Def Jam or Elektra doesn’t back rap artists Bottom Side Up and gospel singer Sharita Calloway, but when the Homecoming parade is over and the out-of-towners return home, you may still see them milling about campus.
The performers are part of the homegrown talent harvested directly from the red-clay hills of FAMU and are part of this year’s Homecoming Talent and Comedy Showcase.
Travis Williams, a 20-year-old junior business administration student from Ft. Lauderdale, served as this year’s committee chairman for the event. His first challenge was to raise funds to keep the homecoming tradition alive.
“A few weeks ago, we had a zero-dollar budget,” he said. After soliciting several campus entities, he was able to secure some serious funding.
“University Relations contributed $5,000, and the student Senate gave us $6,000,” Williams said.
His next effort was to build a committee of students to organize the event. “I would love for students who usually aren’t involved in activities to get involved,” Williams said. “I try to let people know that they have already paid for these types of events. Your A&S fees fund them.” Williams also said, “If you don’t get involved, it’s kind of like letting your tax dollars go to waste.”
Talent coordinator Leeza White determined which acts were really money worthy- and wouldn’t be booed off the stage.
“In auditions, I was looking for something that I think the rest of the student body would enjoy, (like) stage presence, creativity and uniqueness,” said the 18-year-old sophomore pharmacy student from Winter Haven, Florida.
“We’re trying to make this show as Hollywood as possible,” Williams said.
The committee placed ads in The Famuan in hopes of getting “a diverse mix, not just singers and dancers,” White said. “We wanted a variety of acts.”
Adding to the mix is 18-year-old freshman Calloway. Her choice to perform a piece by gospel powerhouse Yolanda Adams wasn’t motivated by the prospect of winning a monetary prize.
“I want to try and reach people, to let them know that God can help you,” said the business administration student from Bartow. “I’m basically singing to touch people’s hearts.”
FYI: The showcase will be held in Gaither Gymnasium on Thursday, October 23 at 9 p.m. Admission is free.