Junior mass communication major Akeel Johnson hugged his friend, sophomore computer science major Cameron Bennett, before performing a song he wrote for Bennett Thursday night at the Naked but Real open mike event in the Baker building.
The song was a short part of the three-hour event, which included singers, rappers and poets (and one solo pianist) and was hosted by Stella Hall director Jeremy Hunt.
“I was nervous,” Johnson said. “I’ve performed at the other Naked but Reals but it’s always a nervous experience being in front of other people and letting out something you do personally, but it’s really a good feeling seeing that support.”
Phi Epsilon Nu co-president Kime Sims said her organization worked with the Black Student Association to put on this year’s open mike.
Johnson, who is taking over hosting the event from Hunt, said he enjoyed seeing Hunt interacting with the crowd, and how supportive everyone was.
“It’s going to be a change,” Johnson said about his plans to inherit hosting. “I never really taken over open mike but I’ve been to all of them. I think it will be a good experience to take it on from him. I’ve also learned a lot from him and we’re really close friends.”
He likes the idea of giving an event for the creative people on campus.
“I believe Naked but Real is a good way to get people to express themselves and really get out there,” Johnson said. “Originally I was looking for a way to get the more artistic people on campus: creative minds, idealists, musicians and poets, etc. together in one place to do what they love to do so they can do something with their passion. I think it’s a good way to get those people that aren’t really into clubs a way to do that.”
Sims, a senior English major, said she wanted to have this event to help get the word out there is a club on campus that allows people to express themselves.
“I think this event was able to let people know we exist,” Sims said. “For (Writer’s) Pen, it gave a lot of our members a chance and other people to express themselves. It’s really awesome.”
Sims said her favorite part was watching how people in the audience were impacted by the performances.
“My favorite part was when the audience got involved in what people were doing,” Sims said. “At one point people started raising their phone lights, clapping, and waving their arms. I think that participation is really what we like to see.”
Freshman undecided major Qualon “Q” Gray, was a member in that audience, who came out to support his friends.
“It was my first one so I want to come see what it was all about,” Gray said, “and my friends were performing so I wanted to see them perform.”
Gray thought the performers were all talented and meaningful and he said he would definitely come to the next open mike.
“It’s great people doing great things and great expressions,” Gray said. “That’s what it’s all about.”
Both Gray and Phi Epsilon Nu’s other co-president, sophomore undecided major Yonatzin Cardoso, agreed their favorite act of the night was sophomore English major Calvin Johnson.
“My favorite part of the night was Calvin because I feel like he was so relatable,” Cardoso said. “It was real. It was Naked but Real.”
Sophomore undecided major Yonatzin Cardoso performs an original poem at Naked but Real. Photo by Hannah Onder.