Spotlight Talent Show brings out the positive in Salisbury

Published 12:05 am Sunday, November 19, 2017

Dee Neely’s first annual Spotlight Talent Show was full of just that: lots of talent.

Read: Lots. With 22 competitors and special performances by four others, the 6 p.m show in Livingstone College’s Varick Auditorium lasted until just after 10 p.m.

The evening’s entertainment was as varied as it was impressive. Contestant performances included everything from original raps to dance solos and spoken word poetry.

Soulful adult performers of the night included Grace Renet, singing “At Last;” Jordan St. Denny, singing Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing;” Alisha Vann, singing “What is Love;” and Lily Bennett, singing “Rise Up.”

Faith seemed to be another common theme. Alan Murrah, Emily Avalos, Lucinda Jones, Judy Shives and J Wood each sang powerful, contemporary Christian or gospel songs that had attendees shouting and lifting their hands in praise.

The remaining adult contestants were an eclectic mix. Robyn Rivers performed a spoken word poem dedicated to her late father, Charlie Franco played “Fade to Black” on guitar, Joey Monfort danced and Jim Sharkey sang while playing the guitar and harmonica. PMB, Destiny Stone, R.A.M., King Keyz and Nicole Lyn each sang original pieces.

“I have a big heart,” Neely said in regard to this mammoth set list. She continued with a laugh, “It was hard to tell anybody no.”

In the end, Sharkey took third place, Lyn second and Stone first.

Stone sang an original piece, composed in tribute to Colin Kaepernick. Her performance had many audience members on their feet.

“Dear America,” she sang, seated behind a piano. “What’s a girl to do when she ain’t feeling no love from you?”

Youth performers were few, but just as talented. Young Kake Boss performed an original rap, followed by Mia Mason’s a capella song, Kaniya Matthew’s lyrical dance and Ja’ire Springer’s Michael Jackson tribute.

Mason took fourth, Spring third, “Kake Boss” second, and Matthews first.

Special performances included an opening performance by Salisbury Flossy Posse; a dance battle between You’Nique Starz and Triple Threat Dance & Charm; and a solo by Big Mike from Day 26.

The battle brought perhaps the night’s biggest laughs. The two troops, comprised of elementary dancers, took the competition fiercely. Glares and victorious prances abounded.

Radio personality Roxie, from 102 Jamz, tried to encourage sportsmanship, but the rivalry between the groups ran too deep. You’Nique Starz claimed top spot during the battle.

“I was not ready for that,” she said with a laugh after the two team captains separated with hair flips and pointedly confident walks. “I was not ready for the sashay.”

The atmosphere of the attendees was overwhelmingly supportive. All performers were given enthusiastic applause, and many caused proclamations or shouts of praise mid-performance.

This positiveness and sense of community coincides with Neely’s motivation for creating the show. As it came to a close, she explained.

“I like planning things and putting things together,” she said. “I thought this would be a good way to bring the community together, that it would be a fun and positive event to have to show that Salisbury is not all bad. We have talent too.”