Junior physics major Philip Otey onstage at the Open Mic night in the Student Center Pit. These events highlight some of Rowan University's diversely talented student performers. Staff Photo/Nicole Mingo

Talents of all kinds were welcomed by Rowan After Hours at Open Mic Night on Friday in the Student Center Pit. Acts included music, poetry and magic.

First to take the stage was junior music industry major Andrew Moorer, a singer and guitarist. At the age of seven, Moorer began singing in musical theater. In middle school, he took up the guitar and first wrote his own music.

“I started out performing at open mics around the South Jersey area, mainly at a Starbucks in Mount Laurel,” Moorer said. “I’ve played music venues in Philly. This past summer, that’s all I did for money. I made the biggest salary ever in my life.”

His beginnings at small venues complimented the intimate feeling of the Student Center Pit, where he will host his own open mic nights on Tuesday from 8 to 10 p.m., with sign-ups starting at 7:30 p.m.

Next came Erin Fitzsimmons, a freshman exploratory studies major. As a singer, her repertoire consists of “jazz and anything by Fleetwood Mac.”

Her musical journey began at the age of 12 upon joining chorus and theater. Fitzsimmons draws major inspiration from singer Rosemary Clooney, who she first saw in the movie “White Christmas.”

“I’m not a music major or anything, but I’m just really grateful to have this opportunity to share my talent,” Fitzsimmons said. “I don’t get to do it very often, so I love that this is a program that we have.”

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Junior radio, television and film major Eric Conklin was the first poet of the night. He opened with a joke: “Why was Ariel the valedictorian of her high school graduating class? Because she never got anything under a sea!” 

His performance took on a more serious tone as he read some poems by other authors as well as himself. His own, titled “Brilliant People,” dealt with the unwillingness of the government to adequately provide higher education for young adults across the country.

“I got so angry that I decided to write a poem about it and how I felt,” Conklin said.

He prefaced the poem with words of inspiration for the audience and said, “No matter what you want in life, just keep fighting and striving for that goal. Don’t give up until you better yourself.”

Returning to music, junior physics major Phillip Otey set up his electric guitar and performed originals and covers. He lamented the current state of pop music, saying he much prefers playing his own music or that of groups like the Stone Temple Pilots or Rage Against the Machine.

On his songwriting process, Otey said, “It’s really not chords first or lyrics first. It’s inspiration first. I can write fairly well now, and I’ve written over 200 half-songs. Most of them are horrible, but there’s some gems in there.”

One of his original pieces titled “Bloody Murder,” was performed at the event.

Rounding out the night was freshman musical theater major Nathan Benson, who performed card tricks. Benson involved the audience in his act, asking a few participants to pick from his deck of cards. 

“In middle school, I learned a good couple dozen tricks,” Benson recalled. “As life caught up with me, I stopped focusing on magic, and I just kind of retained a couple of my favorite tricks.”

Several of these favorites were showcased at the open mic.

Following Benson’s performance, the lineup was complete, but some time still remained. Benson volunteered to sing, capping off the event with Keane’s “Somewhere Only We Know.”

Sophomore marketing major Tommy Johnson didn’t realize how diversely talented some of Rowan’s students were.

“It was an entertaining event,” Johnson said, “I don’t think I could work up the nerve to get on stage, so I give all the performers a lot of credit.”

For comments/questions about this story, email arts@thewhitonline.com or tweet @TheWhitOnline.

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