Open mic showcases local Troy talent and provides performance opportunity

Madina Seytmuradova

Staff Writer

Troy students, locals and traveling artists performed on the Square in downtown Troy at the open mic organized by the city of Troy on Saturday.

According to Leigh Anne Windham, a special projects and community relations coordinator with the city of Troy, the open mic is a recurring event.

“We started it a few years ago,” Windham said. “We just realized that there’s a lot of local talent, and we wanted to give them a platform to perform.”

Each artist had the stage in the downtown gazebo for 15-20 minutes, stretching the event to 3.5 hours of live music.

“This is the first open mic I’ve been to in a long time,” said Shane R. Johns, a songwriter from Atlanta. “Generally I’m on tour, and I like open mic.

“I support open mic because it got me a lot when I started performing — it got me away from stage fright, taught me how to be in front of people.”

Johns performed all original songs, ending with one of his hits “You’re No Mona Lisa,” a song inspired by events from his life.

“I broke up with this girl and she started yelling at me, and I just kind of told her she’s no Mona Lisa,” Johns said. “That’s what I told her, ‘you’re no Mona Lisa,’ and then I wrote it down that night.

“And in Charleston, South Carolina, I went and played a show, and they wanted one more song, and I just started improving it and making it up, and then over the years, I’ve built it up, and now it’s my No. 1 song.”

On the other hand, Russell Hughes, a sophomore history education major from Slocomb, played song covers. He is currently working on his first album.

“I am in the process,” Hughes said. “I’ve only got about five (songs) written, and I want to drop them all on like a Soundcloud or physical album before I let the people hear it.”

The downtown open mic was Hughes’ first performance in front of a big audience.

“It’s like driving the first time,” Hughes said. “You’re nervous right before you get up there, but when you get up there and you get into it, you’re like, OK, it’s just like, it’s like your niche, you know.”

Several students from the surrounding high schools also performed at the event, including Aicey Hawkins and Kat Deal from Charles Henderson and Cathy Stocks from Pike Liberal Arts.

Nola Aycock, a junior interpreter training program major from Eutaw, came out to support the local artists.

“It was a lot of fun to do something in the community,” Aycock said. “I feel like a lot of students don’t actually interact with regular people who live in Troy, but it’s a worthwhile pursuit.”

The night ended after dark when the string lights brightened the Square.

The VinylChord, a Troy student trio, wrapped the night with their original song “Look Twice” and a cover of “Where Rainbows Never Die” by The Steeldrivers.

Members of the trio are Wesley Hill, a sophomore exercise science major from Wetumpka; Mary-Gates Allen, a sophomore graphic design major from Montgomery; and Zach Whitt, a Troy graduate with a sport management degree from Athens.

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