“Showtime at Harper” celebrates diverse talents of local Black communities


Jazz band, “Timeless Gifts” serve as the opening act for the first ever “Showtime at Harper” event hosted in the Building J Theater on February 23, 2023. (Photo by Ashley Flaim)

Guests, students and staff gathered at the J Theatre at Harper College for the very first “Showtime at Harper,” a variety show which showcased several different talents from the local African American communities. 

Organized by the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the event had the auditorium filled with loud chatter and commotion before the show started at 6 p.m. on February 23. As soon as the performers were ready, the audience was all ears. 

The program began with a quick welcome from Harper professor and Coordinator for Student Diversity Initiatives Monica Shirley. Shirley explained just how important dance and song is in Black culture. With that in mind, vocalists and dance performers translated that theme throughout the whole show.

“I just wanted the audience to take away a little bit of Black culture,” Shirley said. 

As February was Black History Month, the performers and crew for “Showtime” were tasked with creating a show that celebrates the importance of this time of year, while still providing a crowd-pleasing experience.

“I thought the event was very lively,” Harper student Jacob Cwenar said. “People were very supportive of each other.” 

The show consisted of a musical performance from the jazz group Timeless Gifts, a stomp-and-clap dance number from Micaiah Kelly, a poetry reading by Tamia Fouche, and a group dance routine by the Orange Krush Majorette & Drill Team; Dorian Oxford took to the stage with a solo guitar piece, while the Jesse White Tumblers took to the skies with their acrobatics. Individual vocal performances by Olivia Kelly, Jessie Clanton and Treasure Indiamaowei rounded out the rest of the lineup. 

Of these performances, Shirley made sure to showcase not only young Harper talents, but the skills of Black students from other local schools and from a variety of age ranges: Oxford and Indiamaowei are local high school students, while Kelly is in elementary school. 

“I want other schools to know we are here, [and] that we have facilities that they can use,” Shirley said.

In between each performance, many in the audience sang or danced along to the transitional rap and hip hop music. There was never a quiet moment during the show.

“[The show was] really special: it felt nice to see my culture be embraced, and see how far we’ve come, and I had a really great time,” Harper student and audience member Destiny Williams said. “I can’t wait for next year’s performance!”