The Lehigh Valley Music Awards celebrates its 20th year with optimism that the county will become the next Nashville

Musicians and workers in the music industry from all across the county gathered last Sunday to celebrate the Lehigh Valley Music Awards 20th year of operation. With over 50 categories, including 27 in which fans vote for a winner, this awards ceremony recognizes the musical talents that bring joy to our community every day. Among those nominated were several of Charter Arts own students, whom I had the privilege of interviewing before the event began.

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Me and the beautiful Tracy Yatsko, who was the host of the evening. ( © 2019 Mercedes Lobb )

To start off the evening, Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts alum, Jillian Rossi, sung a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem. Her unique take on the song helped to create a sense of unity across the audience and made me feel even prouder to be an American.
Next, we were introduced to the host of the ceremony, PBS39 news reporter Tracy Yatsko. As the host of her talk show “Your Take,” Yatsko has taken on the challenge, along with five university students from across the Lehigh Valley, to tackle relevant topics within our society such as social media, immigration, mental health, and millennials. During high school, Tracy suffered from a concussion that ended her athletic career, which has since inspired her to become a brain injury awareness advocate and public speaker. I had the opportunity to speak with Yatsko for a little bit during the event, and her optimistic attitude and passion for what she does left me inspired. She was a pleasure to talk with and did an excellent job hosting the awards show this year.

The mood of the awards show shifted slightly towards the middle of the night when the Pediatric Cancer Foundation of the Lehigh Valley showed a video on Wyatt Newhard’s life. Wyatt, who was well known throughout the local music community as being a charismatic warrior, lost his battle to neuroblastoma cancer at age fourteen, November of last year.

To honor Wyatt for being a symbol of hope and inspiration, the Lehigh Valley Music Awards presented a plaque in his name to the foundation. A raffle was also held that gave one lucky audience member the chance to win a Martin & Co Guitar; the raffle ticket proceeds were donated to the foundation to further help the families of children that have cancer. These moments were bittersweet for the entire audience because our community lost someone that was dear to our hearts, however, even though Wyatt is no longer here, his legacy is continuing to help kids with pediatric cancer all around the Lehigh Valley.

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Julia Sommers, Jay-T Lord, Mercedes Lobb, & Jordyn Albanese (© 2019 Mercedes Lobb )

There were several performances throughout the night that covered all genres of music. Whether it be Jake Kaligis and Julia Sommers acoustic performance of her hit single “Sundial” off of her first EP “Roots,” or Roi and the Secret People’s rock set, nobody left the awards upset about the entertainment. The lineup was cohesive and kept the audience entertained throughout the entire evening.

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Jay-T Lord & Mercedes Lobb ( © 2019 Mercedes Lobb )

Four current students at Charter Arts were nominated for a Lehigh Valley Music Award, one of them being Jay-T Lord, a sophomore instrumental major. Growing up, his great grandfather served as inspiration for him when he first began showing interest in becoming a musician. “He would always say that I had a bright future,” Jay-T stated in our interview. It would appear that his grandfather was correct, for here he was years later being nominated for 2 Lehigh Valley Music Awards; Teen Performer of 2019 and 2019 Discovered Artist Award.

When asked about how he felt about these nominations he stated, “it warms my heart to see that people are finally opening up and seeing what’s happening in regards to my music.” Back in August 2018, Lord had released a single titled, “Absolutely Nothing” which has had success on all music platforms. This, along with his other accomplishments such as being an opener for several shows at One Centre Square and being the only Lehigh Native nominated for the Discovery award foreshadows how successful he’s going to be in the future; I’m happy to call him my friend, and one of my inspirations.

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Julie Williams, Mercedes Lobb, and Jordyn Kenzie © 2019 Mercedes Lobb

Another Charter Arts student that I had the privilege of interviewing was my friend Payton Renee, a junior vocal major. Her music career officially began a few years ago when she started performing at open mic nights throughout the Lehigh Valley. These shows allowed Payton to connect not only with the fans but with the members of the music community also. This outreach has made her well-known across the county, which helped her to get nominated under the “Teen Performer” category.

When asked what makes being a musician in the Lehigh Valley so special she replied, “being a singer/musician in the Lehigh Valley is special to me because of the community. I’m so grateful to be surrounded by people who are so supportive and passionate about music as I am.” Although she didn’t end up winning the award for the category, Payton feels like all of her work was recognized, and to her, that was the most amazing feeling ever.

