It was 6:40 p.m. I was late. I rushed into the green room, hobbling on extra-high heels. My bags were stuffed with unnecessary equipment, as I had diligently over-prepared for what was to be my first and last Café Samo. I rushed onto the stage to practice Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA” with members of Valhalla, the talented female a capella ensemble. After the 15 of us finished practicing our song, I scurried to practice my solo number with senior Jason Pitts accompanying on guitar. We got in a good run before the show.
Then I noticed seniors Becky Redman and Nicole Andrews, the student organizers of the event, anxiously putting the final touches on cardboard strings of sparkly letters spelling out “Café Samo” and making sure each café table was in place. They hushed us backstage as our excitement turned into a loud conversation of music gossip. Originally, performers were supposed to sit around little tables in front of the stage giving the Humanities Center a coffeehouse feel, as the audience sat in traditional risers behind them. However, minutes before show time came around, the tables were quickly removed and more chairs were added since the performance was past sold out. Instead, we watched the show on a TV monitor or peeked through the curtain on stage right to see the live performance.
Senior Gola Rakhshani opened with “Taylor the Latte Boy,” a clever song about falling in love with a Starbucks barista. Next up was Valhalla. As I climbed up onto the stage in my wobbly heels in the dark, I had no idea what to expect. But when the lights hit us, we glowed.
The moment we sang the first chord, we were completely in the zone. A row of heads bobbing, long hair swaying, skinny jeans swiveling and chic high heels tapping, our sound was as unified as our look. But at the same time, we all were enjoying it individually, each one of us lifted up by the force of the group. It was an insane amount of energy, and we were all on the same page—same note!
The following day I performed my solo. Friends who aren’t performers always ask how I get over stage fright, how I’m able to sing in front of an audience. It’s hard to explain, but somehow the fear disappears as soon as I step onto the stage. Jason started picking and strumming and I started singing “Heartbreaker,” and when I looked out into the audience I realized, as usual, that the people sitting there were rooting for me. They wanted the performers to soar.
So much at Samo is a competition, but Café Samo was different. It was about making music.