Singers, dancers and other performance artists showed off their talents at the 2nd Annual Talent Show presented by the Sean Bell Foundation on April 21. Children and adults alike took the stage at PS 48 in Jamaica for over two hours and performed in front of an audience of over 50 people.
Singers covered hit songs, dancers executed a variety of moves from African to hip-hop and other performances ranged from poetry to zumba.
Valerie Bell, mother of the late Sean Bell, infamously killed by police though unarmed, helped organize the talent show and wanted to give an opportunity to let children in the community to show off their skills.
“It’s especially important to a child to show what gifts they have,” she said, “to show the gifts God has given them.”
One of the children who performed was Cheyenne Stoves, 9, from St. Albans. She was shy to be performing in front of a large number of people, but was able to muster up the courage to go on stage and rap in front of the supportive audience. She performed a song from a viral video on YouTube known as the Hummus Rap. She was able to her stage fright with “courage combined with my willpower.”
“It was my second talent show,” Stoves said. “I felt happy that I got it over with.”
One adult performer, Casel Lee, who goes by the stage name The Verbal Artisan, performed spoken-word poetry that was critical of television, radio and other forms of mass media. She encouraged young people to turn off their electronic devices and pick up a book.
“Hopefully they have something to reflect on and think about,” she said after her performance.
Lee felt it is her duty as an artist to deliver a positive message to the youth, even if they may not want to hear it.
“All artists have a responsibility to the community, to children,” the Artisan said. “I take it as a personal responsibility.”
Desmond Nicholson Jr., 22, of Jamaica, sang the Stevie Wonder song “Love’s in Need of Love.” A trained singer and dancer, he hopes to work with children at the community center and teach them dances ranging from hip-hop to ballet. He was happy with the way he performed and praised the idea of having a talent show.
“It felt awesome,” Nicholson said. “I love stuff like this.”
One guest who did not perform, but instead provided inspirational advice, was Samson Styles, a reporter for BET, Black Entertainment Television. An award-winning reporter for the network, Styles said that he was able to turn his life as a youth growing up on the streets into the career he has now.
Styles had words of wisdom for parents in the audience. He said his mother was not supportive of his goals growing up, and he didn’t want the parents present to do the same.
“Don’t kill your kid’s dreams,” he said. “I don’t care what it is. As long as it’s positive, get behind them.”