Program Board Open Mic Night creates platform for students to share talents, art
Program Board provided a stage for student musicians, dancers and poets to exhibit their talents in their first Open Mic Night on Feb. 19.
This evening was to showcase the Mount Pleasant entertainment scene in the Bovee University Center Rotunda, said Program Board Concert Director Grace Pawluszka.
The event was hosted by Haruki Hakoyama, member of local soul-pop group, the Paddlebots. Hakoyama introduced several student performers -- including acoustic guitarists, singers, poets and a hip-hop dance group.
Pawluszka, a senior from Warren, said the goal was to create a relaxing evening for students to take a break from studying and share their art.
She said this year Program Board aimed to provide diversity in their programming and entertainment acts, by allowing all genres of art, music and talent to have a voice through their organization.
"This is more of a chance to feature our students and local community members," Pawluszka said. "We're really happy we can put on events like this and hope students take advantage of experiences like these to hear different performers and get to know different kinds of music, whether it's outside artists or our local artists."
Chesterfield freshman Brennen Malaga said he came to the event looking forward to experiencing his first ever open mic event.
"It's a very relaxed, comforting and open vibe here," Malaga said. "It's really important people come out to events like these, because you really do get exposed to new things and a huge diversity of art."
Mount Pleasant junior Gilbert Melvin-Zenon, manager of hip-hop and R&B collective, Abstract Generation, was invited to perform at the event by host Hakoyama.
Through a collaborative hip-hop dance, Melvin-Zenon aimed to "liven up the vibe" and encourage other students to get up and show off their talent.
He said events like Program Board's open mic are extremely important to young performers at Central Michigan University.
"There is a lot of people who don't get to express their talent or don't have a platform to express their talent, so it's hard for people," Melvin-Zenon said. "I know there's a lot of talented people, but they don't know where to connect or find people to help them perform."
Melvin-Zenon said the event was a step in the right direction for bringing the Mount Pleasant art community together.
"There's a lot of people that need to work together to make it bigger," he said. "I think if everyone worked together as the entertainment community in Mount Pleasant it may be really big and nice. Mount Pleasant needs to be on the map too."
One of the first performers of the evening was Troy senior Garrett Ritterhaus who kicked off the night with an original poem, "How I Met My Future Wife on Tinder."
Ritterhaus said the evening was the ideal opportunity for him to converse with others and to share his message of love.
"Anytime people are showing their talents and giving them a platform to share whatever they love to do is awesome," he said. "The energy is always up and everyone is always happy about it."
His poem confronted concepts of love and how they are mistreated in modern society. The poem discussed the popular dating app, Tinder, and how it limits actual opportunities to finding "true, worth-while love and connections."
"People need to go out and discover each other's passions and likes and dislikes, and that's a message that just really needs to be spread," Ritterhaus said. "I chose to say it just because it needs to be said."