With the multitude of fans that packed Carnesecca Arena on Friday night, this year’s Black Music Fest definitely did not disappoint. The lineup featured opening acts Collie Buddz, Voicemail, the CSA dancers, student rap performances, and Juelz Santana.Ne-Yo closed the show as the headlining act.
The concert started off rocking as first act Collie Buddz charned the crowed with his hit single, “Come Around.” Freshman Toni Burnett acclaimed it as, “one hot performance”.In a pre-performance interview, Buddz stated that he enjoys coming to St. John’s and other universities because, “every university has it’s own vibe… [and they’re] nice vibes.”
His positive attitude was revealed through his performance.
Next up was Voicemail, one of the hottest male vocal groups in Jamaica. Their performance was nothing less than spectacular. From the choreographed dance moves like the “Willie Bounce” and “Wacky Dip,” to encouraging audience participation by taking pictures as they posed, viewers were left anticipating their next move. Theirmusic allowed the crowd to “follow the leader” if they didn’t already know thedance moves.
The highlight of the performance was when the group asked for a seriousmoment: one minute of silence for all who lost their lives at the Virginia Techshooting. The observance was followed with a group request that everyone telltheir neighbor that “God loves you”-a touching moment for all in attendance.Backstage group member Kevin said he prefers performing along the college circuit, commenting, “Our music caters to young people, so it’s only right.”
Fellow member Craig noted, “This is my first time at St. John’s and I’m loving it!”
During an intermission before the next performance, the CSA dance troop, headed by Sandy Elysee, performed to several hip-hop and reggae songs. The crowd cheered as dancers showcased their talents.
Next up was Juelz Santana. Among the many songs he performed was “Clockwork.” As with most rap performances, the stage was filled with his entourage- without them, Juelz’s vibe just wouldn’t have been the same. During his performance, he “shoutedout,” or commended all students that are going to school and getting an education.Because Juelz is from the city, Harlem to be exact, he said he feels at home at St. John’s. As he later noted, “It’s family.” He couldn’t have said it better.
Ne-Yo’s sensual performance had many female students screaming breathlessly. Ne-Yo fan and freshman Sana Ghori shouted, “I’m exhilarated- I’m speechless!”
Like Ghori, many other front-row spectators were singing along with Ne- Yo. In a post-performance interview, Ne-Yo stated, “The only thing I hated was that the stage was so far, because I like to touch my fans”-a situation which, if possible, would’ve made even more students scream at the top of their lungs.
Unfortunately, during Ne-Yo’s intermission, students began leaving assuming the concert was over. Fortunately, an announcer was able to retrieve the audience before they missed out on the closing acts. A percentage of the proceeds gained from ticket sales are expected to go to Darfur, a region in the country of Sudan where thousands of civilians are being mercilessly killed.
Jermaine Cole, President of Haraya, encourages students to find balance between enjoying the college life and being aware of worldwide issues. He believes students can still come together to enjoy music for a good cause. He also noted the benefit of holding such a large-scale concert; this empowering message and awareness about the Darfur conflict can potentially reach thousands at one time.
And in regards to those that were against the title “Black Music Fest” Cole emphasizes that this isn’t a music fest that’s black, but rather a fest that plays “black” music. According to Cole, there is a difference.
Collie Buddz said it best: “Africa has had a lot of issues, so to support any good cause there, feels real good.”
It is because of positive and beneficial organizations like Haraya that students can come together to enjoy good music for a good cause. The enthusiastic dancing and priceless energy produced by the musical talents at Haraya’s Black Music Fest truly made the event a success.