“I felt like my music was heard and people wanted to listen, which was a great feeling,” she said. Continuing forward, Payton revealed that she’s currently working on her own music which will be released soon. Her goals? To play bigger shows in her near future. “My advice to anyone who wants to take their shot in the music industry is doing it. Go out and find other artists and venues. Put yourself out and there and don’t hesitate, ” she said.

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Mercedes Lobb (Me!) & Jordyn Kenzie // ©2019 Mercedes Lobb

Apart from Jay-T and Payton, Julie Williams and Grace Rosario were also nominated for a Lehigh Valley Music Award last weekend. Grace, a senior instrumental major, was one of the four recipients of a scholarship given by the Lehigh Valley Music Association, an award that she deserved for all of the hard work she has done in the music community, as well as at Charter Arts. The biggest winner of the night, though, was Jordyn Kenzie, a senior vocal major. Her freshman album “Jordyn Kenzie” offers listeners a new take on country-pop, along with endless inspiring messages.

After winning the award for “Outstanding Female Artist” Jordyn stated in her speech, “I do have to say that this one is cool because there are a lot of powerful females right now, not only in the Lehigh Valley Music, but in general. I believe John Moser said in his article that it has truly been the year of the female. So, to be a part of that is incredible. This goes to all of the females in the Lehigh Valley who are killing it in music right now. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of that.”

Jordyn’s uplifting spirit and her ability to connect with her fans on a personal level have helped her to become popular around the county, and I cannot wait to see what she does next!

My experience at the Lehigh Valley Music Awards was like nothing I had ever known before. The purpose of this event is to bring the community together to celebrate the one thing we all love; music, as well as acknowledge the hard work of all of our artists. I left the event feeling inspired, and to me, that means it was a successful night. I cannot wait until next year!

A Weekend of Poetry, Art, and Music

This last weekend at Charter Arts was not just the beginning of a new month, but also two night’s worth of art in many different forms. On Friday night, writing club hosted their second poetry reading of the year which coincided with the First Friday showing in the art gallery. Around 15 poets, including literary arts teacher Mr. Walsh, read their original pieces as visitors strolled between visual art and spoken word.

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Senior literary arts major Michael Scuotto has been involved in writing club for all four years of high school, and has been president since his junior year. Because of him, the annual poetry readings run smoothly and are a great way for students of all majors to read their original pieces to an audience. This was Michael’s last time hosting a poetry reading for writing club, and we thank him and bid him a farewell for his time dedicated to these readings!

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On Saturday night, Charter Art’s Youth for Christ club hosted its annual Haiti Benefit Concert. The event consists of acts of all kinds- singing, dance, music, and more- and yummy snacks to help raise money for the Haiti Health Trust

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Over a thousand dollars was raised, which will all go towards helping hospitals in Haiti grow to support their citizens- and Charter Arts is glad to be a part of that.IMG_4583

The Comeback of the Century

It’s 2009. The Jonas Brothers are blasting from your iPod touch on your way to soccer practice, and everything is okay. Well, ten years later, in 2019, you might be able to experience this wonderful feeling of bliss once again. That’s right. It’s time to pull out all your old merch because The Jonas Brothers are back!

On February 28th, the Jonas Brothers posted on Instagram saying that they would release a new single at midnight. After their multi-year hiatus, fans were in shock over the boys getting back together and already releasing a new song with no warning. Just like they said, their new song “Sucker” was released at midnight on March 1st. The music video (linked here for your enjoyment: https://youtu.be/CnAmeh0-E-U) was shot in England with the help of the rest of the Jonas family. Since its release, the song has topped charts and became number two on Spotify’s new music of the week playlist.

Shot from The ‘Sucker’ Music Video

The brother trio also plans to take over The Late Late show with James Corden and are calling it Late Late Jonas. Late Late Jonas will air every week night this week, starting tonight at 11:37 PM on CBS. Don’t miss out on the comeback of the century. The only thing we can hope for now is a Big Time Rush reunion.

The Answers to This Week’s Conundrum

Question:

How do I know what my sexuality is?? I’m confused.

