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Young talent shines on stage at 'open mic' night
By Brittany Greer
Aug 28, 2013 - 9:15:47 AM

This young trumpet player tooted her own horn at Black Tie Music Academy's Open Mic Night.
The Coffeehouse Open Mic Nights give singers and musicians an opportunity to perform.


Beginners and more experienced musicians alike have an opportunity to perform.  Above right, singer-songwriter Claire Conway performs her own music.

Families and friends gathered at Black Tie Music Academy last Friday night to put their talents on center stage.
This was not the first time BTMA owner and head instructor Braeden Kershner opened the doors for the Coffeehouse Open Mic Night, but it was the first time for many of the performers to join in on the fun.
“I was in the studio earlier in the day to get information about classes and we heard about the Coffeehouse. The kids got so excited,” said Nadine Danner, mother of Clara who played a short tune on the piano.
Enthusiasm filled the room while attendees filled their cups with hot chocolate and coffee to prepare for the show. After some girls sipped their hot drinks too soon and yelped in pain, burnt tongues were not about to stop the eager performers.
Solos and duets were sung, drums were banged, and piano keys were stroked. Kershner’s three-year-old daughter even displayed her talents counting from one to ten.
“There is a magic to live performance,” Kershner said. “It’s the imperfections that make it great. Our society is used to seeing things done perfectly onscreen, but the imperfections on stage are what I love. I’m addicted to it.”
Claire Conway, 14-year-old Daniel Island resident, graced the stage with her multi-talented acts including piano, guitar and solo singing. She closed out the evening with a song she wrote herself, called “Distance.”
“I love that these open mic nights are very relaxed and it’s fun to watch everyone else,” Conway said.
She wasn’t feeling 100 percent, but it didn’t stop her from giving it her best effort.
“Being sick makes it hard. You have to sing through those feelings on top of what you’re already doing,” Conway said.
Conway started taking music seriously when she was seven years old with singing lessons. Later, she picked up piano and guitar. These days, she takes classes once per week in all of these areas and aspires to grow her career in music.
“I would really like to be a singer-songwriter, but I know it’s hard work,” Conway said.
Kershner’s goal for the Coffeehouse Open Mic Night boils down to one thing, the opportunity to perform.
“Typical school groups get two performances a year. We want to provide the chance for more stage time,” Kershner said.
Molly Peartree, a 12-year-old Daniel Island resident, can appreciate this.
“I really love to sing and I want to do it more,” Peartree said.
Likewise, Peyton Arnett, nine years old, was gleaming with passion to get back on stage. She was in attendance along with several of her friends to celebrate a birthday. It was only fitting for a group performance of the “Happy Birthday” song.
“I was really excited to be on stage again. Other chorus groups I’m in meet during the school year, so it was fun to perform again, because I’ve missed it this summer, “ Arnett said.
As much as the performers enjoy being on stage themselves, they also value listening to others.
 “Everybody I know has a beautiful voice so I like to hear them too,” Arnett said.  
As seen last Friday, there is no right or wrong when it comes to BTMA’s open mic night. Beginners and more experienced musicians alike have a place on stage.
“If you’re interested in participating, come watch and be an audience member first. See what it’s like, then be ready to jump up on stage and go. There is no order or plan, you just go with the flow,” Kershner said.
Kershner’s experience participating in open mic nights as a high school student played part in the motivation behind BTMA’s own night.
“I used to perform at a seafood restaurant on Rivers Avenue. The performances always seemed to be bands and there wasn’t space for high school kids,” Kershner said.
After putting Coffeehouse nights on pause throughout the summer, Kershner plans to regularly schedule the event on the last Friday of each month for the foreseeable future.

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