Who Knew OKWU Students Were So Talented?

Written By: Blythe Freshwater / Photos By: Ashlyen Fisher

Around 8pm on Friday, November 16, 130 OKWU students trickled into the chapel to view a spectacle: their peers performing in OKWU’s Talent Show. Energy surged through the crowd as the starting time grew closer. The competitors’ docket was full, and people were excited to see their friends show the world what they could do. Briant Bowerman and Matt Greenwood hosted the night as our hilarious MC’s, and the completely unbiased judges were Jack McGowen, Aaron “The Bunkanator” Bunker, and Reed “Batman” Garland. (If you don’t already know why we now call him Batman, go ask him…)

Briant Bowerman kicked off the night with a terrible joke about a lady who had a Botox procedure. No one raised an eyebrow, but a couple chuckles echoed in the chapel. The real fun started when gangster freshmen Summer Smith and Bekah Groppe rapped a parody of “God’s Plan” with creative reinvented lyrics. Their energy was contagious, and the crowd really got into the groove as they danced.

Jessica “Arkansas” Bradford seemed to float up onto the stage after the dynamic duo. Although she admitted afterwards that she was “super nervous,” she took the mic with confidence and belted a rousing cover of “You Say” by Lauren Daigle. Her fellow junior varsity basketball teammates showed their support by turning on their flashlights and waving them in what looked like a sea of dizzy fireflies. Soon the whole crowd followed suit, their lights only as bright as Arkansas’s smile.

Benjamin “BenBen” Bender, in purest boy-band fashion, wore a denim jacket in honor of his original song “Hashtag Roommate Goals,” which he wrote for his roommate Daniel (who unfortunately could not attend). BenBen was only the slightest bit salty, but he performed his song well, surprising the crowd with complicated riffs and minor chord progressions on his borrowed guitar. His song made all those who do not have roommates a little jealous of the two’s “skinny jeans and denim jackets loud and bold.” The song was a hit, especially with the ladies. A male crowd member shouted out, “Are you single?!” and, luckily for all you ladies, the answer is yes… however, BenBen was not available for comment on this issue.

Following BenBen’s dramatic finish, a trio of basketball players, Bryson Grasse, Armon Akbar, and their stoic assistant Jansen, started one of the most unusual routines of the night. After a false start with someone else’s song, they started the difficult task of juggling invisible tennis balls, basketballs, machetes, fireballs, and chainsaws. Their finesse and concentration levels were amazing, and each managed to juggle the invisible items, toss them back and forth to each other, and do spins and flips—all without dropping any item or hurting themselves. Armon almost dropped a fireball and a chainsaw, but he recovered with such grace that the audience hardly noticed the near-death experience.

After Briant and Matt poetically declared their love for each other, sophomore Dillon Eldridge took the stage and read a beautiful original poem titled “Wilted Rose.” There wasn’t a dry eye in the audience, although the jury is still out on whether it was because of the powerful poetry or because of Briant’s sad drum skills afterwards—but more on that in a moment!

“Wow–that’s so dope!” -Marshall Whitley

Freshman David Romanko took the stage with his violin and took the audience’s breath away with a masterful rendition of a variation of Corelli’s “La Follia.” One wouldn’t think of it looking at the tall Criminal Justice major, but he has been playing violin for 15 years and counting. When he entered the faster-paced third variation of the melody, Marshall Whitley, senior ministry major, just said, “Wow–that’s so dope!” Everyone was thoroughly impressed with David’s skills.

As the boy band “5th Pillar” set up their instruments, Briant and Matt tried to encourage volunteers to show off their dancing talents. Almost no one caved into their friends’ peer pressure, save Darius Musa, who awed the crowd with some serious breakdancing skills. (That split, though!) When 5th Pillar (comprised of Liam Watts on lead vocals and acoustic guitar, Noah Storkson on bass, Andrew Smith on drums, Jon-Calvin Chance on electric guitar, and Ben Bender on vocals and keys) was ready, the crowd fell silent. Jon-Calvin got everyone to their feet, and as soon as the beat dropped and the lyrics came up on the screen, the crowd started singing along to their parody, “Shut Up and Pray with Me.” This act was by far the most energetic, with Noah and Jon-Calvin battling it out with dance moves that never should die. We were all afraid Noah’s trapper hat would fall off when he dropped to his knees and played his heart out or when he jumped on top of his amp to say hi to drummer Andrew. We couldn’t see Jon-Calvin’s eyes through his aviator sunglasses and bandana, but it looked like they all were having a little too much fun.

As the judges deliberated, Briant and Matt called for volunteers to fill the time. Freshman Alison Theis jumped up and marched up to the stage and challenged Briant to a drum battle. He agreed and said, “Ladies first!” Alison whipped off her sweatshirt and dropped a beat much like Briant had done earlier. She stopped and said, “Now this is just too boring!” and brought it up a couple notches. Briant followed suit by tossing off his flannel and plopping down on the stool. He rattled off a creative beat, but the crowd was solidly on Alison’s side. She walked away from the battle victorious, and Briant was left to deal with the devastating consequences of being beaten by a freshman girl. You all might want to go cheer him up today.

The judges sent Batman to give the final verdict, but he was interrupted by Isaak Rowe and his troupe of men’s basketball back-up dancers doing a lip-synced version of “Snacks in My Bag.” It was a good rally for so short a time, and they all looked like they were having fun up there.

Finally, the judges gave their consensus for the winners of the 2018 OKWU Talent Show. Simulated drumrolls echoed in between each winner and the crowd yelled louder each time. In third place was the Invisible Jugglers for their creativity and finesse; in second place was the boy-band 5th Pillar for their energy and musical skills; and in first place was David Romanko the violinist. Everyone agreed that the verdict was exactly how it should have been, and all the winners went home with smiles on their faces. Jon-Calvin Chance, electric guitarist for 5th Pillar, said, “It was such a blast! I loved every minute of it. Also, Fifth Pillar will soon make an album and have some legit merch.” So be on the look-out for that.

Overall, the OKWU Talent show was a huge hit. If you missed your chance to show off your skills, come back next year!