UB’s got talent

UB on Stage offers exposure to gifted students


After greeting the audience in the Center for the Arts, Hannah Keller apologized for her nervous jittery leg.

When Keller opened her mouth to perform “Feeling Good,” the last thing anyone was thinking about was her leg. Her unique voice and remarkable belting ability inspired a standing ovation among members of the adoring crowd.

“Any chance I get to be on stage and sing, I’ll jump on that chance,” said Keller, a freshman political science and music theatre major. “Although I get really nervous, it’s the one thing that makes me feel alive.”

UB on Stage gave talented students the chance to capture that feeling on three separate stages Thursday night at the Center for the Arts (CFA) during the first ever UB on Stage talent show.

Dance, music, poetry, rap, stand-up comedy and improv acts kept the audience on their toes during a night full of entertainment.

David Wedekindt, Director of Marketing for the Center for the Arts, put an emphasis on the importance of the event.

“UB on Stage gives UB students an opportunity to showcase their talents to their fellow students,” Wedekindt said. “We were amazed by the number of students who contacted us from across campus and majors to participate. We think it will be fun for students attending to find out that maybe the quiet student who sits near them in chemistry class might actually be a hilarious comedian, an amazing singer or even has some serious dance moves.”

Kari Quimpo, a senior health and human sciences major, played three original acoustic songs.

Quimpo was grateful for the opportunity to show off her quirky sound to the receptive audience.

“I think it’s really cool that the school offers such a welcoming environment where we can get everybody to perform,” Quimpo said. “I heard a lot of people signed up. I think that’s incredible because that means that a lot of people want to be heard. I just think it’s great that there’s an outlet here and a lot of people are interested in it.”

The atrium of the CFA offered two stages, one for dance and one for musical performances, while the screening room showcased comedians, singers, poets and other entertainers.

To kick off the event, the Latin American Student Association (LASA) performed a 10-minute set on the atrium’s dance stage.

The dancers were dressed in black and incorporated their International Fiesta performance into the routine, much to the delight of the audience.

UB Glee Club followed up on the music stage, performing Queen’s “Somebody to Love” and Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me.” The performance showcased the group’s individual vocals and allowed each member to shine.

Though the atrium held two main stages, the smaller screening room offered a new atmosphere for attendees.

As Lopsang Lama, an engineering major, performed Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours” and Lifehouse’s “You and Me,” the singer was overcome with emotion.

After his first song, Lama took his cupped hands off his face to reveal a massive smile. The crowd cheered relentlessly.

During the second verse of “I’m Yours,” the singer forgot a few lyrics, only to have the audience jump in and sing the words for him.
That same supportive crowd graciously took part in an Instagram live stream earlier in the night.

Jorel Cunningham, a freshman music major also known by his stage name Zetsumei Cry, invited students to stream while he shredded on his electric guitar. During an improvised solo, Cunningham streamed live to his own Instagram followers.

Cunningham appreciated the event for giving him the opportunity to share his unique talent.

“This is the perfect event to expose people to new things, as well as give the artists and people performing some exposure as well,” Cunningham said. “It’s not really every day that you see a black guy playing guitar. There are a lot of peculiar things you can see at shows like these. You can never really expect these things.”

UB on Stage shined the spotlight on many deserving students, while also being a welcoming event where students could mingle and enjoy a night of free entertainment and food.

While the talent show had no official winner, the engaged audience made everyone feel victorious.

Brenton Blanchet is a staff writer and can be reached at arts@ubspectrum.com