Variety show offers entertainment, social commentary

	GVL / Anya Zentmeyer

Anya Zentmeyer

GVL / Anya Zentmeyer

Nate Smith

As Te’Asia Martin began the second chorus of Mary J. Blidge’s “I’m going down,” you could see a smile creep onto her face. People sitting in the back were singing along, not missing a word. The flash from digital cameras and smartphones filled Grand Valley State Univeristy’s Louis Armstrong Theatre in Allendale, and the crowd had taken on a life of it’s own.

They were all there for an event hosted by the GVSU chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, that threw its second annual Def Jam GVSU Edition variety show. The event offered more than just entertainment to the packed auditorium.

“We wanted to not only give people a format to express themselves,” said Kayla Jones, the NAACP GVSU chapter president. “We also wanted to bring awareness to issues and causes that we feel are important.”

In addition to taking donations for the American Heart Association throughout the event, issues ranging anywhere from acceptance to responsibility were addressed by speakers and performers. Before performing their song “Mista Mista,” performers Phillip and Emmanuel Hudson explained the meaning behind the song.

“This song is about deadbeat dads,” Emmanuel said. “You know, the ratchet dudes who don’t take care of business.”

Even while tackling hard social issues, they still managed to keep the atmosphere light and open for dialogue. The hosts of the show, LaKeith Chavers and Shanna Jones, not only kept the audience laughing with their raucous and sometimes raunchy banter, but also encouraged the crowd to participate by sharing messages on Twitter that they could respond to onstage.

The jovial atmosphere and sheer amount of talent variety were the highlight of the night. Everything from singing to dancing graced the stage during the variety show. Jones saw a vast improvement between this year and last year’s event.

“We have more talent, a bigger venue and bigger acts,” Jones said. “We’ve come a long way.”

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