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The Scarlet & Black

Spencer Grill cooks up tunes at karaoke event, first since pandemic

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Brisa Zielina
DJ Joe Culver of Dining Services was happy to see many students take this event as an opportunity to sing with their friends — in this case, “TiK ToK” by Kesha, sung by Maizie Schaffner `26 and Felix Benardo `25. (Brisa Zielina)

The Spencer Grill hosted a karaoke night, inviting students to enjoy its first formal function since the pandemic. Orchestrated by Joe Culver, associate director of dining services, this occasion aimed both to provide students with a platform to showcase their vocal talents and to bring music to campus dining space — previously the norm in the Dining Hall.

Culver said he decided to DJ the karaoke night on Tuesday, Feb. 6 after recognizing the potential of the Spencer Grill as a space for more student engagement. “We have this awesome space here at the Grill for the students all the time,” Culver shared. “We thought it would be fun to host a karaoke night and see how it goes.”

With the assistance of Apple products, participants were able to add a modern twist to song selections, turning any song into karaoke by removing the vocals or submitting choices using cassette-tape-themed note cards.

Both excited and nervous karaoke performers filled out cassette tape-style sheets to sign up to perform. (Brisa Zielina)

Drawing from his live music experience with Fast Dolly, his 1980s cover band, Culver facilitated the setup and organization of the entire event with his personal equipment, emphasizing his joy at sharing music with others. 

“I just love music. It’s my language,” Culver said. “I was very nervous at the beginning, but people came and signed up for songs and I thought it was great.”

Despite a slow start, the karaoke event received positive feedback from students, with many expressing interest following initial hesitation.

“This isn’t generally my type of thing,” said Istar Abdullahi `25, who spontaneously decided to perform CeeLo’s “Fuck You” early into the night. “I usually do karaoke with my friends by ourselves, but I do enjoy this kind of stuff, to watch people singing with friends and seeing them performing.” 

“I feel like I would love to see more karaoke nights just wherever they may be,” Jadyn Al-Fatah `27 added.

Maren Ronald `24 and Maddy Thompson `24 attended high school together and channeled that nostalgia into a duet of “Start of Something New” from “High School Musical,” having been nervous to perform the song as a first year then.

“I put it in my calendar, and we were like, ‘We have to do it,’” Ronald said. “It’s a full circle moment in our last semester, so we wanted to come and do the same song.”

“I feel like, since our first year was online, we didn’t get to do all the cute stuff they have for the people to get involved,” Thompson added. “We’ve been having fun reclaiming our school spirit.”

As the event progressed, passing students joined a quickly growing audience. From Billie Eilish’s “What Was I Made For?”  featured in the movie “Barbie” to “Love is an Open Door” from “Frozen,” performers continued to diversify the atmosphere while managing their nerves with creative selections.

“[Karaoke] has always been a weak spot of mine,” Max Worth `24 said after his soulful rendition of Hozier’s “Take Me to Church.” “I was shaking the whole time. I enjoy it, but there’s some primal fear.”

Max Worth `24 gives a soulful rendition of “Take Me to Church” by Hozier. (Brisa Zielina)

Culver expressed a desire to establish a monthly Karaoke tradition, providing students with a regular outlet for musical expression. He welcomed students interested in co-hosting future events, suggesting they reach out to him at [culverjo].

“Singing songs in front of your friends is difficult. It’s nice to hear so many great voices and people having such a fun time,” Culver said.

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About the Contributors
Marcy Cassidy Mapp, Features Editor
Marcy Cassidy-Mapp is a fourth-year psychology major with a concentration in education studies. Originally from Jackson, Mississippi, she enjoys complaining about fictional creatures. Marcy's favorite place is the Smithsonian postal museum.
Brisa Zielina, Staff Photographer
Brisa Zielina is a first year and an aspiring Theater major with a concentration in American Studies from Los Angeles, California. She loves singing and acting and uses the word “slay” way too often. When she’s not slaying the day, she’s probably in rehearsal or studying on the third floor of the HSSC. If you see her around campus, say howdy, she’s always happy to make new friends!
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