Students express themselves for a chance to open for India Arie

Jaclyn Rymer

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






May Deratani, 22, sociology/criminology major was one of the two chosen from Espressions open mic night to open for India.Arie.  Deratani recited her poem on a rape incident that she experienced about five years ago. Since then, she has been involved in rape awareness and self-defense awareness both at CSUN and in the community. Photo Caption: Hannah Pedraza / Photo Editor

May Deratani, 22, sociology/criminology major was one of the two chosen from Espressions open mic night to open for India.Arie. Deratani recited her poem on a rape incident that she experienced about five years ago. Since then, she has been involved in rape awareness and self-defense awareness both at CSUN and in the community. Photo Caption: Hannah Pedraza / Photo Editor

An array of artists took the stage during Espressions, an open mic night, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday in the University Student Union Games Room for an opportunity to be the opening act for India.Arie.

Twenty-five different poets, singers, creative writers, musicians and spoken word artists performed pieces through their respective mediums of expression and two CSUN students, May Derataini also known as Lady May and spoken word artist Cashmere were chosen by the judging panel to open up for Arie during her Under the Stars concert last Friday.

Arie was not directly involved in selecting her opening acts. However, a panel of student judges had the task of choosing two performers that would be compatible with Arie’s musical style and message said Shanell Tyus, one of the panel judges and community director of the University Village Apartments.

The judges selected the winners on criteria such as presence, voice articulation and overall performance, Tyus added.

Both winning acts silenced the crowd with their dynamic and entertaining, yet considerably different styles.

Lady May was the fourth student to take the stage performing two original spoken word pieces. The first was her audition piece that she performed for the Arie concert while the second piece depicted a rather heavy message that sent chills throughout the room regarding her personal experience with rape.

Cashmere was the 17th act to approach the stage. He executed a powerful political audition piece, which evolved into more of a rap as the live band gradually picked up a beat and began playing softly in the background.

The night was not completely focused on auditions. Many students just came to perform and share their pieces with fellow classmates while others simply came for the entertainment.

Felix Idiga read his own original poem for the first time in front of a crowd during his audition.

“It felt like home,” Idiga said. “It was my first time but it felt like home.”

The 18-year-old business major is an avid writer and chose a poem from his collection about unconditional love, which he felt best fit in with the message of love, peace and prosperity that Arie conveys through her music.

Idiga said the will definitely attend the Oct. 29 Espressions open mic night for another chance to read his poetry to a live audience.

Between acts and during intermission the audience was encouraged to take advantage of the refreshments and beverages that were provided.

After the brief intermission, 23-year-old Jessica Balfour, a member of the Union Program Council and a coordinator of Espressions, announced it was time for a surprise raffle drawing.

Audience member Faith Pulemagafa, an 18-year-old mechanical engineer major, was the winner of the raffle and received VIP tickets to the India.Arie concert and a chance to meet the performer in person.

Pulemagafa, an Arie fan, was pleasantly surprised to hear her name called as the raffle winner.

The remainder of the acts followed the raffle. Some of these included short poems read by students, an instrumental piece performed on guitar and other politically-charged spoken word performances.

Some students walked up to the stage with fear and nerves others with humor and confidence, but everyone exited the stage having delivered a unique message in a creative form.

Overall, the night showcased several talented literary and musical CSUN students.

“It was a really good turnout,” Balfour said.

Two additional Espressions open mic nights will take place throughout the course of the fall semester, Balfour said. The second event will be on Oct. 29 and the third Espressions is set for Nov. 12.