STUdents take the stage: STU’s Got Talent is back

Still of some of the participants of the event of St. Thomas University Got Talent. held this past January 15th at the Ted Daigle Auditorium. (Daniel Salas/AQ)

The room was filled with singing and dancing as 12 students showcased their talents. For some, it was their first time on stage, while others had performed for audiences twice as large. 

From guitar duos to dancing and piano solos, STU’s Got Talent took place on Jan. 15 at the Ted Daigle Auditorium and was organized by the St. Thomas University Students’ Union. The competition gave away $150 and $100 Amazon gift cards for first and second place respectively, while third place got a mystery bundle.

But some were not after prizes.

“I wasn’t expecting to come out of there winning or anything,” said third-year sociology and fine arts student Dominique Jean, who won first place. “That was a very pleasant surprise.”

Jean is a multi-instrumentalist who has been singing for over a decade, although this performance was the first after some time away from the stage due to health complications.

“I thought it would be a good first step to getting back into it. Just one song for me, it felt manageable,” she said about putting her name up for the talent show.

She performed “Hold You Close,” a song she wrote in memory of her late nephew, Avery. Jean added that the song was inspired by the few hours after she received the news of his passing.

“It was over the phone that we found out and just hearing the screams and stuff and [my sister] going through so much pain. That was kind of the inspiration.”

Jean delighted the audience and judges with “Hold You Close,” which she performed with her guitar. She posted the video of her singing to YouTube, where she shares her music, mostly consisting of covers on various instruments. Aside from guitar, she also plays the piano and ukelele.

A strikingly different yet equally captivating performance got the second-place prize. Emmanuelle Jackson took the stage by surprise with an improvisation dance to the song “Rush,” by Troye Sivan.

Like Jean, they were also on a break from performing live but felt compelled to participate in the talent show.

“I always do the coffee houses and things like that,” they said. “I don’t choreograph anything. Just kind of whatever comes to mind when I’m okay. That’s generally what I do.”

Having danced for around 17 years, Jackson said they love to dance in any capacity, whether it is alone or with an audience.

“I never get really nervous performing or anything like that. I get to explore and be on stage and perform and it’s just really fun,” Jackson said.

Their improvisation included dance moves from jazz, waacking, heels dancing and hip hop. The result was a show-stopping mix of genres that made the public audibly wow and hype them up.

“I was just going because I knew I enjoyed performing and if I won, that was a great bonus,” said Jackson.

Silas Austin, third place at the talent show, sang a piece inspired by the controversial 1944 holiday tune “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” which is featured in the 1949 film Neptune’s Daughter.

“It’s like a romantic version of it,” said Austin when introducing the song and tuning the piano.

The evening was filled with emotion, music and talent, presented to an audience of over 50 people. Jean encouraged aspiring artists at the university to participate in future opportunities like this.

“I’ve had a lot of amazing people that have helped me out over the years … getting back into performing and getting used to being on stage, and that’s a really important part. So I think just don’t give up on what you’re after and what you’re dreaming of.”