Students honor legendary ‘Showtime at the Apollo’ TV show for Black History Month

Photos and Story by Tina Higgins / Contributing Writer

The second annual Showtime at the Apollo took place at the MTSU Student Union Building on Monday, with much fanfare and excitement.

This talent show-styled event debuted a year ago in honor of the legendary television show, “Showtime at the Apollo.” The original show stands as the longest running amateur night show in television history, where acts such as Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Jimi Hendrix made their first broadcast performance.

MTSU students created the event with the history of the original Apollo night in mind. Elements such as the tree of life – a tree stump that performers rub for good luck – and cheers and boos to judge the quality of the performance were highlights of the night.

Singer, songwriter and student Ashley Brooks spoke about her excitement for the show before it started.

“I’m ready to see some good MTSU talent,” Brooks said. “… I just was looking for something fun to do tonight, and this seemed right.”

At 6 p.m., a crowd started to form outside of the Student Union Ballroom, and soon after that, attendees rushed in to find a seat. The ballroom was filled to capacity with students standing in the back to witness the show. Two student hosts orchestrated the event and explained how the evening was going to be conducted. If the audience approved of an act, they could cheer to keep them onstage, but if they did not like the performance, they could boo them off stage. Even though the events were judged by MTSU faculty, the audience has the final say of the winner, who would receive a prize of $200.

As the night progressed, some performances were booed off stage while others got a standing ovation. Nonetheless, the night was full of surprises.

Three hours after the doors opened, the judges agreed on the top five performances. A student performer adopted the role of Kiki Shepard, the original co-host of the television show. Like the original competition, she would raise a hand over a performers head to see who the crowd liked most.

Once the final results were in, prizes were awarded. Trey Garland won third place in his singing performance, Nataya Wake won second place in her poetry performance and Jessica Taylor was the grand winner with her singing and guitar playing performance.

The event was one of the final events lined up for Black History Month, which ends on Feb. 28.

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