to win a Grammy.”
Vernon Percy Howard III, senior digital media production major, performed with IKE at the Family Weekend Talent Show.
“Although IKE and I are both solo artists, we’ve decided to collab on future projects,” he said. “The talent show was a dope opportunity for us to experiment with how we can perform as a unit in upcoming shows and concerts.”
Jack Mason is a junior digital media production major. He has been playing piano for nine years and performed a song he wrote for his grandfather. He said he started playing piano when he was younger, as he was always surrounded by music.
“My dad is in a band and had always inspired me to play music myself,” he said. “However, I actually don’t even know how to read sheet music, but I write my own and I learned by ear.”
Mason said he was nervous to perform at the talent show, but his girlfriend Dana Swisher encouraged him to get out of his comfort zone.
“I had never played in front of a crowd before so I really didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “I felt as if I was going to pass out when the curtains opened, but once I started playing, I was golden. Playing in front of that many people is truly an experience I will remember for a lifetime.”
He said he wrote the song for his grandfather as he had just suffered from a stroke at the time and believed he was going to die.
“He had recently passed away last October, so I dedicate the song to him,” Mason said. “The song doesn’t have a name, because I feel that names would change the experience for the listener. The song is personable to how anyone feels. It could be the happiest song they ever heard or the complete opposite.”
Eleanor Panico, freshman musical theatre major, danced to the song “Open Hands” by Laura Story.
Rachel Sporleder is a sophomore biology major and sang “Lost Boy” by Ruth B for the talent show.
“I guess you could say I just formed a natural passion for singing,” she said. “I started putting on small performances for my family at the age of two and I have continued to sing since that young age.”
She said her experience at the UCM talent show was amazing.
“There were so many great people involved and so many talented people to get to know,” she said. “I’m glad I was a part of it.”
Sarah Perrin, senior English major, performed “The Best Day” by Taylor Swift. She has played guitar since middle school and was taught by her father.
Bryn Medley, graduate student in the speech language pathology program, performed a hoop dance. She has been hoop dancing since she was 13 years old.
All photos by Kaitlin Brothers.