A wonderful showcase of talent, including duets from an eclectic mix of musical genres, will be on display during the 26th edition of Showcase Orangeburg.
More than 20 performers will have their time to shine on the stage of the Stevenson Auditorium in Orangeburg for the event which will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 2, at the auditorium in downtown Orangeburg.
Presented by the Orangeburg County Fine Arts Center and the city of Orangeburg, the annual event kicks off the Orangeburg Festival of Roses, which will be held at the Edisto Memorial Gardens Friday through Sunday, May 3-5.
The theme for this year’s Showcase Orangeburg is “Duets.” Showcase, which has been held since 1993, is a fundraiser for the Fine Arts Center.
“We’re pairing local talent with each other to perform some classic hits. We just wanted to do something kind of different. We do have a couple of groups that are doing some dances, but everybody else is paired off as two, with the exception of the Jarvis Brothers. We’re pretty excited about it,” said OCFAC board member Brooke Rogers.
"We did open the event up to children this year and will have them performing in this year's event. The Odyssey Show Band will be kicking off our event and providing pre-show music," she said.
Rogers will be directing this year’s Showcase, along with Celeste Smith and Phillip Ford.
“We have a lot of new talent, people who have never performed at Showcase. We have some returning people that have performed in the past,” Rogers said, noting that she is delighted with the variety of talent in both music and dance that will be on display this year.
“We have classical, we have ballads and we have lyrical and praise dance. So we’re pretty excited about it,” she said.
Ursula Robinson will serve as this year’s emcee. Robinson, who is an OCFAC board member, is the drama program coordinator and a tenured drama professor at South Carolina State University.
Robinson was named the 2018-2019 University Professor and is an award-winning writer, actress and speaker. She is the artistic director of Ursula O. Robinson Productions and Raise Arts Academy and is chairperson of the Creative Spiritual Arts Department at Spiritual Foundation Ministries in Orangeburg.
Rogers said Showcase Orangeburg highlights more than just local talent, but also helps to bring the community together.
“It lets the community know that that Arts Center is out there and that there are a lot of talented people in our community. We love to be able to find a way for the community to come together and see what Orangeburg has to offer. So many people complain about there’s nothing to do in Orangeburg. Well, there’s plenty to do in Orangeburg and there’s plenty of talented people here who love to give back. And this is a way that they can give back to their community,” Rogers said.
Tickets are $14 for adults and $10 for seniors age 65 and older and children age 12 and under. Tickets can be purchased by calling the OCFAC at 803-536-4074 or at the door. Boxed seating is also available.
Funding assistance for Showcase Orangeburg is provided by the city of Orangeburg Accommodations Tax Fund and the South Carolina Arts Commission, which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Bringing to the stage an array of talent are the following performers:
A senior at Orangeburg Prep, White has been a dancer at Mary Jane’s School of Dance for 14 years. She is captain of her varsity volleyball team, vice president of the Interact Club, and secretary of the National Honor Society. White has also been named a Palmetto Fellow and is valedictorian of her class. She will be attending Clemson University in the fall with a major in biological sciences and hopes to pursue a career in physical therapy.
A native of Columbia, South Carolina, Aiken is a vocal student of Dr. Robert Grenier and is completing a bachelor or arts degree with an emphasis in music industry. She graduates in May 2019 and intends to enlist in the U.S. Army in July. Aiken aims to continue her interest in music through record and producing.
A Georgia native who now resides in Orangeburg, Shoemaker is a fan of all styles of music, particularly county music. She will performing for the first time in Showcase Orangeburg. Shoemaker is employed at Allied Air and also serves as a volunteer firefighter for the Bolentown Fire Department. She also enjoys singing karaoke and starting new DIY projects.
Porter is a 5th grade homeschooler who enjoys playing baseball, soccer and the violin. Other than violin recitals and performances, his Showcase performance will be Porter's first time on stage.
