Mar 24, 2009

Campus Artist Series

by Tiffany Edwards

Soulful sounds, spoken-word poetry and discounted refreshments sweetened the deal as Friday night’s Campus Artist Series marked the third student showcase of the semester.

This month’s Campus Artist Series featured three musicians performing R&B, soul and hip-hop, as well as two spoken word artists. Spoken word poetry, while popular at open mic nights, has never been showcased at a Campus Artist Series before.

The Tilley Center held a full house with the majority of the room’s attention focused on the brightly-lit stage, where Dorrell Edwards, also known as Young Rell, was the first act.

Edwards performed a soulful blend of R&B and hip-hop, bouncing back and forth between singing and rapping. Meanwhile, the crowd soaked it up, crowding the front of the stage as Edwards performed.

“I am a rapper and a singer, and my ministry is both sides of the music, which means that I have an R&B flavor, mixed with soul, hip-hop, pop and gospel. I really don’t have one specific genre,” Edwards said.

Edwards has been singing his entire life, but integrated rapping with singing later in his career. He has performed in various talent competitions and worked with a number of record labels since he was young.

Next up on the stage was James Treadwell, dressed to the nines in dress slacks and a vest and tie. Treadwell wowed the crowd with a pop and R&B blend, and even a bit of reggae, which was well suited to his strong singing voice.

“I was a late bloomer. I didn’t really sing until I took a music class when I was 13, and then it was just like, ‘Oh, I guess I can sing,’” Treadwell said. “When I signed up for the Campus Artist Series, I decided I would have fun with it, and I wanted people to hear that Christian music can be pop, R&B, reggae and so many other varieties.”

The last musical performance of the night was James “Mr. J” Hobson, who rapped while accompanied by a worship team and a dance team.

“I’m blessed not only with the opportunity to make worship music, but (also to create) Christian hip-hop that people can jam to while they listen in their car, or if they just don’t want to listen to (traditional) gospel music. People can dance and get hyped to this while praising God,” Hobson said. “Everything I do is strictly for the Lord, primarily this Christian hip-hop ministry. This is what I’ll be doing full-time. This is what I’m pursuing (at Liberty). Even though I’m here getting a communications degree, when I leave Liberty, I plan on being a Christian recording artist.”

Music was not the only highlight of the evening, as two spoken word poets, Nicholas George and Brittney Shelton, performed twice, after the first and second acts. While the two have performed both individually and together many times at open mic nights, they are the first slam poets to be showcased at a Campus Artist Series.

Shelton has been writing poetry since the age of 15, and George has been writing since elementary school. They have been writing poetry together for two years. Student Activities had contacted George and Shelton to ask if they would be interested in performing in March’s Campus Artist Series.

“I used to perform at the open mics when they would have them, and then when Brittney started coming here, and we began writing and performing together. Student Activities got used to seeing us, and they wanted to give us an opportunity to reach a wider audience,” George said.

“When we write poetry, we try to focus on truth. As college students, we are taught a lot of messed up stuff by the world. Ultimately, we want to bring God’s glory through it all, and portray his truth,” Shelton said.
Friday’s Campus Artist Series encouraged students to sing along with the musicians and recite some of the pop lyrics that George and Shelton used in their poetry. Many students did participate in the group singing effort.

“Who knows, if we get a bunch of slam poets asking for a chance, then it’s a great possibility. I would enjoy seeing a larger poet-artist interest on campus,” Associate Director of Student Activities Alese Chandler said. “Each year, Campus Artist Series has developed into something greater, and it’s truly from the students that want to be involved. Student Activities provides an avenue to the stage. It’s up to the student to make it theirs.”

Contact Tiffany Edwards at


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