COLUMBIA – A large crowd gathered under what shade was provided by two large trees at the east end of Douglass Park on the final day of the 18th Black and White Ball. Despite the heat, they packed in around a small stage that had been set up on Sunday afternoon to watch a talent show.
They gathered, cheered and applauded one participant after another. The crowd cheered loudly as Zaquiel Houston, 13, moon-walked across the stage to Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean." Houston, who has been dancing since he was seven, was clad in a shiny black jacket, hat and white sequined glove, emulating the pop icon.
Gredia Bell, 32, sang "I Made It," a song that she wrote herself. Bell said she has been singing since she was a little girl and writing her own music for the last five years.
"Singing is what helps me get through a lot," Bell said.
Friends and family members held up their cell phones to record the performances as they cheered loudly. As the show got rolling more people came from around the park to listen to the performers. Some members of the audience even got up and danced along to the music.
Anna Linzie, the event organizer, stood at the edge of the stage calling for the next participant on her list. Participants hung around the edge of the stage waiting for their name to be called. Linzie said that 30 people were participating in the talent show. Participants ranged from young children to adults over the duration of the event.