Answer:

Congrats, you have asked one of the most loaded questions in the history of humankind. Round of applause to you for keeping this interesting. I am LGBTQ+, and so from experience, I can honestly say that the answer is trial and error. It takes some intensive soul searching, but really, sexuality is a spectrum, and remember that it is 100% ok for you to just go with the flow and not specifically define your sexuality (or gender for that matter.) However, labels can be helpful and comforting, so if you do want to find yourself some labels that fit you comfortably, try googling a list of sexualities and seeing if you vibe with any of the definitions. Or just ask yourself some questions, like; Who am I attracted to? Would I mind dating somebody with an untraditional gender identity? Could I see myself in a relationship with XYZ? Finding answers to these and similar questions can really help you to whittle down the list. If you’re still unsure, sometimes it helps to distract yourself and clear your head. I figured out my sexuality when one of my friends was leading a guided meditation (arts school, am I right) and doing something similar that really slows down and focuses your thought process can be incredibly helpful when dealing with the minefield that is sexuality. Also, don’t be afraid if your labels change around, it doesn’t mean that you are invalid or a faker or anything like that. When I first came out, my labels were very specific, and over the past few years, they have changed and broadened quite a bit. I genuinely hope that this helped you out, and if not, I’m sure that there will be much more sexuality/gender-related things in the future (especially if I run out of questions to answer which is actually an issue at the moment yikes.)

-Professor Anxiety

To get more of this incredibly high-quality, not at all rambly advice, send me an email at theperformer@charterarts.org.

Freshmen Literary Artist’s share their poetry at Godfrey Daniels Showcase

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It seems like only yesterday that I went up on the Godfrey Daniel’s stage and recited my poetry in front of a large audience for the first time. I was a freshman, and just like many of my other classmates, I was still getting comfortable with sharing my work with others. To say that we were a bit nervous would be an understatement; I’d say we were terrified. For a lot of us, poetry wasn’t really a type of writing we had explored before, and Godfrey would be the first place where we would attempt to show that we could, in fact, write it. But, all of those worries washed away as we went up on stage one by one, realizing that there wasn’t anything to be afraid of. If you were to ask any of my peers about that night, they would say that’s the night that brought all of us together. We laughed, we cried, but most of all, we leaned on each other for support, and that brought us all closer. I can say that without a doubt, Godfrey has had the same effect on our current freshmen Literary Artists.

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From the moment they stepped on to the stage, to being told that they would, in fact, be going through the second round of sharing, the freshman showed no signs of feeling nervous. Instead, they possessed confidence, which is something I as a sophomore even admire. The pieces that they shared showed how far they have come since August; each containing vivid imagery, thought-out metaphors, and beautiful messages. Towards the end of the night, the Literary Arts Department director Mr. Walsh opened the floor up for discussion and allowed the freshman to talk about what they’ve learned so far this school year. Many of the students expressed how they’ve learned how to lean on one another for support, as well as how the program has helped them grow as people, and as artists. Their words were inspiring, and the bond that they have formed warms my heart. This shows that art, as well as this major can, in fact, bring people together. It was an honor to see how far these individuals have come, and I cannot wait to see what is yet to come for them.

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Advice to Attempt to Warm You Up

Question:

How do you get over a break up when you see the person every day at school?

-January 4

Answer:

Unless you had a strangely amicable breakup, I’m sorry to say that there really isn’t an easy way to cope. Breakups are tough, and the general self-care rules still apply; chocolate, Netflix, and a support group of friends. Of course, over time things will get better, and I’m sure that it will happen sooner than you think. In the meantime, don’t be afraid to tell your ex to give you some space, or even try to talk things out more- but don’t do anything that makes you uncomfortable.

Hang in there!

-Professor Anxiety

Question:

How do I tell someone I like them without making it obvious but also while making it obvious? I have a fear of rejection, but a crush on a clueless person.

-January 8

Well, I can tell you this, I was in the exact same situation you are in now at the beginning of the year! Unfortunately, I can’t help you unlock the secrets of telepathy; there really isn’t a way to nudge a clueless person in the desired direction. Rejection is scary, I think it is one of the most common fears, but you need to weigh the pros and the cons here; Is staying safe from getting rejected really worth prolonging the angsty, tear-out-your-hair mess that is having a crush on somebody? And even if you do get rejected, the relief that will come from putting your feelings out into the open will make you glad you put yourself out there. And if things do work out for you crazy kids, hey! Relationship! Way to go!