A native of Teaneck, New Jersey, Stevenson has resided in Orangeburg for a decade. He is a multi-instrumentalist who plays the saxophone, flute and harmonica. Stevenson has been a member of Intensity Band for nine years and is also part of the soul jazz duo, Heart and Soul. He has performed as a professional saxophonist, working with jazz great and R&B legend Phyllis Hyman on Broadway. Stevenson is married to his wife, Ramona, and is the father of five and the grandfather of one.
A native of Summerton, Dingle is a mezzo soprano and music educator who holds the following degrees in music education: bachelor of science, master of music and a doctorate of philosophy. Dingle's career includes her service as a church musician, minister of music, a K-12 choral and general music instructor, a collegiate music professor and a music education researcher. She is currently employed as an associate professor of music education at S.C. State University.
Rast, 12, is a 6th grade homeschooler from Cameron, who has been taking clogging lessons from instructor Celeste Smith for six years. She enjoys dance, assisting Smith at her studio and helping in her community. Rast, who aspires to be a professional dancer, attends Four Holes Baptist Church and loves going to Disney World with her family and watching "Dancing with the Stars."
Geornae Debrell Graham
Graham, an Orangeburg resident, is a visual/performing artist who has been instructing, choreographing and dancing for more than 15 years. Graham provides advice, leadership and techniques concerning dance ministry to many local churches and dance organizations. She travels across the country teaching and ministering to others through dance. Her motto is "Ministry First. Dance Second.”
A fifth grader at Orangeburg Prep, Felder is a member of the Jr. Orangeburg Part-Time Players, where he enjoys performing in summer and winter shows. He attends First Baptist Church Orangeburg, where he enjoys participating in the children’s choir. Felder enjoys reading, playing video games and keeping up with the latest technology. The son of Santee couple Chris and Jessica Felder, Felder has a younger brother, Keegan.
H.U.E. Dance Company
Making their first performance in Showcase, H.U.E. Dance Company is a competitive dance company founded by executive director Jasmine Frink and artistic director Sheahan “Shay" Smith on the principles of passion, strength and unity. Its members learn jazz, modern, ballet and hip hop dance and more. The dance company has performed at the Orangeburg Festival of Roses, Claflin Calabash and has competed at other competitions throughout South Carolina, including Stompfest, Boogie Fever and Bring It or Leave It.
Jason Erick Hunt
A minister with a passion for music and ministry, Hunt is a Native American from the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina and the youngest of four children. Hunt received a bachelor of arts degree in American Indian studies, with a minor in music (voice), from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke in 2006. He and his wife, Anna Whittington Hunt, are the parents of three children. Hunt is part of the pastoral staff of the Columbia Road Church of God in Orangeburg and has a passion for contemporary praise and worship and directing the "One Voice" sanctuary choir.
Affectionately known as “Tank", Livingston is a guitarist got his start in music at around age 12. He has played throughout the areas of South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia in a few different bands. S.C. State University, where Livingston had played for the Bulldog football team, was also where he honed his musical craft by playing with some of the members of the university's Marching 101 band. Livingston is a member of the praise and worship team at Orangeburg's Embark Church, where he plays the guitar. He and his wife, Carla, are the parents of two daughters, Makenzie and Madilynn.
A native of Orangeburg, Moss is the head of the theater arts program at Carver-Edisto Middle School and teaches acting for the Orangeburg-Calhoun Arts Consortium during the summer. She is also a singer, playwright and actress who has performed on stages across the Southeast Region and parts of the Midwest. Moss also has a one-woman show called “Dark Berries,” a compilation of poetry, songs and professional and original dramatic text which extol the virtues of black women. Moss is no stranger to the Showcase stage, having performed several times with her two best friends, Yvette McDaniel and Janice McCollom, who make up the women’s trio The Flame Within. Moss will be perfoming this year with her daughter Taylor.
A native of Bethera, Wrenn moved to Nashville, Tennessee, a few years ago to pursue her career as an artist after singing southern gospel with her family most of her life. She moved back home in 2016 when she was offered a position as a flight attendant with Delta Airlines. Wrenn has a unique musical style that resembles that of Aretha Franklin, Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt and Etta James. Often heard singing on Sundays in church or at local community events, she also shares her gift of music on multiple stages across the states. Her music is on iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, Amazon, SoundCloud and many other digital retailers. Wrenn's website is kristinawrennmusic.com.
