Omega Psi Phi fraternity and the Dark Tower Project teamed up in a talent show and open mic performance where beat poets and vocalists showcased their talent as a part of Omega Week.
College junior Noel McKenzie, one of two Omega members, said that his fraternity decided to combine efforts with the arts group between Emory, Morehouse College, Spelman College and Clark Atlanta University just a week before the performance.
“We wanted to showcase some undergraduate talent as well as some local talent,” McKenzie said. “The idea was to have a show for people to come perform in.”
Last-minute cancellations from performers, including the main act featuring Def Jam artist Sterling Simms, set the show back by an hour, McKenzie said.
“Def Jam recording artist Sterling Simms couldn’t make it because he was sick,” he said. “We couldn’t keep informing people to come the way we wanted to.”
Although McKenzie said the show was a much more intimate gathering than anybody had expected, Omega and the Dark Tower Project were still able to show off their talents to a handful of about 30 people.
Most of the performers, such as College sophomore Garrett Turner, presented spoken pieces that emulated their personal beliefs.
“Here’s what I think. I think ‘I think’ is the weakest phrase in the English language,” Turner said. “There is an entire cosmos of difference between, ‘I think America needs Obama’ and ‘America needs Obama.’”
In his piece, Turner urged students to assert their views because “ignorance of such power is nothing short of epic failure.”
He asked the audience not to be afraid of offending others.
“Forget what you think, forget what I think, forget what we think: what is?” Turner asked.
The power of words was a common theme from poet to poet. While Turner emphasized that it was important to express ideas with abandon, one poet stated: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but the names you call me can also hurt,” while another said, “Words are the only barrier between you and me; I want to say them but they just escape me.”
Another poet spoke of the writing process and the pain and reward that come with it. He said that true independence could only be independently gained and “this is the reason why I bow my head when I write.”
McKenzie, who had not expected to perform, also took the stage to close the show with a Gospel song to make up for the performers who dropped out.
Earlier in the week, Omega held a forum on interracial dating. McKenzie said that the discussion turned out well and that he would like to do something similar again. He said, however, that an event like the talent show and open mic would be approached differently in the future.
“We’d definitely like to do more events with the Dark Tower Project,” McKenzie said. “We’ll do a different project in a different environment; we know what to expect now.”
— Contact Alice Chen.