NYCHA TALENT SHOW HITS HARLEM
NEW YORK (April 21, 2011) – The world-famous Apollo Theater, located around the corner from this equally historic publishing company, has launched the careers of some of the world’s top musical stars, from Ella Fitzgerald to Michael Jackson, from Sammy Davis Jr. to Gladys Knight.
This past weekend, some new stars, both young and old, were born when the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) staged its 41st annual Talent Show competition at the history-filled Harlem venue.
The Talent Show and Competition, which provides a professional venue for NYCHA residents to showcase their talents through different art forms – primarily music and dance, was held on the theme “Remember the Time”.
The entertainers left wonderful memories, from the Michael Jackson-inspired dance moves of young Shemar Dudley, the winner of the children’s category, to seniors champion Gene Waiters who presented a spunky rendition of ” Midnight Hour”. Apollo patrons left the venue thoroughly satisfied with NYCHA’s citywide talent reservoir.
Addressing the audience after the performances, NYCHA Chairman John Rhea described the afternoon’s performers as “legends in the making,” as some of the renditions truly rivaled those offered on popular talent shows such as American Idol.
CAPTION: NYCHA Chairman John Rhea with award-winning dancer Sylvia Cunningham at The Apollo Theater. Photo credit: Leticia Barboza, NYCHA.
I was particularly bowled over by the talent, grace and wisdom of 70 year-old Sylvia Cunningham from the Todt Hill Development, who danced more like her shoe size than her age, to Whitney Houston’s “I Look to You.”
Ms. Cunningham athletically danced across the Apollo stage, inspiring patrons to draw on God’s strength, while she demonstrated that fitness and grace have no age limits.
Her performance, which earned second spot in the seniors category, must have caused degrees of deliberation for the judges who included radio personality Bob Slade and Kathy Jordan Sharpton. While she officially scored silver, I personally would have given her the gold not only in hers but the overall category.
The event, masterfully emceed by the versatile JP Justice, is another reminder of New York City’s cultural treasures that residents often overlook.
It also reminded me of the importance of continuing to seek those interludes in life – interludes from the hustle and bustle of the every day – where you take time to laugh, time to cry and time to appreciate the gifts, talents and abilities of our neighbors.
I now eagerly anticipate next weekend’s performance of Cuban vocalist Xiomara Laugart who is set to take the Jamaica Performing Arts Center by storm on Saturday, April 30.