A sixth-grade student at Orangeburg Prep, Felkel is a dance student at Tamalyn’s Dance Centre and a principal dancer with the Orangeburg Civic Ballet. She has performed in various OCB productions, including their annual full-length production of "The Nutcracker." Felkel has also performed in local theater camps throughout the community, Showcase Orangeburg and the DORA Tree Lighting.
A native of Orangeburg, Paris grew up singing in the church that her father pastored for more than 40 years. She loves to sing and listen to music, enjoying all genres of music, even though her roots are in southern gospel. Paris has served on the Orangeburg-Calhoun Free Medical Clinic board for six years and currently serves as board chairperson. She is the past state director for the Society for Human Resource Managers (SHRM) and continues to serve on the board. Paris has also enjoyed a 27-year career as a market manager for Staffmark.
A 9th-grade Orangeburg Prep student, Rider is a dance student at Tamalyn’s Dance Centre and a principal dancer with the Orangeburg Civic Ballet. She has performed in various OCB productions, including their annual full length production of "The Nutcracker." Rider has also performed with the Jr. Orangeburg Part-Time Players' summer theater.
Kerri A. Wesby
A native of Aiken, Wesby is a senior music industry major at S.C. State University. She started in music at a young age. Wesby plans on pursuing a master's degree following graduation. She would like to then sing professionally and become a music producer after that.
Ford, an Orangeburg native, is the son of Freddie Ford and Michele Bossi. He moved back to Orangeburg after being gone for nearly 12 years. Ford has performed for many events and organizations along the East Coast. An active performer with the Orangeburg Part-Time Players and Calhoun Players, Ford performed on stage in productions from the age of 5 through his college years at The Citadel. While at The Citadel, he performed in The Citadel Cadet Chorale and Gospel Choir. Ford currently works at Eat Smart, Move More South Carolina as the manager of policy, advocacy and community support.
A senior Orangeburg Prep student, Axson has been a student at Mary Jane’s School of Dance for 14 years. She has been a varsity cheerleader for four years, wrestling manager for two years and also participates in varsity soccer. Axson is the Interact president at OP, treasurer of the National Honor Society, a member of Student Council and also tutors students after school. She has been honored as a Presbyterian College Fellow, a SCISA Scholar Athlete and a Capstone Scholar. Rebecca plans to attend the University of South Carolina in the fall, major in pharmaceutical sciences and attend the university's College of Pharmacy to obtain her doctorate degree.
S.C. State University Brass Quintet
Under the direction of Dr. Stephen Reid, the quintet consists of five music majors whose classifications range from sophomore to senior. The quintet performs locally and regionally with a diverse repertoire that spans all musical styles and genres for varied events. The quintet, for example, has performed during the grand opening of the South Carolina Educational Television studio, the Georgia Music Education Conference and for WLTX News 19's "Sounds of the Seasons" segment.
Stephanie Necole Cleckley
A professional music veteran, Cleckley has performed as a featured vocalist/performer with Fame Show Band and jazz duo, Heart and Soul. She sang across the Southeast as the former lead singer of Intensity Show Band for a decade. Cleckley has also performed with the Orangeburg Part-Time Players and Trustus Theater in Columbia. She is owner and master instructor of Music and Movement Matters, a music enrichment program designed for preschoolers and children with special needs. Cleckley has a bachelor of arts degree in organizational management from Claflin University and a master of arts degree in professional counseling from South University. A trained choral director, Cleckley has directed various choirs and ensembles in the Orangeburg community. She is currently the minister of music at Mt. Sinai R.M.U.E. Church. She and her husband, Watson, are the parents of a 9-year-old daughter, Cassidy.
