Friday night saw an onslaught of raw talent and a kaleidoscope of heartfelt stories about identity, love and passion at Ground Zero Performance Café.
As part of the Asian Pacific American Heritage Festival, the Asian Pacific American Student Assembly organized its own student-based talent show, APASA’s Got Talent. The event featured a wide array of performances from singing to spoken word and free milkshakes for the first 35 audience members.
Aseem Afsah, APASA’s advocacy chair, elaborated upon his hopes for the event.
“We’ve the privilege of being the voice of Asian American students,” Afsah said. “Given the social and political climate and conversation about race in the U.S., we have to use that responsibility wisely to continue to advocate for this platform for conversation.”
A spin-off of the popular reality television Got Talent franchise, the popular annual talent show showcased the artistic abilities of USC’s Asian American student community. The night was filled with electrifying performances from eight contestants, each followed by feedback from Fuzzzy, Priska and David Choi.
One of the performers of the night was Melody Lee, who performed a classical rendition of Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” with a hip-hop twist. Other hidden gems also included Alex Luu, the founder of poetry club Slam SCene, and Izzy Brown, a member of SoCal VoCals. While Luu performed a passionate poem about a bowl of phở to express his Vietnamese identity, Brown chose to sing a cover of Rihanna’s “Love on the Brain.”
Senior Leo Xia’s performance of his original song “Flame” raised eyebrows and received loud applauses from audience members. Xia successfully used his personal experiences of understanding his identity to resonate with the audience.
The singer-songwriter, who recently released his EP album Hyphenated, also spoke about how his songwriting journey began with writing love songs in middle school and blossomed in high school and college when he started learning more about his Asian American identity.
The final contestant winners were revealed at the end of the night. Izzy Brown and Alex Luu were the second and first runner-ups, respectively. The night ended with the announcement of the contest’s winner, Matt Zurik, who carried out a praise-worthy performance with enticing vocals.
Apart from the contestants’ performances, the guest judges’ performances also proved memorable. Most notably, David Choi’s mellifluous performance of “Missing Piece” touched hearts when he invited a couple to slow dance on stage as he dedicated his song to the audience.
Regarding his thoughts on the event, Choi commented on the event as being the perfect platform to showcase and discover.
“Our lives are defined by the stories that we tell,” Choi said. He also noted the importance of telling stories from an honest place.
A night that buzzed until the very last song, APASA’s Got Talent presented different voices and stories that gave life to USC’s Asian American community and created a creative medium for students to express themselves.