The Pembroke Activities Council hosted its 25th annual Talent Showcase on March 22. Over 500 students and staff attended. UNCP senior Joshua Oxendine claimed the $250 firstplace prize with his performance of “Titanium” by David Guetta.
Other winners included second place contestants India Johnson and Deja Weaver, who won $125, and third place performer Mia Baxley, who took home $75. The Johnson and Weaver duo performed a vocal cover of “Killing Me Softly” by Lauryn Hill.
UNCP alumna Lindsay Hankins gave a piano accompaniment. Baxley performed a dance routine to the song “Power,” by the K-Pop group EXO. Another Pembroke alumnus, David Williams, kicked off the show with a performance of “A Change Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke.
The performance, which was not part of the contest, was made to commemorate his victory in the talent showcase at UNCP from years ago. The night marked 20 years since Williams won the 1998 event. Lamar Courmon and 2017 Homecoming King Deon Perry hosted this year’s show. Courmon and Perry kept the crowd engaged with jokes and social media interactions.
Audience members tweeted at the hosts and they read several of the comments, which included compliments and playful jabs at the hosts on stage as part of a “Roast Your Hosts” segment of the show. There was even a dance competition between audience members who volunteered.
“That was a big thing, for the crowd to be interactive and engaging throughout the show,” Courmon said. “Hopefully that will get people to come out to more events.”
“We’re doing it for the crowd, we’re not doing it for ourselves,” Perry said. “[Crowd engagement] is almost as important as the performers.” Both hosts felt good about the audience participation and the overall turnout. 2018 was the return of the event being hosted in the Givens Performing Arts Center, according to Perry.
“We’re trying to get back to that tradition of having it here,” Perry said. Perry and Courmon both highlighted the importance of the talent show as a platform to showcase the hidden talent at UNC-Pembroke. Perry enjoyed seeing fresh faces performing in the showcase, and commended Baxter and other new performers for being brave enough to perform in front of an unfamiliar crowd.
Perry shared in the entertainers’ experience of performing before a large crowd for the first time. He previously co-hosted the Campus MovieFest in a smaller venue in the UC Annex, but had to grow his stage presence for the larger GPAC audience.
“This was my first time to host an event, in GPAC, of this size, I was definitely kind of nervous too,” he said. “Roast Your Hosts” was Perry’s favorite part of the show. He credited it to calming him down and bridging the gap between the audience and hosts.
“Nobody wants to talk positive about themselves all the time...You have to be able to laugh at yourself,” Perry said.