Playing guitar and singing since age 13, Jordan joined a worship team at Lakewood Church in Columbia in 1998. By 2001, she was offered and assumed the position of worship leader at Lakewood, collaborating with a team to create weekly worship services that moved people closer to God through music, lighting, drama and video. Jordan joined Seacoast Church, Irmo Campus, in 2006 and served on the worship team there until 2014. She and her husband, Will, were asked to help with the planting of a church in Columbia in early 2015. Jordan committed to lead the worship team and joined a group of artists in the process. She has played all over the state and spent time in Nashville honing her craft. Jordan is the mother of two children, Hannah, 25, and Ross, 22.
A 12-year-old fifth grader at OP, Fender is a dance student at Tamalyn’s Dance Center. She is also a Soloist I dancer with the Orangeburg Civic Ballet. Fender has performed in "The Nutcracker," "Star Spangled: An American Girls Journey," "Peter Pan" and "The Wizard of Oz" with the Orangeburg Civic Ballet. She is also a member of Jr. Orangeburg Part-Time Players and has played a member of the Lullaby League in "The Wizard of Oz." Fender is a member of the children’s choir at First Baptist Church of Orangeburg.
Tamalyn's Dance Center
Tamalyn’s Dance Center of Orangeburg offers 50 exciting dance classes each week to students age 3 to adult in ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, contemporary and hip hop. The center is home to the Orangeburg Civic Ballet, a nonprofit organization that provides performance opportunities for dancers ages 4 and up. At Showcase, dancers from the center will perform a dance number to Phillip Phillips' "Home."
With a magnetic presence and rich vocal prowess, Johnson is known for delivering stirring performances in the classical medium. The lyric soprano and Orangeburg native has won numerous awards, including winning the first-place award in the prestigious Fritz and Lavinia Jensen Foundation’s 15th annual Voice Competition in 2014. Johnson has also made guest appearances with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and the Charleston Symphony Orchestra. She appeared as Lily/Strawberry Woman in the Cincinnati Opera’s first production of “Porgy and Bess,” resulting in honorable mention for her performance in the national publication, Opera News. An adjunct professor at Claflin University, Johnson is currently working on a musical project that blends classical and popular music genres.
A Denmark native, Smalls resides in Orangeburg. The 25-year-old holds a bachelor of science degree in human performance and recreation from Claflin University, with certifications in the area of sports injuries and fitness nutrition. Smalls currently works at S.C. State University as the administrative coordinator for the Office of Judicial Affairs and Residence Life and Housing. The daughter of Deborah and Robert Mazyck, Smalls is the mother of two daughters of her own, Imani and Jordyn. She enjoys reading, writing and mentoring in her spare time and is a member of Orangeburg's Victory Tabernacle Church, where she sings on the choir.
Timothy A. McKnight Jr.
A 21-year-old Charleston native, McKnight is an actor, model, musician and dancer. He is a first-generation college student at S.C. State, where he studies drama. McKnight is the minister of music at his church, The House of Prayer and Praise Baptist Church, where he also volunteers his time with the Lowcountry Food Bank.
The Jarvis Brothers
A soulful group of singers whose voices are among Orangeburg's most revered treasures will be performing at Showcase Orangeburg. The Orangeburg-based acapella group are known throughout the Southeast for their four- and five-part jubilee-style harmony. Much of the group's harmony is steeped in the traditional gospel spiritual genre that took root and thrived in the deep South. The original band of brothers -- Ulysses, Reginald, Anthony, Donald and Rogers -- performed together for more than 35 years until Reginald's death in March 2007. They are the sons of the late Ulysses Sr. and Anna Jarvis and learned lyrics and harmony from their family, which held spirituals in high esteem. The group won the Elizabeth Verner Governor's Award for the Arts in 2005 and has performed in a variety of venues, including the Smithsonian, the World Methodist Conference of Global Ministry, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Apollo Theater in New York.
Odyssey Show Band
The band is the brainchild of Christopher Etters and Blake Cramer, both of whom wanted to provide quality live music at an affordable price. Etters and Cramer have achieved their goal by bringing in amazing musicians, including Susan Reed-Jordan, Brian Aiken and Steven Jackson. The band wants to engage the crowd through dance moves and audience participation. Combining superb musicianship with amazing showmanship, Odyssey brings the music to life and the audience to their feet.