The Stony Brook Unicef Campus Initiative hosted its third annual talent show in the Student Activities Center Auditorium on Wednesday night.
This year, the event was used to highlight the End Child Marriage campaign, an effort to combat the practice of forcing minors, most commonly young girls, into marriage. This practice is most prevalent in South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and Bangladesh, according to unicef.org. Donations were accepted at the door and videos with stark images of the reality of child marriage were shown during intermissions.
Eshani Goradia, a sophomore biology major, and Aditi Prabhu, a sophomore biology and psychology major, kicked off the show with a duet of “Little Do You Know” by Alex and Sierra. Their harmonies mixed so seamlessly that you wouldn’t guess it was their first time singing together.
Following them was Frankie Matos, a junior music major. First, he sang “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran while playing his acoustic guitar. The audience cheered and began clapping to the beat after he effortlessly hit the highest and most powerful note of the song.
His second song was an original love song called “My Remedy.” Some of his friends in the audience showed their support by singing along.
Jakub Lewkowicz, a senior journalism and music major, also showed his ability to play an instrument and sing at the same time. With his piano, he created a beautiful ballad out of “Teenage Fever” by Drake.
The TYS dance crew brought up the energy with their lyrical street choreography. Their styles ranged from dramatic fluid movements with the mellow song “Sweater Weather” by The Neighbourhood to fierce hip-hop with “Trap Queen” by Fetty Wap.
At the last UNICEF talent show, they took home the first place trophy.
“We’ve grown a lot since last year,” Ryder Wong Spurgeon, a junior Asian American studies major and secretary of the dance team, said. “The OG members have gotten better and the new members have definitely brought more talent.”
All the lights shut off for the next performance. Himanshu Kattelu, a junior computer science major, displayed a different talent with his hypnotic light performance. His routine of spinning lights synchronized with the music elicited the loudest applause of the night and even a thumbs up from a custodian passing by.
Osama Khalil, a junior applied math and statistics and economics major, wrapped up the night with a fiery dance medley performed with two backup dancers, all in brightly colored matching outfits. He is an instructor of the recreation center’s Bollywood Fitness and Zumba classes and used songs and choreography from his classes to spice up the show.
Although some songs were recognized by members of the audience, Khalil performed the familiar routine with new vigor and energy. His hips made the audience go wild, with students chanting his name frequently throughout the dance.
The entire show was live streamed on the Stony Brook Unicef Campus Initiative’s Facebook page, and all who watched, either in person or online, were able to vote through a Google form.
Khalil won 24.8% of the votes, earning the title of runner-up. Matos dominated with 55.9% of the votes, taking home the trophy for first place. Matos has performed at this talent show every year since its creation and this was his first time placing.
“It’s my first music award,” Matos said. “It’s like my first Grammy.”
The organization hopes to see this talent show become a growing annual tradition with more performers and bigger audiences, Amanda Bengel, a senior applied mathematics and statistics major and the president of the Stony Brook Unicef Campus Initiative, said.
Although the show ended on a high note, each member of the audience left with a clearer image of how child marriage is affecting the world.
“Seeing these videos opened the door to all these things I have never heard about,” Harpreet Singh, a junior biology major and audience member, said. “It made me feel like I was basically there and that I have to do something about it.”
All of the proceeds from the night will go toward UNICEF’s various campaigns, such as their End Violence, Believe in Zero and End Child Marriage campaigns.