When You’re Center Stage

When You’re Center Stage

Center Stage Battle of the Voices 2017


Sunday, October 1st, I sat at the Irving Arts Center waiting for Center Stage to begin. As I sat there I thought about all the fun I had last year at Center Stage Battle of the Voices. I thought about the winner from 2016 John Cross and what I should expect that night. Let’s talk a little bit about Center Stage and what the competition is. Center Stage was started in 2015, originally presented in Dallas, TX, the competition is aimed to create an effective and memorable experience as well as a remarkable platform for thriving artists, singers and those in the fashion industry.  The competition infuses music, fashion, and entertainment for both music and fashion enthusiasts alike. The competition’s Creator and Founder, musician, and producer, Michael Marshall, along with Dallas-based fashion stylist, Executive Director Nikki Hurd, designed this event to jumpstart the careers of deserving artists.

The lights dimmed and we were introduced to the show opener Kirk Thurmond and his soulful acoustic sound. As I sat there I was impressed with Kirk and had to follow him on IG just so I could know when he would be performing again in Dallas so I could show my support. As soon Mr. Thurmond was done, the host Gino LockJohnson came to the stage to greet us and to open the show-up. The judges were introduced and even though Gino started off a little shaky as the host he worked it out until the first performer came on stage. Devin Esha took us beyond with her paying tribute to Tamela Mann with her song Change. Devin took me back to that first moment when I heard Tamela Mann sing this particular song at the live recording. I remembered the power and the anointing that the song had and Devin song it with all that was in her. I remember saying “Oh she’s good and maybe will be a hard act to follow behind.”

After Devin other performers hit the stage, but there was none like Samantha Hunte. Miss Hunte hit the stage with a tune from our hometown sista Miss Erykah Badu. Now listen if you are going to do a Badu hit you have to do it right and Samantha did just that. She sang and she danced to On and On and showed us why she should win Center Stage 2017. As the show went on singers came out and paid tribute to Kelly Clarkson, Tamela Mann again, Erykah Badu again, Tevin Campbell, and the Dixie Chicks. For the most part, everyone did a good job, but by the end of round one, you pretty much knew who the winners were going to be.

My favorite part of the show was when John Cross hit the stage to grace us with a performance and showed us why he won Center Stage 2016. He started off with “That’s what I like” by Bruno Mars, but he added his own style to it to make you fall in love with the song all over again. I sat there screaming the words to the song and rocking back and forth as he was on the stage. John was truly the highlight of my night. King Cyfa also came and performed an original song with the band that he is apart of “The Found” they rocked the stage before the third round and got us ready to find out who was going to be the Center Stage 2017 winner.

It was down to 2 people Devin and Samantha and both of them left it all on the Stage and we didn’t know who would be the winner. At the end, Samantha Hunte ended up being Center Stage 2017 and we all knew why. This year Center Stage was different from the first year. This year I would give it 3 stars out of 5 just because last year the artist pulled you into every song that they sang and actually had you sitting on the edge of your seat. Center Stage 2017 all in all was a fun event and the singers did what they came to do. I look forward to next year to see what the Singers will bring to the stage.

VIAHeather Raquel
SOURCECenterStage Battle of the Voices
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Heather Raquel is the CEO, Founder and Host of The HUSH Lounge (HUSH Lounge Media). When people see Heather, they automatically think of HUSH, but there is more to her than her radio show. Heather is a celebrity lifestyle blogger, author, entertainer, event host and moderator. In 2007, Heather created a non-profit organization called "Giving Life Foundation," where she shared information about children shelters in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. In 2014, she kicked off the first ever "Ties and Tiaras" event at Jonathan’s Children’s Shelter. The event was to show the children that there are people that care for them and want to see them succeed. In 2016, via her radio show, Heather launched a grassroots initiative that re-directed awareness to local politics in Dallas. That same year, she became a member of the Golden Circle, which is an organization of Influential Black Women in Dallas ranging from Politics to Entertainment. This year, Heather launched "Funky Vibez," a Journey into Heather Raquel and became a contributor for the NBG Network. Continue to follow her as she “Walks on Water.”