COLUMBIA — Eight small young boys, wearing matching shirts and white hats, lined the stage carrying large drums strapped to their backs. The group performed a carefully choreographed piece that included marching steps, instrument exchanges and solo performances.
The drummers, all members of the City-Wide Drum Line and Rhythm Band, were led by Glen "Bummer the Drummer" Ward, who walked the stage with a cane in his hand and a whistle in his mouth.
“This is their night,” Ward said to an audience of more than 80 people.
Their performance was the first in Thursday night's "Black History Month Talent Showcase Blow Out" at Douglass High School. The event was sponsored by the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department in its second year as part of Columbia's Black History Month celebration.
The small gymnasium featured local talent of various ages that sang, rapped, danced and drummed the audience into a frenzy. The performers had people clapping and cheering throughout the nearly two-hour show.
One heavily cheered act was 18-year-old singer Marcus Cleveland, also known by his stage name, Bushido Brown. The Douglass High student crooned out Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come."
"I chose this song because it's Black History Month, and it's a big inspiration for me," Cleveland said.
A trio of sisters lit up the stage with dazzling sparkly tops and an original song titled
"Stutter." The group, called Tadaaw 3, consists of songwriter and singer Latasha Jackson, 26, and singers Whitney Jackson, 24, and Sierra Jackson, 21.
The sisters live in Columbia and have three singles that get airtime on WUNC 88.9 FM, they said.
The talent show was coordinated with the Community Recreation program for Black History Month, said Bill Thompson, recreation specialist for the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department.
The show "gets young people involved in showing their talent," Thompson said.
The rest of the show included two other song performances and a dance to Unk’s "2 Step."
The final performance was local talent Nicholas Rodriguez, also known as "Nick Danger." The 21-year-old started with an original poem titled "We are Great" and received an ovation from the audience. He also performed a dance that included a running backflip off the gym wall that drew audible gasps, and sang a rap song.
The talent show brings black people closer together as they share art, love and self expression, Rodriguez said.
"I like performing. It's like living," he said.