By Katelyn Fike
CSUN’s talent shined Thursday night at the 8th annual Student Showcase, where large crowds and vivacious celebrity guests rallied in support of the performers whose wide ranging acts reflected the spirit and diversity of CSUN’s campus community.
The Bollywood-themed show, hosted by the Union Program Council (UPC), boasted a broad array of acts from beat boxers and opera singers to dance teams and rap groups.
The show consisted of a celebrity host and three star judges.
Host James Davis, comedian and writer for Black Entertainment Television, kept the show going between acts with his contagious energy and comedic timing, receiving big laughs throughout the night.
Former Nickelodeon star Kel Mitchell, star of G4’s “Attack of the Show,” acted as a judge whose appearance garnered excitement from fans who grew up with him on their TV screens.
The other two judges, Landon Brown and Lil’ Al B. Sure, appeared on MTV’s “Rock the Cradle,” and are now working towards solo music careers.
The event’s highest honor of Best in Show went to dance group Black Reign, whose highly original circus freak routine was complete with a caged man and bearded lady.
Jaseena Ali, member of Black Reign, “felt great” about the group’s victory.
“We’ve been working our butts off,” said Ali, who added that support from her friends and family is what made her happiest that night.
The award for Best Band went to TJ Wilkins, who looked sharp in suits and ties for their cover performance of Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish.”
Cameron Garrett won best solo act by beat boxing songs by artists like Justin Timberlake and Snoop Dogg.
“I was kind of nervous at first,” said Garrett. “But I saw that the crowd was feelin’ it, and it was great.”
Marie Pyle’s opera skills secured her the award for Best Vocal Performance, her act standing out as the only classical performance that evening.
The CSUN Hip Hop Team won best dance group for their Wizard of Oz themed choreography, which included characters such as Dorothy, the wicked witch and a not-so-cowardly lioness.
“The award was well deserved,” said team member Herschel Hermosa. “We worked really hard, and proved once again that we’re the team to try to beat.”
The Best Vocal Ensemble went to singer Monica Velasco and her accompanying guitarist Jon Pena, who performed an old school R&B medley while the crowd sang along.
“You only got one shot, just go all out,” said Mitchell. “Everybody brought it, they really did.”
Dayna Charlot, member of CSUN’s Hip Hop team, recalled feeling as if she “couldn’t breathe” during her routine.
“It’s like another side of you takes over,” Charlot said, “You don’t hear anything else anymore; it’s just you and the music.”
UPC program coordinator Shari Lucas was thrilled with the show’s outcome, saying the students loved it, and calling it the “best showcase ever.”
“We got a huge turnout,” said Lucas, “There were 800 people in the audience.”
Rich Preescott of the rap group Top Notch said it was “real cool” for students to have the chance to showcase their talent.
“[The show] was very diverse, and I had fun,” said Preescott.