“Showtime at the Apollo” returns to MTSU


Photo: MPAC dance group preforming

Story by Stephanie Hall | Contributing Writer

Photos by Darwin Alberto | Photographer

“Showtime at the Apollo” has returned to Middle Tennessee State University for Black History Month.

The show is meant to be a display of talent and singing, accompanied by audience participation. It was hosted on Feb. 24 at the Tucker Theatre.

Like the original “Showtime at the Apollo,” the audience has the power to either let the performers complete their performance or have the sweeper take them off the stage. They also included the Tree of Hope that the performers rub for good luck before their performers.  

The hosts were Joshua C. Gray, a senior at MTSU and Keenan Daniels, The MillionDollaMan, accompanied by DJ Kidd Green. 

One of the hosts in particular, Keenan Daniels, is a full-time entertainer in Chattanooga. This was his first-time hosting, and he was excited to have the opportunity to host and watch all the performances.  

“I’m an arts kid. I went to a performing arts school, Center for Creative Arts (in) Chattanooga Tennessee. Musical theater was my major from sixth grade through 12th grade. I know a little bit about performance, so I did see some acts that probably needed to just go back and polish their craft and keep working and staying consistent,” Daniels said.  

The MC’s hyped the crowd up and explained the rules of the show. They also showed a video describing a brief history of “Showtime at the Apollo.” 

The show opened with J. Logan who rapped his original song “Nice Guy.” He did amazing, having the audience cheering for him throughout the show. He was a good opener and set a high bar for the rest of the performances. Which was then followed by an act that was immediately booed off the stage. 

The next few acts were cheered for. One act in particular, Meghan, sang “Easy” by Adele and had a shoe thrown on stage when she was done. This is often considered a compliment, at least according to Jennifer Hudson who views it as “equivalent to a standing ovation.” 

We also saw a return of Makayla Collins and Shawn Gardener, who won Rep Your Roots. As usual, they gave a spectacular performance, this time singing “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley.  

During the first intermission, crowd man Will held a Black History Month themed trivia game. All the participants got their questions right and won prizes. Then all the MC’s led the audience in signing and rapping along to different songs, while some sororities and fraternities danced in the aisles.  

The performances returned, with Larry Lauderdale on the violin. He had some technical difficulties. Thankfully, one of the sound crew came out and held a mic while he played. The audience also helped him out by singing along.  

Between acts, the hosts would come out and hype up the audience, with the help of DJ Kidd Green.  

One of the acts, Kindred Locke, was a multitalented act. He played the saxophone, performing a cover of “If I Ever Fall in Love” by Shai and then did an original rap song called “All In.” 

He had the audience cheering for him during the saxophone, with them even beginning to sing along. He started to get a couple of boos during the rap, but he was able to get them to start cheering again at the end. However, he was excited for all the performances.  

“I’m most excited for the other contestants. I love seeing the acts in this rehearsal and I’m excited to see the full performances,” Locke said.  

Two singers, Kadiatu and Beyonce, both gave beautiful singing performances and danced with MPAC. Both girls got a lot of cheers for their singing and dancing. They had both put in a lot of work for both of their performances.  

“Lots of, lots of practices outside rehearsals. And for me personally, I’ve also been doing some practices (in) my free time,” Kadiatu Gassama said.  

In the end, the audience cheered for their top 5 favorite acts. Then the three judges took some time to pick the top three while the performers who were not booed danced with the audience.  

In third place was Rachel, a hula-hoop contortionist. She had the audience hooked and on edge during her performance. Second place went to MPAC, a dance group. They were the last act of the show and definitely gave the audience an unforgettable performance.  

When it came to first place, it was a tie between Kadiatu and Beyonce. The winner was decided by audience cheering. It was close, but Beyonce took home 1st place.  

First place trophy being awarded. The audience had to decide between Beyonce (left) or Kadiatu (right).
Joshua Gray and Beyonce after her first place victory

“I’ve been working on this since freshman year. This is my third year until finally, you know, do what I’ve been trying to do. It was great. So, I left with a bang,” Beyonce said.  

It was fun and a great night that saw a lot of amazing performances and some that will hopefully be better next year.  

To contact Lifestyles Editor Ethan Pickering, email lifestyles@mtsusidelines.com.

For more news, visit www.mtsusidelines.com, or follow us on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines or on Twitter at @Sidelines_News 

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