Talented teens and tweens itching to show off in front of a live crowd got the chance to do so at the Syosset Library’s Open Mic Night, an annual event where kids get to perform on-stage before their friends and family members like real-life stars in the making.
Sharon Long, teen services librarian, said that the Open Mic Night’s popularity with local kids has made it an important tradition at the library.
“We’ve been doing this since 2008. It started when the Teen Advisory Board came up with the idea of a talent show initially, and one of our students spearheaded it,” she said. “Since then, we’ve always done one in the winter as well as a karaoke night in the summer…that way, the teens have different opportunities to do performances.”
Open Mic Night makes use of the library’s auditorium, complete with their state-of-the-art lighting and sound system. The event gives local teens the best possible venue to showcase their budding talents, their parents and friends in the audience cheering and clapping them on while doing so.
Long said that the library collaborates with the Syosset school district in order to promote the talent show, concentrating on their music departments. Most of the participants are typically already enrolled in band, chorus or the orchestra, which makes for some impressive showings. However, Long said, anyone is welcome from grades 6-12, regardless of their level of experience.
“Turnout varies…sometimes we’ll get 20 kids or so, and the audience will be double or triple that with family members and friends,” she said. “Tonight we have 12 acts signed up, but some of those acts are comprised of duos or quintets, so the actually number of participants is actually much higher.”
Eleven year-old Sejal Joshi is harboring grand ambitions of being a famous singer and actress. Her solo performance of Franz Schubert’s “Ave Maria” proved that she certainly has the abilities to make her dreams come true.
“I just started taking singing lessons, but I’ve been singing for a long time…since I was five,” she said. “This isn’t my first time performing in front of an audience – we actually had a talent show at my school this afternoon that I sang at—and I want to get into singing and acting when I get older.”
Margo Cohen and her 11 year-old son Hunter are a singing duo who already have a number of public performances under their collective belt. Cohen said that she and Hunter regularly sing duets of 1940’s tunes for residents of senior homes. That evening the two belted out their rousing spin on the classic 1946 Josef Myrow/Mack Gordon piece “You Make Me Feel So Young.”
“I love to sing, and Hunter takes after me, so we like to make people happy,” she said. “Hunter will be doing most of the singing tonight, but I’ll be up there to give him some moral support and provide background vocals.”
Zora Sarwari, age 11, sang “I’m Not The Only One” by British recording artist Sam Smith. She said that she’s always been a big singer, but the opportunity to actually do so on the big stage in front of an audience was a big thrill…albeit a slightly unnerving one.
“I’ve sung in front of people before, but it’s been a while,” she said. “I’m a little nervous, but I’m very excited about getting up there and giving it my all.”
Daphne Soloman, 18, was lead singer for a string quartet, performing a classically-tinged version of the Beatles song “Eleanor Rigby” from their 1966 album Revolver.
“We organized this group with my fellow classmates at Syosset High School for tonight’s performance,” she said. “We’ve practiced a lot and worked hard, and I’m very excited to be performing with these great musicians.”
Yasmin Mesiha, who is 11 years-old, radiated confidence when singing “Speechless” by Lady Gaga, which she said was originally written as a reminder for Gaga’s younger fans to appreciate their parents.
“I’ve sang in front of crowds before…it’s not really a big deal,” she said. “I don’t get nervous…I just warm up a lot and get my head into it. That makes it a lot easier to go out there and sing for people.”
While students are invited to show off any skill they might have, the majority of the events are musical in nature, Long said, but while there’s always a large amount of vocalists, comedians, and poets, she noted that lately they’ve been getting more and more instrumentalists performing as well. Regardless of their gifts, the Syosset Library’s Open Mic Night is a great place to show them off.
“I think it’s wonderful for them to be able to practice and build confidence, performing in front of their peers and family members,” she said. “It’s a low-key event…they’re not being graded, they’re not being judged. Everybody’s respectful, and we get all kinds of performers, each very talented in their own special way.”