Thursday, November 8, 2007

Jelani featured in NU News

"Jelani Day, a Middler Music Industry Major, served as the master of ceremonies during the open mic evening. He also performed his own raps and helped organize the event..."

Words By Matt Collette.

Spoken word, jazz, funk and poetry were showcased at "Generation Next" Tuesday night.

More than 50 people gathered in the Cabral Center of the John D. O'Bryant African American Institute for the event. Many students said they were there to take a break from studying for midterms.

Stanley Porter, the event coordinator for the African-American Institute, said he didn't anticipate it being midterms week when he was planning the event and was glad students took the time to share their talents and socialize.

"There's definitely a lot of focus on academic achievement and success [here at Northeastern] and that is important," he said. "But we need to focus on our humanity, our social side. We need to see each other in a social context, not just when we're working on papers and projects."

The event was titled "Generation Next," Porter said, because today's college students are the future.

"The whole idea is this is the next generation, when these people graduate they're going to be the voice of the nation," he said.

Students performed mostly original material, much of it expressing what it meant to them to be African-American in a society they feel keeps them down.

Ashley Salomon, a senior biochemistry major, gave several spoken word performances that focused on her upbringing in poverty and how it affects her. Her first piece, "On the Other Side of Ruggles," discussed the divide between two vastly different communities that the Orange Line creates. She discussed how the two cultures are blind to one another and physical and sociological divides separate them.

"This was just my second time performing spoken word," Salomon said.

She also said some friends encouraged her to perform at "Generation Next."

Jelani Day, a middler music industry major, served as the master of ceremonies during the open mic evening. He also performed his own raps and helped organize the event. He said the event gave students a chance to show off their talents.

"Not everyone gets booked at afterHOURS," he said.

The opportunity for students to express themselves was the purpose of the evening, Porter said.

"The more people can express themselves, the more they can be themselves," he said.

Joanne Memnon, a senior music industry major, took the stage and sang "I'm Goin' Down" and "Real Love" by Mary J. Blige. She was accompanied by sophomore mechanical engineering and music major Tony Hyppolyte's band T & the Threeve during both songs, and by Day during the second song.

"I loved it because Tony told me he had a couple of people in the band and we never even got to rehearse," Memnon said.

The music came naturally though, and Day accompanied her on "Real Love," providing 16 bars of improvised rhymes.

Local rapper Sam Staxx, who Porter met years ago when they both performed on Blue Hill Avenue, performed two tracks from his two albums.

"All the acts impressed me," he said. "It takes a lot to get up there and perform."

Several performers called upon the audience to join in, and many danced and sang along from their seats and in the aisles.

The event was important, Memnon said, because it brought collaboration among different students, cultures and races.

"Music can do this, it can always do this," Memnon said.

Middler American Sign Language and psychology major Randi James appreciated the event because it provided a variety of music she doesn't get to hear at other campus venues.

"AfterHOURS has a lot of rock," James said. "It's great to have some variety."

After the program ended, some performers stuck around for a jam session, which Porter called "hip hop in its pure form." And even after that jam session ended, Day and other students stood outside the African-American Institute, creating and sharing their own rhymes.

Porter said the African-American Institute will host another open mic event in the spring, and he hopes to fill the Cabral Center to capacity.

The original NU News post.

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