The Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business’s 2015 showcase season kicked off with the Christian Music Showcase Saturday night with performances from The Many, Tanner Azzinnaro, The Orchardist and Jared Mitchell. The Orchardist was selected as the winner of the show and will play again in the annual Best of the Best Showcase at the end of the school year.
“We were ready to share some of the music that we have been cultivating for such a long a time with a big live audience,” Janie Townsend of The Orchardist said after the win. “To be given the opportunity to do what we love on such a platform was an honor.”
The Many opened the night with a high-energy performance, lead singer Hannah Rand getting the audience clapping and singing along with one cover and two passionate original songs. The band’s skillful command of the whole stage, percussion-led invitation to worship and the enhanced visual effects led to a crowd-pleasing set and an exciting way to start the show.
Next sophomore Tanner Azzinnaro, drawing a following to the stage as he and his band showed rocking chemistry and bounced around the stage, utilizing the smoke effects and lights to craft an intense three-song set. Along the way, Azzinnaro shared some of the personal message behind his songs, stressing the need for people to love themselves as God loves them. Unique to this year’s showcase, Azzinnaro finished his set with a spirited (no pun intended) speed-rap.
The Orchardist took the stage in its second Christian Showcase performance in two years. Bringing to the stage its trademark folk sound with the beginning of their act, the showcase’s winners also brought some surprises to the show with vocalist Janie Townsend’s harmonica solo, keyboardist Kelly Lenahan’s Irish dancing skills and the first live performance of their new song “Bleeding Heart.”
Senior Jared Mitchell achieved a years-long dream as he finished out the night with a powerful performance that had the crowd on its feet and dancing along. Mitchell’s vocal prowess, spiritual invocations and the band’s unique, flashy style brought a fun spirit to the more traditional contemporary worship songs that it relied on, bringing the show to a dazzling conclusion.
Throughout the show special lighting techniques and visual promotions lent a new level to the show’s entertainment. Made possible by the work of over 150 production staff, the show’s new look was born of producer Grace Watson’s vision for a show with a deeper meaning on both a technical and a spiritual level.
The first showcase of the year, the Christian showcase has traditionally suffered for the nascent production, but not this year. Instead, Watson and her team brought a show of the same caliber as shows put on months into the school year.
“Instead of a worship service feel, full of bright colors and a warm atmosphere, it took inspiration from Daniel 2:22, which states, ‘He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in the darkness, and light dwells with him,’” Watson said. “All of the acts playing on Saturday night are hopefuls in the music industry, and both spiritually and career wise, there is a literal coming out of the darkness that must take place; so from that, I named the show.”
The 2015 CEMB Urban/Pop Showcase will be held on Saturday, Oct. 17 in the Curb Event Center at 7 p.m.
Article by Riley Wallace and Andrew Hunt Photos by Andrew Hunt and Hunter Morgan