Oak Park Summer Concert Series Opens with Spotlight on Student Music

Oak Park Summer Concert Series Opens with Spotlight on Student Music

(Cheryl Weiss, June 28, 2018)

Oak Park, MI- It’s officially summer in Oak Park, now that the Summer Concert Series has begun.  Every Thursday evening through August 2, 2018, music from a variety of local musicians will fill David H. Shepherd Park from 7:00 p.m. until 8:30 p.m.  The concert series is sponsored by UnitedHealthCare.

The season’s first concert, the Student Music Showcase, featured the children and young adults of Oak Park on Thursday, June 21, 2018.  Oak Park City Council Member Regina Weiss said, “This is the kickoff of a series of summer-long concerts.  This week, we are highlighting the students of Oak Park.  They are amazing, talented, and don’t always get time in a spotlight.  It says a lot that they have the first night.”

The concert opened with performers from Star Factory Talent Development, located in Oak Park.  According to CEO Brandon Smith, “We’re a singer’s place.”  He teaches the 5 Phases of Singing and works with singers, dancers, and entertainers from around Metro Detroit.  The first performance was a girl group from Detroit called “3 Keies”.  During their opening number, “Love Is The Answer”, a member of the group called out to the audience, “How many of you think love is the answer to all the hate in the world?”  The energy level went sky high as the audience cheered, danced to the music, applauded enthusiastically, and fully enjoyed the performance.

A young lady, Nadia Jackson, wowed the audience with a powerful performance of Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing.”  She hit the notes, had the attitude, and owned the stage.  A senior man and woman were seated near the middle of the audience.  “Give her a shout out!” he encouraged, nudging the woman next to him.  “Come on, just one cheer,” he persuaded, hands waving in the air as he responded to Jackson’s voice.  His enthusiasm inspired others, and more of the crowd cheered and applauded with him as she sang.

A variety of performances and an array of styles took the stage during the first half of the show, each with their own personal touch in getting the summer concert series off to a fabulous start.  As has always been the tradition, children danced by the front of the stage for a while, then went off to wander around the area.  One little boy brought a bottle of bubbles and blew them around the crowd, as other children raced to pop them, adding a magical touch and a bit of whimsy to the evening as the bubbles floated around the kids, adults, senior citizens, and dogs gathered around the stage.  There was a Kid Zone set up, with a Twister game, hula hoops, and jump ropes, all of which had lots of use.  Hungry Howie’s had pizza and pop available for purchase, and UnitedHealthCare had an informational booth set up as well.  Health E. Hound, the UnitedHealthCare mascot was there to dance, pose for selfies, and entertain kids and adults.

Malea Hayes, age 9, goes to Star Factory but was not one of the performers because she’s just beginning her lessons there.  “I’ll be in it next time,” she declared.  She was at the park with her family and enjoyed the concert because “A lot of different singers all have the opportunity to sing.”

Another high energy performance that was a real crowd pleaser was a performance of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It”.    At the end of Star Factory Talent Development’s lineup, Smith said, “A shout out to Oak Park for providing a platform for them to showcase their talents.  This is much needed all over.”

Kenny Applewhite, of the Oak Park Recreation Department, asked the crowd to move back 5 paces after Star Factory’s performance, because the Oak Park Marching Legion was ready to take the stage.  As the band members waited in a line, the excitement was in the air to hear the hometown marching band.  It took just moments for the crowd to rise to their feet, applauding and taking photos and video as the Marching Legion played, the dancers performed, and the flag twirlers mesmerized the audience.  The pride on each performer’s face was unmistakable.  It was just the first week of summer break, but they were enthusiastic about performing for the crowd. They sounded professional and polished; the Oak Park Marching Legion represents Oak Park High School well.

The KBJ Trio closed out the show with a smooth sound, winding down the evening and sending the crowd home with a relaxed, peaceful feeling.  As they finished their performance, the audience folded their blankets, folded their lawn chairs, and headed to their vehicles.  In the parking lot, a child asked her parents, “Can we come next week, Mommy?”  “Of course!” her mother responded with a grin.  This was just the beginning of a summer filled with music at Shepherd Park.

The 2018 Oak Park summer Concert Series lineup includes the following:

Thursday, June 28, 7:00 p.m. Alise King

Thursday, July 5, 7:00 p.m. Marvin Thompson, Jr.

Thursday, July 12, 7:00 p.m. Mainstreet Soul

Thursday, July 19, 7:00 p.m. Southfield Jazz Orchestra

Thursday, July 26, 7:00 p.m. Paddlebots

Thursday, August 2, 7:00 p.m. Kimme Horne

For more information regarding the Oak Park Summer Concert Series, contact the Oak Park Recreation Department at (248) 691-7555.

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