Apollo Night Variety Show-1

Tanner Cameron performs during the Apollo Night Variety Show. She and her partner, Michael Matthew, won first place.

Photographer: Ellis Wallinger

Apollo Night Variety Show-2

Leon McCollum recites some of his poetry at the Apollo Night Variety Show.

Photographer: Ellis Wallinger

Apollo Night Variety Show-3

Michael Matthew plays the piano during the Apollo Night Variety Show.

Photographer: Ellis Wallinger

Featured Stories

Students belt their tunes, bust their moves at Apollo Night Variety Show

Tanner Cameron’s voice echoed throughout the ballroom at Baker University Center as she belted out the lyrics of Ariana Grande’s “Almost Is Never Enough” at the Feb. 7 Apollo Night Variety Show. Ohio University employees, students and their siblings in town for Sibs Weekend watched and ultimately decided that Cameron and her partner, Michael Matthew, had earned top honors at the event held as part of the University’s Black History Month celebration.

Sponsored by the Black Student Cultural Programming Board and the University Program Council, the Apollo Night Variety Show is a talent show modeled after “Amateur Night at the Apollo,” a talent competition that originated in 1934 at the Apollo Theatre in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City. Over the years, the competition has helped launch the careers of such performers as Ella Fitzgerald, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and James Brown.

OHIO’s version of the competition is open to every student and all forms of art. The evening’s three hosts, Brittany Artino, Kellee Perez and Derrick Holifield, explained the rules of the contest: If you like the performer, cheer. If you don’t, boo. But you must allow the performer to perform for 30 seconds before deciding to cheer or boo. Performers who are booed are required to leave the stage, which only happened twice during the competition.

One by one the contestants took the stage to show off their talents. Many of the contestants, including Shoshana Blair, Stephanie Allaire, and Tanner Cameron and Michael Matthew, showed off their vocal talents. Others, including Deneisha Franklin, the MarvelOUs Dancers and a group from the Delta Zeta sorority, showed off their dance moves. And while nearly all the competitors entertained the audience with song and dance, Leon McCollum opted to share some of his poetry.

After each performance, a panel of judges featuring Darius Jenkins, Eliza Straughter, Jeffrey Billingslea and Shambrion Treadwell as well as the audience provided the performers with their honest feedback.

After each contestant had performed, the hosts asked the audience to decide by applause who should take away the evening’s top prize – $200. Ultimately, Cameron and Matthew edged out vocal performance by Stephanie Allaire.

“I was so excited to have won my first Apollo competition. I came in second last year, so this is a big deal for me,” said Cameron. “I could not have done it without my partner (Michael Matthew). He worked so hard and learned this piece on the piano.”

With the competition over, the hosts opened the floor up to members of the audience, giving them an opportunity to showcase their talents in a 30-second freestyle performance. A high school student dazzled the audience with an effortless rap, barely pausing during his performance and walking away with first place in that competition and a cash prize.

“I thought it went very well. The students as well as the sibs in attendance had a great time,” said Winsome Chunnu-Brayda, associate director of OHIO’s Multicultural Programs/Multicultural Center and advisor of the Black Student Cultural Programming Board. “These events are a great a way to feature our students who are program planners.”