If you do decide to let the person know how you feel, you can help ease the rejection anxiety by telling them in a way you feel comfortable with. Don’t judge yourself if you can’t tell them face to face, people are scary and so are emotions! Seriously though, I told the person I like through a DM because that was the only way I could work up the nerve to do it. So really, it’s scary and awkward, but life is about taking risks and putting yourself out there! I hope I’ve convinced you to at least consider letting your crush know.

Good luck! I’m rooting for you!

-Professor Anxiety

I gave it my best go, I sincerely hope that I help the askers, as well as anybody else who can relate to these issues! If you want to ask me a question, please email ThePerformer@Charterarts.org. I look forward to helping you out!

The Performer Advice Column is Back With a Vengeance

Hi everybody!

I’m Professor Anxiety, and I’m going to be starting The Performer advice column back up! Every Friday, I’ll be answering a couple questions submitted by you right here on The Performer. Hit me up for advice on all types of things- whether it’s about school, relationships, an existential crisis ….or anything else you care to toss my way, I’ll be here to help you out.

Of course, now you’re probably wondering, “But how am I supposed to ask you questions in the first place? Good question. You can email me at theperformer@charterarts.org. To the people who have already contacted me through other platforms, I am working on your advice right now; hang in there until next Friday!

Judgment-free, quality advice. What are you waiting for?

Top 5 Places to Buy Formal Wear for Winter Ball

Hello, everyone! As many of you might already know, Charter Arts will be hosting the Winter Ball on Saturday, February 2nd, which believe it or not, is only one week away. Since many of you will be attending the dance, I thought it would be beneficial if I wrote an article talking about where you can get formal wear that’s decently priced. So, if you’re struggling to come up with a cohesive outfit that isn’t too expensive, I’m here to help you! Here are the top five places that I’ve researched that sell formal wear for less.

1). Charlotte Russe

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Ladies, if you’re looking to buy a dress that snugs your figure and has a touch of elegance, Charlotte Russe is the place to look! They have over 100+ options when it comes to formal wear, so you’re bound to find a dress that compliments your style! Plus, they’re currently having a sale on all of their dresses, the prices ranging from $15-30. Besides formal wear, Charlotte Russe also has a wide selection of shoes for you to choose from. Whether it be dressy shoes, booties, or flats, you are guaranteed to get them for a good deal. The prices of the shoes range from $20-25. Accessories such as necklaces, purses, and earrings are also sold here at a reasonable price. Overall, you shouldn’t spend more than $60 on your entire outfit!

Photo Source: https://www.charlotterusse.com/strapless-asymmetrical-bodycon-dress-302646220.html?dwvar_302646220_size=205&dwvar_302646220_color=001&cgid=formal-dresses#start=1

Information Source: http://www.charlotterusse.com

2). Windsor

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Although their prom dresses are a bit pricey, Windsor has a great selection of formal dresses that are sold at a reasonable price. Prices for semi-formal dresses start at $15 and can go up to $60+, but the majority of them are in the $20-40 price range. Most of their shoes also range between $20-40. A lot of accessories are sold as well, which will help you to give a little pop to your outfit!

Photo Source: https://www.windsorstore.com/product/Lavish-In-Lace-Skater-Dress-051018383

Information Source: http://www.windsor.com

3). Target

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One of the best things about Target is that they have a lot of different styles of clothing for you to choose from for a great price. So, gentlemen, if you’re looking for a store that sells formal wear at a low price, Target is the place to go! Suits cost no more than $80, which is significantly lower than if you were to buy a suit from other shops, which charge their customers hundreds of dollars to rent them. Dress pants, shoes, and ties can also be found at Target. Overall, you shouldn’t spend more than $100-150 on your entire outfit if you were to buy from Target, versus spending $200-300 to rent a suit at another shop. Another bonus is that you’ll be able to keep these items that you buy for way less!

Picture Source: https://www.target.com/p/haggar-h26-slim-fit-premium-stretch-suit-jacket-charcoal-heather/-/A-53957953?preselect=53557157#lnk=sametab

Information Source: target.com

4).

Pure Passion Black Lace Bodycon Midi Dress

Alright, Ladies, if you’re someone who is willing to spend a bit more cash, buying a dress at Lulu’s Fashion would be the perfect option! Their formal dresses come in a variety of styles, colors, sizes, and range from $24-300. Most of their formal wear, however, is under $100. As for shoes, the majority of them cost between $25-50. Lulu’s prices might seem a little bit daunting, but if you’re up to spending a bit more on your formal wear, they will not disappoint!

