A Night in the Spotlight


Minneapolis, MN, 11/22/2016, Students perform at the MCTC Talent Show, from left to right: Robel “Ol Brown Eyes” Tedros, Johhny AKA “Blessed”, Lamar Colquitt, Becky Moore, & Ben (Andrew Bickford, MCTC) Photo credit: Andrew Bickford

The Spotlight! Talent Show, November 26th, was about more than performance- it was about heart. Beginning with “Ol’ Brown Eyes” Robel, a dulcet tenor in mid-20th century stylings, who treated the audience to his renditions of Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Dean Martin and Jim Reaves, (introduced respectfully at the start of each tune). He met old-world showmanship with his own thrill, and he was well-met with applause.

As the night went on, we heard the passionate range of Johnny, AKA “Blessed” opening with Whitney Houston’s, “I Will Always Love You” before launching into Heatwave’s “Always and Forever” and a full repertoire of R&B hits. The MC’s asked him to introduce himself, but he wasn’t to be distracted, saying “Forget my story, let’s sing, let’s go.”

Then Becky Moore gave soulful melody to a few of the hymns of our times, “Sandcastles” by Beyonce Knowles and “Arms of an Angel” by Sarah McLaughlan, among others. She told the crowd a little of her own struggle beforehand. “I lost my legs at age 8 to meningitis,” she said, “November 12th is the anniversary of when I found out I had it.” Her performance lifted the spirits of the room, and she spoke briefly afterward about the transformative power of love. Her kindness and sincerity touched a few hearts that night, and as one articulate spectator put it, “Yo, you are a goddess.”

Next, Lamar Colquitt, one of MCTC’s student leaders, sign language-sang “Sanctuary” from the Kingdom Hearts video games, afterwards leading a lesson in the ASL alphabet. “I’ve been doing it since last year,” he said. “I’d do a song, and then teach them the alphabet, numbers…” Lamar says he wants to do more than perform, wants to educate. He made a point to say that participation wasn’t required, but hoped we’d each get something out of it. “I don’t make anybody do something they don’t want to do.” Not everyone remembers their signs the first time, but Lamar doesn’t mind. “Whether you remember or not, I’m willing to teach you.”

Afterwards came a standup routine from a student named Ben, whose commentary got laughs out of everyone; (even if they didn’t want it to be funny, it was). Leaving during intermission, I missed many anticipated performances- Rebel Tedros, Trademark, and Freedom Lion. But on my way out, the audience, (no one onstage) sang a rousing chorus of “Somebody to Lean On,” and it became clear to me then that this was about heart. And the students here have more heart than you can measure.