The University Program Board (UPB) and NAACP at SRU presented music, poetry, and more in the University Union Multi-Purpose Room (MPR) Wednesday evening at the Soul Café.
SRU students showcased their talents during this event while also involving the audience in their performances with singing along, clapping in rhythm, or snapping to poetry. Encouraging words and laughter were also shared from friends, or just spectators who could relate to the performers’ acts.
Co-emcee of the evening, director of the Soul Café, and executive board member of the NAACP chapter at SRU, senior communications major Terrell Foster, 22 said the Soul Café was a great experience for everyone.
“I think the audience and the performers had a lot of fun,” Foster said. “It’s an open mic night type of thing. In past years we’ve had mostly rap and dance, but now there’s a lot more poetry that students want to showcase.”
Foster said this was his fourth experience leading the Soul Café event and each year students ask for more.
“I would have people continually asking me if we were going to have another Soul Café show,” Foster said. “So we kept deciding to bring it back.”
Foster also encouraged those in attendance to “tweet” about the performances held that evening by “hash tagging” “soulcafé.” He hoped this would get the word out to others while also advertising future involvement with the event.
“I would advertise the event for weeks and no one would sign up until the day of the performance,” Foster said hoping the posts on Twitter would help to bring out a crowd as well. However, he said the performances that evening still showed passion and talent in those who stepped on stage to share what they had prepared.
Foster said he was very pleased with the talent and provided words of encouragement to those hoping to one day grace the Soul Café stage.
“If you want to get up and perform, just do it,” Foster said. “People are going to walk away from the performance saying ‘Hey remember that girl?’ That might not be the case if you’re just sitting in the audience though. Share your talent and what you have!”
Foster said he hopes SRU students will continue to carry on the Soul Café tradition after he graduates.
“And I hope they do it even better than me,” Foster said. “I hope they continue the show in years to come and I hope it gets better every year!”
Foster said that student involvement is everything when it comes to the Soul Café. He spoke for past and present performers.
“Sometimes we would have a guest artist perform,” Foster said. “And that was nice, but a lot of students were complaining that they sang too many songs and they didn’t have much time to perform their own acts. So this Soul Café was all about the students showcasing their talents and we had a lot of that.”
One of the performers Wednesday evening, junior English literature major and women’s studies minor, Jacqueline Garland, 21, said she really enjoyed performing on stage at the event and alongside the other performers highlighted that evening.
“I loved how very diverse the show was,” Garland said. “I still wish it was more diverse, but I really appreciated the feeling of community with all the performers and with the audience. And I really enjoyed all the talent that was presented.”
Garland said she was very excited to be performing in the show, not once, but twice. Her first performance was a poem she read by Jill Scott, titled “Womanifesto.”
“I felt like this poem was my inner me,” Garland said. “So I wanted to appear confident and very strong in my delivery. The poem is about being more than just your body and I really wanted to portray that.”
Garland’s second performance, and the final performance of the evening was her rendition of “Beautiful Surprise” originally sung by India Arie.
“This song is was very sentimental,” Garland said. “So I wanted to show my softer side with this performance.”
Garland said she enjoyed her time spent with the Soul Café and she hopes to continue getting more involved.
Co-emcee and senior public relations major Jasmine Cleveland, 22, said she had a great time helping Foster with the Soul Café and watching all the performers showcase their talents.
“Everybody did something really different,” Cleveland said. “It was really cool watching everyone! The show included a lot of talent you wouldn’t normally expect.”
Cleveland said she was glad she helped to emcee the event and believed it would be a great experience for her in her public relations studies.
“The show was so awesome and we had a lot of involvement and unique performances,” Cleveland said. “I hope students continue to come out and show us what they have to offer.”