‘A way of expression’

UAB’s Got Talent evokes inspiration, emotion among students

Juwariyah Wright
Blazer News Reporter

IMG 4244Vianna Benjamin
Second place

Vianna Benjamin, freshman in chemistry, has been singing since she was seven years old, and didn’t start singing in public until she was twelve. Her experience as a praise of worship leader at church in her home of Gulfport, Mississippi, opened her up to a love of gospel music. 

“It’s a way of expression, I love to make people feel the same way I feel through my voice,” Benjamin said.

Benjamin says she’s had six years of training in classical choir and voice lessons and as of now is a professional singer. “Usually I like to have creative freedom, and I’ll let [clients] choose from that which I can do, and that way I can be comfortable and give the best performance I can.” 

Benjamin’s singing is also deeply rooted in her family’s familiarity with it, especially her mother and sister.  

“My mom was a performer when she was a kid,” Benjamin said. “My great-uncle had a hotel and café, and she was the opening and closing act. My sister used to perform for organizations like the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, the YMCA, and at banquets and weddings.” 

Benjamin also pulls inspiration from Chloe x Halle, a contemporary R&B due consisting of two sisters. 

“They’re some new artists, but they’re known for making great covers and making great music even greater by putting their own style to it,” said Benjamin, who also says she tries to reproduce that feeling in her audience. “Everything I do is unique, every song that I sing I like to add my own style to. I like to change a couple of notes or rifts just to make it original to fit my style and flare.”

For Benjamin, being on stage is a culmination of intense emotions. “Right before I get caught on stage, it’s an intense feeling, like a balloon getting filled with water, and as soon as I get on stage it’s like that balloon bursting and letting out all that energy, excitement and those emotions that I’ve rehearsed over and over,” Benjamin said. 

For booking: viannab1@icloud.com

TALENT WINNERSAbby and Jacob Commerford
First Place 

Abby,, and Jacob Commerford are a brother-sister duo who incorporate the blues and a splash of improvisation to create a whimsical sound.  Abby coined the term for the both of them this past summer, when Jacob would play the guitar and Abby would sing along.  Jacob, who has been playing the guitar for about a year now, says he enjoys music that can be added on to. 

“Music that emulates that sort of feel, where you feel like everybody’s contributing to one piece of art, is sort of transient,” Jacob said. “It’s always different and changed forever. It’s never played the same way twice.” The two recently won first place at UAB’s Got Talent, an annual talent show hosted by the University Programs Board. They walked away with a one-thousand-dollar scholarship. “Being on stage super energizing and just makes you want to keep going.” said Abby, freshman in nursing.  

The pair have a shared Spotify playlist that they add songs to, and will cover them later on together, usually in an eclectic way.

 “She mostly has an eidetic memory of every song ever written, so she’ll just pick from the library of songs that she knows, and I’ll try to learn something on guitar, and will just look at the chords and hear it out,” said Jacob, about him and Abby practicing together. 

The duo has slight differences in their tastes in music, as well as inspirations in general. 

“Lady Gaga does all sorts of genres, and I find a lot of her music to be very honest and true to who she is,” said Abby, who saID she’s always been on stage as a child. “Her versatility is just fantastic to me.” 

Jacob, who introduced Abby to the blues genre that she now loves, wanted to emulate what he heard in the genre. 

“I find the idea of a lone guy and a jangly guitar in a shack somewhere singing the blues very honest,” said Jacob, who enjoyed jamming out with friends in high school, and experienced a spark of creativity in hearing a rock band. “I went to a concert by ‘All Them Witches’ here in Birmingham, and that’s the night I was like ‘I have to start playing music.’” 

Abby finds the blues to be her favorite thing to sing, especially since she finds more comfort in lower notes.

“It’s very much in my range, and I like the creepy, almost grimy aesthetic,” she said, also pointing out that it would be a fun transition from singing other people’s stuff to potentially making their own originals.

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Josh Holsey
Crowd Favorite

Josh Holsey, junior in biology, has more than 25,000 streams on his most recent single, ‘Fire.’ Josh Holsey, junior in biology, has more than 25,000 streams on his most recent single, ‘Fire.’ 

“It’s about the Holy Spirit and letting that be guiding and comforting,” Holsey said. “It’s like, ‘I don’t have any fears because of this fire that I have within me.’” 

Holsey has been making music independently for about a year now, but has had history with a group at his church. 

"It started off with a guy at my church who did Christian rap, but decided to not continue because there’s a lot of dark places in the rap music industry, but he kept on writing music and singing,” Holsey said.

“He knew couldn’t sing so he prayed about it, and god gave him a vision to start a group at our church to write and produce music.” 

Shortly after, Holsey began producing his own music as a sophomore student.  “My second single ‘Walking on Water’ is more of a ballad,” Holsey said.

“And during finals week people would come to me and tell me it was so encouraging, and right then I knew that I was accomplishing my goal.”  Holsey said he loves the support he’s received with different people of different cultures enjoying his work. “The messages are very Christian but a lot of people can relate to them,” Holsey said.

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