Hundreds of students gathered in Binghamton University’s Osterhout Concert Theater in the Anderson Center on Saturday evening to attend the annual Asian Student Union’s (ASU) Asian Night, which featured a diverse slate of cultural performances and a special guest appearance by YouTube sensation and musician, Kina Grannis.
The theme throughout the show was “roots,” and detailed the hardships and struggles that many first-generation Asian American millennials experience.
Several Asian countries were represented throughout the night, including China, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines and Vietnam, which have cultural subgroups housed under the umbrella organization of ASU. Students representing each country performed something unique, such as Chinese fan dances, a Korean drum performance and a Filipino folk dance.
Aside from traditional and cultural acts, some students performed modern dance, sang their own original songs and shared spoken word poetry. Sidney Tung, a freshman majoring in accounting, said that these performances were refreshing.
“I was so shocked when I saw the performances,” Tung said. “Usually people have this stigma that few Asians can make it in the entertainment industry, though this show completely disproves that.”
The Vietnamese Student Association performed a small fashion show, modeling brightly colored Vietnamese dresses. Each dress featured soft pastels with floral sequins and loose, flowing pants that swayed as each model gracefully walked the runway.
After student performances, musician Grannis took the stage. Grannis is an Asian American artist who gained popularity through YouTube by posting covers of modern songs as well as original pieces. She now has a million YouTube followers, is signed to a major record label and stars in the popular mini-series, “Single by 30.”
As soon as the crowd saw Grannis’ shadow take the dimly lit stage, the theater filled with excited chanting and clapping. The musician graciously thanked the audience for coming out to the event and staying to hear her perform.
The audience listened as Grannis sang passion-filled songs, featuring themes such as first love, dealing with anxiety and losing loved ones. When Grannis’ most popular single, “Valentine,” was played, the crowd sang along.
“I love how down-to-earth she is,” Tung said. “All of her songs are so relatable and she just seems like such a sweet and amazing person.”
Samantha Ng, co-events coordinator of ASU and a sophomore double-majoring in human development and Asian and Asian American studies, shared that the club chose Grannis for her mainstream appeal.
“Kina is one of the Asian American artists that have actually kind of reached a point of success where it’s not just Asian Americans who know her,” Ng said. “So because she hopped over that barrier that a lot of Asian Americans face in the music industry, we wanted to celebrate that.”
ASU holds various events throughout the year to promote Asian American awareness on campus, though the club has been working to encourage a more diverse membership.
“We have been trying to make it so clear to the student body that everyone can enjoy our events.” Ng said. “We try to defy those stereotypes … we really try to provide a more inclusive community not just limited to Asian Americans.”