Around Town: Students Star in Kennedy Center Talent Show

by Catherine Douglas Moran

Students from more than 40 schools across the country performed with acclaimed artists. 

Students from 42 schools across the country performed at the Kennedy Center’s Turnaround Arts Talent Show (Photo by Catherine Douglas Moran).

On Sunday students took to the stage to perform with artists including Taboo, Keb’ Mo’, Trombone Shorty, Valerie June and more at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for the Turnaround Arts Talent Show.

“Every child deserves to have the arts in their lives,” Kennedy Center president Deborah Rutter said.

The Kennedy Center’s Turnaround Arts brings arts education resources into priority and focus schools as a strategic tool for targeting larger school challenges and opportunities, currently active in 73 schools, 38 districts and 17 states and D.C. The program national program works with local and national partners to provide art, music and theater opportunities and arts-based learning to schools. The talent show celebrates students’ engagement with the arts nationwide.

Artists Carla Canales, Paula Fuga. Keb’ Mo’, Lil’ Buck, Larisa Martinez, Jacqueline Suskin, Taboo.

The talent show featured students from Chicago; Hawaii; Broward County, Fla.; Milwaukee; Minnesota; Bridgeport, Conn.; Des Moines, Iowa; New York City; California; North Dakota; New Orleans and D.C. The audience clapped and grooved along to the singing, dancing and musical performances, giving standing ovations after each one.

Highlights included a snazzy brass band from New Orleans, a Mariachi band from California, hula dancing from Hawaii and a “Hamilton”-esque rap and dance story about Frederick Douglass from Milwaukee. Carla Canales, an award-winning mezzo-soprano, sang with students from Broward County, Fla. Taboo from The Black Eyed Peas performed a song and dance with the Sioux students from North Dakota. Students from New York City performed a snappy version of “Friend Like Me” from “Aladdin.”

Local students from Bunker Hill Elementary School, Moten Elementary School, Noyes Elementary School, Savoy Elementary School and Turner Elementary School closed the show with a rendition of “This is Me” from “The Greatest Showman.”

Along with the performances, students’ paintings, photography and poems are on display in the Kennedy Center’s Hall of States through the end of March.

Students prepared backstage for the show (Photo by Catherine Douglas Moran).

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