Monday, September 25, 2023

Photos: Rep Your Roots talent show showcases diversity, talent at MTSU


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Story and photos by Sergio Pacheco / Contributing Writer

The Rep Your Roots talent show was held Friday night in MTSU’s Student Union Building from 6 to 8 p.m. The talent show called all students who had talents and wanted to show them off. There were 22 participants in the talent show, and all of them managed to surprise the crowd. There was a variety of singing, rapping, dancing and creative writing. The judging criteria was based on overall performance, audience response, stage appearance, originality and personality. The penalty for exceeding the five-minute timed performance was a 10-point deduction.

Asia Smith, a sophomore at MTSU, said she felt amazing being the first-place winner of the talent show. She performed a custom instrumental cover of both “Golden,” a song by Jill Scott, and “Living My Best Life,” a song by Lil Duval.

“The mix that I used, I created myself from Lil Duval’s ‘Living My Best Life’ and Jill Scott’s ‘Golden,’ Smith said. “I mixed those together because they both kind of sound the same.”

Smith used Ableton Live, which is a music production software, to combine both songs and create a custom version of her own.

Smith thanked her family and friends for giving her support.

“I feel like if I didn’t have vibe and mindset from my friends, just that energy, I probably wouldn’t have done as well as I did,” Smith said.

Smith also said that the rest of the acts did a great job, which caused the judges to have a hard time deciding who the winner was going to be. Smith said there was a higher purpose to her successful performance. She said she was very sick the week prior to the event but did everything she could in order to be a part of the talent show. She even had a hard time finding the dj equipment she needed but luckily, a friend was able to find what she needed for her performance.

“I thank God for it,” Smith said. “Without him, none of this would be possible.”

Smith said she wasn’t planning on winning and had never performed in the event before. The reason for her participating was in order to reach out to others and bring positivity.

“It all goes to a higher power,” Smith said. “God gave me this gift, so I might as well use it the way he wants me to.”

In second place was Natalie Bullion, a freshman at MTSU. Bullion’s act was a Native-American dance demonstration called the “Fancy Shawl Dance.” Fancy Shawl is a style of powwow dance. Chickasaw people did not traditionally dance powwow style, as these styles came from northern tribes. However, many do now, as powwows have become a way for indigenous people to celebrate together. Bullion started dancing after having a dream about doing so and at the convincing of her elders, who were proud to see her step in the circle.

“I came to show my culture and to represent missing and murdered indigenous women in the United States,” Bullion said.

The third-place winners were students of MTSU’s Indian Student Association, who performed a Bollywood dance. Priya Patel, a junior at MTSU and member of the Indian Student Association, said they came to represent the Indian culture.

“We’ve grown up with the culture, and we’re really passionate about dancing,” Patel said. “One of the main things about our culture is Bollywood dancing. In a movie, you’ll see five Bollywood dancers in like a two-hour span, so we really wanted to showcase that today in front of MTSU.”

Patel also said that they practiced dancing for about three hours, two times every week for about three weeks.

“It would have been nice to win, but honestly it was just for fun,” Patel said. “It was just something that we did as a group to get together and showcase our diversity at MTSU.”

The MTSU manager of Intercultural and Diversity Affairs, Daniel Green, was very pleased with the performance of all the contestants.

“Everybody came and (represented) their roots,” Green said. “We had a lot of professional contestants that came and showcased their talent through opera, country, rock, and hip-hop. We had tons of different cultural demonstrations. We had the students from India who did a wonderful job with their cultural dance that they performed. We also had a student from the Native-American culture who did an awesome job with her performance.”

Green also said there was an overall sense of diversity and many manifestations.

“I think everyone represented their culture, heritage, country and organization well,” Green said.

Green said he had some high standards for the contestants but was happy with their performances.

“I just wanted them to be themselves – to just get out there and showcase what they have always been talented enough to do,” Green said.

To contact Lifestyles Editor Sydney Wagner, email

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