Final Profs Spotlight of 2017 ends year on a festive and satisfying note

Kumbah Givens rounds out the night with an electrifying performance of "At Last" by Etta James. -Staff Photo/Jaryd Leady

At last, the final Profs Spotlight for 2017 arrived this past Tuesday. Patrons of Profs Place were treated to student performances of R&B songs, pop hits, ‘70s folk music, Christmas tunes and, as always, free popcorn.

Ashley Hermansen, a freshman Spanish education major, kicked off the evening with a big smile and her rendition of “Santa Baby.” Hermansen continued her Christmas-themed set with performances of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” “Do You Hear What I Hear?” and her personal favorite “Where Are You, Christmas?” She admitted that Christmas is her favorite time of year.

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” Hermansen said. “We go to my grandma’s house every year and she makes Italian food.”

After Hermansen’s set, the hosts from the Chamberlain Student Center & Campus Activities took volunteers from the audience to play their Christmas themed trivia mini-game. The participants competed to be the first to identify a Christmas song. Ellie Leick, a junior writing arts major, swept the competition and won herself a Profs Spotlight t-shirt.

Next up to perform was sophomore psychology major Lily Enos. Though she didn’t play any Christmas tunes, Enos performed two songs she composed herself and one cover. Her first song, “Redo,” which she penned her freshman year at Rowan, was written about changes in her life at that time. Next, she played her song “Listen,” and, with a smile, asked the audience to follow the title’s instruction as she sang.

Enos’ final tune was a cover of the ‘70s folk singer Linda Perhacs’ song “Delicious,” which is her favorite love song of all-time.

“I’ve always had an affinity for ‘60s, ‘70s music,” Enos said. “I grew up around it all my life.”

Enos recounted her discovery of Linda Perhacs’ music on YouTube and wished that the artist was more recognized.

“I remember falling down that rabbit-hole of listening to her on Youtube… I was really moved by her songs and I started playing [them] years ago,” Enos said.

The second mini-game was a gift unwrapping competition. The first person to tear open the ridiculously over-wrapped package got to keep what was inside. The prize was a Profs Spotlight t-shirt. In the end, every participant won a shirt.

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Following the game came a performance from Nate Cochran, a senior management information system major, who sang four cover songs while playing keyboard. First, Cochran sang “Feels Like Tonight” by Daughtry, which he commented was a lot of fun to learn to play. Next, Cochran performed “Wide Awake” by Katy Perry, followed by the first song he ever learned to play, “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton. Cochran ended his set by singing “Waving Through a Window” from one of his favorite musicals, “Dear Evan Hansen.”

“The musical makes me think about my high school years…being socially anxious and not knowing anything,” Cochran said. “Looking back, I can see I’ve overcome a lot of things, but I definitely think anyone can relate to it.”

The last mini-game of the night involved pinning the nose on a paper Rudolph. Mackenzie Fitchett, a sophomore journalism major, managed to attach his nose almost perfectly while blindfolded and won a Prof Spotlight T-shirt for her efforts.

The final performer for the evening was Kumbah Givens, a freshman psychology major. Givens took the Profs Place stage wearing a white bandana over her bright blue braids. Her shyness vanished as soon as she began to sing.

Givens opened with “Like a Star” and “Put Your Records on” by Corinne Bailey Rae and her many friends in the audience offered enthusiastic cheers. Givens closed her performance with “At Last” by Etta James, which saw wild applause from the audience. This brought the evening to the perfect climax as a closer for the Profs Spotlight 2017 series.

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