BY ERIC CAULFIELD
SC Staff Writer
On Friday, February 15, 2013 at 8 PM, the first “Love Jones Open Mic” was introduced to East Stroudsburg University students at the Common Grounds on campus. Love Jones Open Mic included an eclectic group of performers, such as a saxophonist, keyboardist, singers, poets, and rappers, each with a message, ranging from inspirational to provocative.
Though many of the performers were prescheduled for the event, a number of members of the audience participated with their own creative work, including freshmen, and transfer students. Tambria Lee was the lead organizer of the event who introduced the performers and announced upcoming events such as the Patricia Graham Divine 9 Step Show, which will be March 2 at 6 PM in Abeloff Center, while promoting the African American Student Alliance and Black History Month.
ESU’s Common Grounds, transformed by the soulful entertainers, elegant setting, and dynamic crowd, gave the impression of a center-city jazz club. David Canady on Saxophone led the way for song performances by Jenny Foster, Drew Johnson, Miss Ebony, and Brittney Rollerson.
The Common Grounds filled up quickly, with people standing in the back and towards the exit door. In-between the acts, raffle tickets were randomly selected for the upcoming step show.
The crowd attending the Open Mic kept an energetic and encouraging mood, responding to the occasional delay, or technical hiccup with praise.
“I really liked seeing how unified everyone was, but the event could have been more organized,” said Darryl Lancaster-Smith, an interviewed student.
Jasmine Devine, Melanie Rodriguez, Philipp Anthony, and Dominique Washington were among the anticipated poets that arrived. Edmund Howie, a poet and entrepreneur transfer student from Kenya, surprised the crowd when he gave away free t-shirts and wrist bands, promoting his merchandise and movement “Failure 2 Fail” which supports the resilience required in order to succeed.
“There was great atmosphere and unity,” said Francheskn Brackins, a visiting guest; most others from the crowd agreed that they would return if another Open Mic were to be held.
The song performances proved to be superb, yet the poems and raps varied in quality, some lyrically distinct and witty, others fairly cliché. A few comedy acts kept things moving and lightened the mood set by previous and more serious performances. Those listening were visibly and verbally on the same page as those speaking, as crowd reactions could be seen and heard line-by-line.
The live stage delivered inspiration, cries of heartache, calls for action, and well received soulful expression.
The second Love Jones Open Mic will work out the kinks the first one endured, and deliver the show the audience now expects.
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