York Students Host Safe Space Event For York College Artists

By Kourtney Webb

York College is filled with many talented musicians. This is reflected in the talent shows York College hosts throughout the school year. York college student Randy Houston wanted to showcase these talents by inviting York students to perform their own original music.

“Quite a few of our students, write, compose and perform their original pieces,” said Houston. “I wanted to give York College students a platform for them to express themselves. Working with the Male Initiative Program and Men’s center, Professor Jonathan Quash gave me the tools and guidance to conduct a barbershop (a safe space) for people to share their talents.”

The talented group of performers were selected by Houston. The goal of the platform Houston created was for the artists to get live feedback from audience members.

“Over the course of this semester I heard the artists selected perform,” said Houston. “When I asked them what their next step would be to get into the industry they seemed to need some guidance. I reached out to all of them asking if they would be interested in the positive feedback of their peers and they all agreed.”

Performers belted out their best original tunes and the crowd responded to each of the performers with praise and support. The intimate setting of the teachers lounge in the Academic Core Building helped ease the nerves of the performers and allowed them to really connect with their audience.

A York College alumna, who goes by the stage name Alyssa Marie, sang two songs off her album she plans to release on Valentine’s day titled You are Love. She said the showcase was great because it allowed students to perform music they worked hard on.

“It’s hard to pursue your dreams,” she said. “It’s especially hard if singing is your talent. Everyone can sing. The fact that this event gave York students and alumni the chance to perform our original music is beautiful.”

Houston is no stranger to the stage. He played CeCe in the 2013 York College performance of Dreamgirls. Critics raved about his soulful sound and powerful delivery of the role. He also designs clothing in his spare time. His designs were last seen at the Mugler Fashion show competition where international Pop artist Rihanna was a judge. His look was chosen for the grand prize. His most recent work on the York Production of Race blew audiences away. He took a behind the scenes role for this event to help out other performers who may not have had the experience in the spotlight. As a soon-to-be 2017 graduate, he understands the importance of being heard as an artist.

“I wanted vocalists of all levels to participate,” said Houston. “York college does a great job of exposing students’ talents within each department. The Theater, Fine Arts and Music departments do a fantastic job of teaching our students. But, we could always use more safe spaces to voice our opinions and works. We need more platforms that allow feedback. That’s what this showcase was about.”

Houston said he hopes that the performers learned a great deal from the show and that he hopes to put on more events like this at York.

“I hope the performers were enlightened, and educated on the importance of being themselves,” he said. “They have to understand that their creativity is precious, and that they should never be afraid to be true to themselves on stage. York College always has their backs. I hope that in my senior year more students will be inspired to put together not only art-based shows, but shows that allow one to express their creativity in a comfortable, loving place. My dream for York is to work as a community to share knowledge so that we all can grow.”

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