Martin Luther King, Jr. would have been proud if he could have seen the astounding displays of talent that were performed in his honor at the 15th Annual H2E Talent Showcase on Friday night.
H2E, formally known as Hip Hop Explosion, is an event during the MLK weekend where the students of Eastern Michigan University are given a chance to showcase their various passions at Pease Auditorium for cash prizes, the top prize being $750. All the performers honored MLK’s legacy in their acts.
The program also boasts a number of appeals besides performances, including student hosts, randomly selected judges and the chance for audience members to compete for prizes and express their own thoughts on MLK day.
On the night before the big debut, the performers met in the auditorium for a rehearsal. The array of musicians, poets and actors all seemed at home in the spotlight as they prepared their acts. The duo of Kristen Kilo and Kyle Radabaugh were all smiles as they tuned a guitar and quietly warmed up their voices for a wholesome rendition of “Keep Holding On.”
“It’s kind of routine this time of year,” said Lydia Seale, a pianist and vocalist.
Seale brimmed with pride as she mentioned her recently released Christian inspirational album, “13:13.”
When the show’s charismatic hosts, Hannah Dickinson and Justin Schaffer, were asked if they had anything planned for the show, Schaefer opened his mouth to reply, but was quickly cut off by a side glance from Dickinson.
“There will be lots of surprises,” Dickinson said.
On the night of the event, students and their families flocked to Pease Auditorium to claim seats for the highly anticipated show. Rap music blared through a booming audio system as the audience took their seats.
Before the show began, audience members were instructed to look under their seats. After some excited and frantic searching, two audience members procured neon cards and were selected to be student judges. Acts would be judged on creativity, stage presence
The crowd left nothing to be desired as they clapped, snapped, whooped and hollered along with all the performers. There was an overwhelming emotional response to president of the Poetry Society Darius Simpson’s poem on the social and cultural norms he perceives every day. Armani Davis, who sang “I Believe” by Fantasia, earned the attention of everyone in the auditorium with her powerful voice. Overall, however, the true champion was Isaac Reimer, who was the highlight of the evening.
When Reimer strutted on stage, nobody knew what to expect. The hosts introduced his act as being simply a “performance.” When he started speaking, he spoke with an authentic Southern accent.
Reimer was telling an original story from the point of view of a reformed Southern slave owner. Everyone sat in awe as they listened to Reimer’s story of tragedy unfold, and watched the tears run down his face.
After a barrage of musical, comical and motivational performances, Reimer was named the winner of $750. Following him was rapper T-Trace, winning $500, and in third place was Seale, winning $250.
Surrounded by several of his friends, Reimer exclaimed he was “incredibly grateful” for the opportunity H2E had given him.
Before the show, co-director Dwayne Hunter said, “We want a variety of performances,” and that is exactly what he, and all those lucky enough to attend the 15th Annual H2E Talent Showcase, were granted. The event was aided by community sponsors, including Happy’s Pizza and Subway.
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