The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


Black Student Union Showcase: a new Chatham tradition?

On Friday, February 7, the Black Student Union rocked Eddy Theatre with their first Showcase-–a series of performances honoring African-American art and culture.

The show started when DJ Flipwave played rap through the speakers while audience members filed in their seats. A few minutes later, hosts Jay Oriola and Jasmine Parker took the stage. Doing a bit of stand-up, they introduced the evening’s performers, who hailed from Chatham University, Carnegie Mellon, and the University of Pittsburgh.

Divided into thirds, the Showcase began with the section entitled Coming to America in which a number of moving spirituals, African dances, and religious poems were presented. Diamond Gorman opened with a short song that was then followed by the Ya’Baso Dance Team, Some of God’s Children Gospel Choir, a faithful rendition of Sam Cooke by Charles Davis and more.

One of the night’s most memorable moments was when the theater went dark with only a couple of lights from backstage casting a streak of blue upon the stage as the Willie Lynch Syndrome Speech was read by an unseen cast member.

Although the speech (once purported to be an authentic transcript from the 1700s) was written sometime in the 20th century by an anonymous author, it was chosen by the BSU to highlight the mistreatment and dehumanization of Africans in the early days of slavery. The theater, which had before been filled with cheers and laughter, fell into a hushed silence.

The following section, The Awakening, moved into the 20th century when African-American art gained a larger following. Audiences went wild seeing the two step selections by the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and the Anointed Steps of Faith, and applauded Diamond Gorman (covering Etta James), Charles Davis and Some of God’s Children as they returned to sing again.

What stood out most in the second act was Cramer’s acoustic performance. Described by Oriola as having an “angelic-like voice,” the entire audience was stunned by the soul she put into both her vocals and her guitar playing. After she exited the stage, a video presentation called “I Was Here” played.

These moving pieces were followed by a brief Intermission that included a raffle drawing. Three different guests won Chatham University merchandise from the Bookstore before the final act–Modern Day and Age–began. Another short video presentation played before Jeremiah Davis returned for a second poem called “God’s Painting” that touched metaphorically on issues of race and diversity.

Soulstylz danced before high schooler Essence Criswell took the stage to deliver one of the best spoken word performances of the evening: “Hair”. Host Jay Oriola — an excellent comedian–came up and performed his own piece of poetry called “Poets” that explained the life and perception of artists, a subject that many people in the audience connected with. Finally, Cramer came on to steal the show once more before Ya’Baso closed out the show with the popular “Kukere”.

With all luck, the Black Student Union Showcase will become an annual Black History Month event at Chatham University and will be enjoyed–with new, but equally moving, numbers and performers–for years to come.

Leave a Comment

Comments (0)

All Communiqué Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *