Binghamton University got a taste of Harlem Thursday night as the Charles Drew Minority Pre-Health Society and Binghamton University Gospel Choir hosted the second annual Apollo Night.
The competition drew more than 50 people to the Undergrounds to hear a mix of soloists and student groups perform.
Emcees encouraged the audience to take control by holding up their “womp” signs to acts they didn’t like.
“The show mimics the Apollo Theater in Harlem, yes, but there wasn’t enough womping this year,” said Olukolapo Alli, an alumnus of Binghamton University.
Olukemi Akinde, a junior majoring in English, won Apollo Night with an original poem. Akinde said she was excited about her victory, which earned her a gift card prize. She said that she was glad the audience received her poem’s message.
“I love performing, acting, whatever — I love it all,” she said. “I’m really happy that the crowd understood what I was trying to say.”
Alli, who came in second place, serenaded the crowd with a cover of “Pretty Wings” by Maxwell. He later said he had felt the pressure of performing in front of such a large audience.
“It feels good,” Alli said. “This is my second time, and it feels the same as the first; I was very nervous. There were a lot of good performers.”
Alli was one of nine participants who made it to the judging round and the only singer to place among the top three competitors.
This year’s Apollo Night saw a greater variety in performances, with many more rappers and spoken word artists.
In addition to this, there was also an open mic event that gave members of the audience the chance to showcase their talents on stage.
“This year there’s definitely more people and it’s more versatile,” said Stella Ogunleye, president of the Pre-Health Society and a senior majoring in psychology.
The money received from selling tickets was shared between the Charles Drew Minority Pre-Health Society and the BU Gospel Choir to fund their respective goals. For the Pre-Health Society, the money was one step closer to taking one of their most important trips of the year.
“One of our yearly goals is to attend a conference, held by the Student National Medical Association (SNMA). One of our main objectives is to fundraise then allocate our funds to attend this conference,” said Kingston St. Louis, historian of the Pre-Health Society and a junior majoring in biological sciences.
Ogunleye, however, explained that their motivation for hosting the event was not only to raise money for their business matters.
“We’re known for the professional side so we wanted to show that we can have fun as well,” Ogunleye said.
Likewise, Shanice Hodge, the Binghamton University Gospel Choir president, said that the purpose of the competition was about more than raising money.
“Giving people the chance to freely express themselves on stage,” said Hodge, a senior majoring in theater. “Whether it’s singing, dancing or whatever. I feel like Apollo Night is a safe haven for artists of all types to come out and express themselves.”
“This Apollo Night, a lot more people came out but there was a greater variety in the performances. There were people from New York City and from BCC that came out for this. There are a lot of other people out there that have a lot of things they want to say and share with the student body,” Hodge said.