November 01, 2011

The Nation’s Third Oldest College Newspaper

Volume 82, Issue 4

NU's Open Mic Night: 17 acts, 300 students, and $1,000 in prize money

by Tyler Russell


Niagara University's 19th annual Open Mic Night was greeted with an raucous audience of students who came for a single purpose: to see their fellow classmates perform. The artists performed in front of more than 300 students, all of whom cheered and offered their support.

Acts ranged from poetry to a-capella to hip-hop, and included everything in between. The event introduced guitarists to piano players, comedians to dancers, and freshmen to seniors. Songs ranged from R&B to classical and jazz to contemporary. All in all, it appears the night was a huge success.

Students just love to compete and entertain, says Vince Schiano, a Niagara University student and a member of one of the 17 acts performing at the event. Schiano performed The Temptations classic My Girl and chose his friend and fellow student, Jessica Bialkovski, to join him on stage.

This was my fifth time performing, and it's definitely the largest audience we've ever seen, Schiano said.

The recent open mic event fielded the largest crowd in quite some time for the series.

With everything on campus, this has to be the most fun and the most organized event, Schiano said. When looking at the crowd's reaction after each performance, it would seem that you could easily agree with Vince's statement.

I've been to four of these, and that is the most people and loudest I have ever heard it, said Niagara University student Jim LeAir.

There is little doubt that the audience was rocking. Whether it was a self-written poem, a musical cover of a classic, or an original set of jokes, the audience reacted positively to each and every act. With such a variety in talent and performers, it is hard to imagine anyone not finding an act or artist to spark their interest.

In the end, however, and despite valiant efforts from all of the competitors, only one group could reign supreme.

This semester's Open Mic Night winner consisted of two females, who together formed a formidable hip-hop dance crew. Skyler Cross and Susannah Kushner, both juniors at Niagara University, took home first place and the grand prize of $500.

Cross and Kushner have been dancing for more than 10 years, and quite simply, Just wanted to dance, Cross said. We like to perform, and when we found out that open mic was available, we decided to put something together.

Open Mic Night was only the first one of the school year, with the other to be held sometime in March. Such a large turnout has to encourage additional acts and an even larger student-driven audience. It's hard to imagine those who have attended the event not coming back for more.

I will be back, for sure. I've been to almost everyone of these, LeAir said.

The hope is to get anyone and everyone out to compete or cheer on fellow students as they compete in a friendly competition where everyone ultimately ends up a winner.

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