Picture Source: https://www.lulus.com/products/pure-passion-black-lace-bodycon-midi-dress/588602.html

Information Source: https://www.lulus.com/

5). Amazon

WULFUL Men's Suit Slim Fit 3 Piece Suit Blazer Two Button Tuxedo Business Wedding Party Jackets Vest&Trousers

Last, but finally not least, one of the best websites to find affordable formal wear is on Amazon. They offer a wide selection of dress shirts, ties, suits, and dress pants for men, as well as a large assortment of formal wear for girls. Prices range anywhere between $10 to $100+ which means that you’re bound to find something that you will like! Plus, if you have Amazon Prime, your shipment will come even faster, so I encourage you guys to check it out!

Picture Source: https://www.amazon.com/WULFUL-Business-Wedding-Jackets-Trousers/dp/B0792QPB8X/ref=lp_1045686_1_25?s=apparel&ie=UTF8&qid=1548281483&sr=1-25&nodeID=1045686&psd=1

Information Source: http://www.amazon.com

. . . . .

Whether you want to rock a midi-dress or a tuxedo, these five stores are bound to help you to find affordable formal wear. Winter Ball is an event where you can break out of your comfort zone and wear clothes that make you feel amazing. I hope that this article is successful in helping you guys out during this journey. Have a great time at Winter Ball!

Zimbabwe Riots and Reaction

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There are protests happening in Zimbabwe, mainly in Harare. People are angry because the price of living has nearly doubled in the past week. The rising price in fuel was intended to tackle shortages but have made Zimbabwe’s fuel currently the most expensive in the world. People are finding themselves unable to afford food or bus fare because the entire economy has been struck by this. Ellen Ngwenia, a pre-school teacher in Epworth said, “I’m not afraid to protest, because we are hungry.” The government has started using troops to quell everyone, but the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) has some concerns. Evidence suggests that at least 12 people have been killed and a plethora more injured due to gunshot and ammunition use. More than 600 people, including Pastor Evan Mawarire (an activist against authoritarianism since 2016), have been arrested in relation to these events.

President Mnangagwa has been attempting to do some good. He cut a foreign trip short to return to Zimbabwe and stated, “violence or misconduct by our security forces is unacceptable and a betrayal of the new Zimbabwe.” He canceled going to the World Economic Forum in order to deal with the situation. He called for a “national dialogue.” involving churches, civil society, and opposition, saying “Misconduct will be investigated. If required, heads will roll.”
ZHRC claim security forces are removing people from homes, beating, and detaining them. They’re even suggesting systematic or organized torture, though these charges have been denied by the police and the army. A government spokesman is quoted as reporting, “When things get out of hand, a bit of firmness is needed.” Soldiers in Harare were seen beating a large group of minibus drivers on Tuesday.
Jacob Mafume, a spokesman for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, said there was an urgent need for dialogue. He said: ”The arrest of labour leaders and opposition members is a familiar script in Africa. We have called for dialogue until our voices have gone hoarse but have been ignored.” Unfortunately, the Movement for Democratic Change doesn’t seem to trust President Mnangagwa.
The people of Zimbabwe are waiting for their government to listen to their pleas. Apex Council, which represents all civil service unions, will meet within the next two weeks to attempt to restore the peace.

https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1076138/emmerson-mnangagwa-zimbabwe-protest-military-dead

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-46968142

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The Egg That’s Breaking The Internet

History has been made! A simple picture of an egg has broken the record for most likes on an Instagram post. The record was previously held by Kylie Jenner where she shared the first photo of her newborn baby, Stormi. The photo of her daughter’s tiny hand wrapped around her thumb was posted on February 6, 2018. Since then it has gathered a total of 18.4 million likes on Instagram, making it the most liked photo of all time. That is, until yesterday.

Kylie Jenner’s Instagram photo from February 6, 2018

On January 4, 2019, a photo of a simple brown egg was posted with the caption “Let’s set a world record together and get the most liked post on Instagram. Beating the current world record held by Kylie Jenner (18 million)! We got this🙌” People around the world shared the post of the egg on their stories, encouraging all their followers to like the egg as well. Yesterday, at 7:55 pm the egg hit 18.2 million likes. It had been done. The internet had prevailed. Kylie Jenner was dethroned. Since then, only a day later the egg has collected over 36 million likes and counting. It doubled its likes in a less than a day. Who knows how far the egg will go now?

The World Record Egg