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Black culture, talent pays off with sold-out show

April 9, 2001

LANSING - For the first time, Keepin’ It Real, a student talent show in its second year, was coupled with the ninth annual Taste of Blackness, which showcases many different aspects of black culture Saturday at the Lansing Center.

The shows joined forces in an effort to combat the struggling ticket sales Taste of Blackness was experiencing in the past couple of years - and it was a success.

Keepin’ It Real coordinator Karen Stewart is pleased with the positive outcome of this year’s event.

“Taste (of Blackness) wasn’t doing so well, so we decided to put the two together and both events sold out,” the kinesiology junior said. “We met three times a week for a couple of months and it paid off.

“There were people from all across Michigan. The word really got out this year.”

And music was a major part of Taste of Blackness.

There were at least three booths dedicated to music, including Wherehouse Records and Warner Brothers Records, which sold posters and raffled off tickets to Lil’ Bow Wow’s upcoming concert in Detroit.

“Our booth was visited by at least 3,500 people,” said Ian Wallace, supply chain management junior and Warner Brothers representative.

In addition to the vendors at Taste of Blackness, the fashion show and wax museum were things to remember.

Although there was no wax involved, marketing senior and former Mr. Black MSU Deandre Carter, performed as Nobel Peace Prize winner Ralph Bunche.

Keepin’ It Real showcases MSU students and gives them a chance to keep it real while singing, dancing, rapping or by doing some other special talent.

Last semester, Ypsilanti resident Anthony Beckley and friends traveled to MSU for Fake Da Funk, but the show was sold out.

He waited outside in the cold until he purchased a ticket for $35, valued at $10.

“This year we planned ahead. And even though it wasn’t cold out, I wasn’t going to pay triple for a ticket,” Beckley said.

And his preparation paid off.

“This (Keepin’ It Real) was better than Fake Da Funk. It was more entertaining because the performers were actually performing,” he said.

And even if the acts didn’t keep the judges attention, comedian and radio personality Foolish kept the audience and judges laughing in between acts with his jokes.

“He really helped the show run smoothly,” said Stacey Owens, judge and supply chain management junior .

Owens was chosen to judge because of his musical background as a hip-hop producer and performer.

“This time, my opinion was valid, I had to put my biases aside and be as fair as possible,” he said.

But Owens and the other judges agreed that the most outstanding performer this year was instructional music education freshman Reginald Page.

Page won both the audience and judges with what he described as a sweet R&B ballad with a strong climax.

“When I saw the show last year, I knew I wanted to participate in Keepin’ It Real,” Page said.

Page’s brother Rodney took first place last year with his own personal rendition of the human beat box.

And while sibling rivalry didn’t come into play, winning wasn’t the only thing on Page’s mind.

“It was a big deal just playing because I’m no stranger to the stage,” he said. “Winning wasn’t everything - playing at my highest potential was most important.”

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