Bollywood, bagpipes and beautiful voices were just a few of the student performances at this year’s USF’s Got Talent, organized by the Campus Activities Board (CAB). With hundreds of dollars’ worth of prizes at stake, USF students fought for the title of USF’s Got Talent Champion.
Freshman Charles Choi took his place on stage as this year’s master of ceremonies. With an ever-present smile and a hilarious stage presence, Choi presented the performers with various raffle prizes throughout the night. The gorgeous Presentation Theater offered a classic and tasteful backdrop for the variety show, with a bright spotlight center stage. The talents were being judged by three faculty members: Dean of Students Shannon Gary, Assistant Vice President Provost for Student Engagement Lester Deanes and Assistant Professor Byron Au Yong.
The winner of USF’s Got Talent was sophomore Michelle Hong, who sang an original song titled “Sunsets.” Hong said the song was about “every new beginning in a relationship.” With only a ukulele and her vocals, she captured the audience’s full attention with her sweet and gentle voice and beautiful acoustic notes. The lyrics “Am I on a good high or a bad trip?” truly captured what Hong had hoped for: the nervous steps towards breaking barriers in love, with its euphoria and stress. It was no surprise she took home first place, as multiple shouts of “Michelle” fluttered around the room when Choi got ready to read off the winner.
In second place came the band Side Project, which featured four USF students: Gabe Penaroyo, Allen Moreno, Daniel Hospitalia and Tallon Avery. The band has been together since high school and performed two songs, an original titled “Valedictorian” and a popular Mac Demarco song called “Freaking Out The Neighborhood.” The band brought an alt-rock concert to the Presentation Theater. Besides a slight problem with the amps, they rocked the stage and had no problem pumping up the crowd as the lead singer danced around and sang ever so passionately.
Winning third place, the most interesting and entertaining performance of the night was by sophomore Gretel Baur. She bore bagpipes under her shoulder, and the audience stared in eager anticipation. Frankly, you don’t see bagpipes everyday. Baur took a minute to answer the question lingering in most people’s minds: Why the bagpipes? “There’s actually a pretty big bagpipe scene in Portland,” she said before beginning her performance. After a chuckle from the audience, Baur was off.
The first song she performed was named after her sister, who laughed at Baur when she heard that she was going to perform the bagpipes in front of people. She played the most popular bagpipe song, “Scotland the Brave,” for her second and final song, as she exited the stage continuing to play. Her friends in the audience jumped and screamed in support throughout the performance.
CAB puts on lively and entertaining events throughout the year, such as Donaroo and Fright Night. Aside from the prizes for the talent show winners, CAB raffled off prizes, including T-shirts and signed Donaroo posters, between performances. The few lucky winners went on stage to answer a trivia question to receive their prize. During the last raffle, freshman Ali Pyle humorously pouted and demanded Choi pick a new ticket until she could win something. After Choi felt bad for the unfortunate girl, he invited her on stage, where she offered to spontaneously perform for the audience. She sang the ABC’s backwards, and the crowd laughed and enjoyed the casual mood of the night.