By GABRIELLA CRUZ-MARTÍNEZ
Kenwood Academy High School, 5015 S. Blackstone Ave., hosted a one-of-a-kind talent showcase to call attention to the choir program and raise a little money for its Concert Choir. The program, which featured performances by alumni, staff, and Hyde Park community members, also raised $275 to help with uniforms, travel expenses and competitions.
This special edition showcase titled “Kenwood’s Got Talent,” took place on Feb. 23. The Bronco parent-led fundraising event included special performances by several former Kenwood alums like Maggie Brown and Al Smith, as well as Kenwood teacher Marcus Wilson, and Choir Director Richard Nunley.
Al Smith, a Kenwood ’72 graduate performed “Quiet Nights” with his mother Genevieve Smith, who began performing recitals at age 11 in the Symphony Center downtown.
“Performing at Kenwood again has been a phenomenal experience,” said Al Smith, who had only returned to the school a handful of times since graduating. “It’s a blessing to be in a musical family, and just to be here remembering things like being a named the solo first-year clarinet in the band room a few doors down from this auditorium so many years ago.”
The band room Al Smith spoke of is the Kenwood Choir Room that was recently remodeled to honor Choir Director Richard Nunley last month, who is beginning to serve his 10th year at Kenwood.
Genevieve Smith said that it was “a joy to be back in Kenwood after so many years with her son and to see all the familiar faces of the school family.”
The talent showcase had a variety of performances that included singing, spoken word, poetry, comedy, improve, and dance.
In a more somber note, a moment of silence was led by the Determined to Obtain Pure Excellence (DOPE) Youth Program Inc. for the lives lost due to gun-violence and police brutality in recent years.
Kenwood students participating in the 10-week DOPE program, with the purpose to cause awareness for under-served and under-represented youth, presented a video with images of the 17 victims of the recent Florida school shooting. The video presentation also included lives lost like Eric Garner – who lost his life after being held down by an NYPD officer and heard gasping “I can’t breathe.”
“Our next generation, generation X has the ability to lead the nation to a better and higher plato,” said Niama Malachi who leads the DOPE program at Kenwood.
The program, which was recently incorporated in Chicago, currently has 20 students enrolled that will be graduating in three weeks.
After the presentation, Malachi quoted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and advised students with his words, “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
“Be the change you want to see,” added Malachi.
The talent show concluded with an amazing performance by the Concert Choir parents and the presentation of a 50/50 raffle activity, where 50 percent of the money raised went to a lucky winner and Bronco parent Missy Bacon, who decided to donate her prize back to the Concert Choir.
“We should bring back talent shows,” said Maggie Brown, a Bronco parent and former Kenwood alum. “Coming together and having fun in outlets like this is healthy. We hope to repeat this again next year.”