Voicing the voiceless

Student group Voices Merging takes their open mic series to Northrop Plaza.

Mark Brenden


A Splash of Summer Open Mic

Who: Voices Merging

Where: Northrop Plaza, 84 Church St. SE

When: Fri. July 29, 7-9 p.m.

Cost: Free

As part of its summer concert series, Northrop welcomes student group Voices Merging to stage their open mic event outdoors Friday on the Northrop Plaza.

Typically held during the school year, VM hosts Open Mic Mondays at Moos Tower, allowing anyone and everyone five minutes to perform their art âÄî be it good, bad or ugly. Prosective artists, comedians, musicians, dancers can sign up 30 minutes before the show to get on the bill. For the Northrop event, the sign-up times are from 6:30-6:50.

The concept of Voices Merging is noble: providing a voice to artists of all creeds and skill sets. But with such wide open doors, the riff raff is bound to sneak in. Not only do the untalented sometimes get a soapbox, but so can the crude and uncouth.

âÄúWeâÄôve seen some comedians that have come up there and said things that werenâÄôt that … wonderful,âÄù VM Vice President Tierra Howard said, in the tamest way possible.

The organizers at Northrop are not worried about vulgarity running amok about the plaza. Cari Hatcher, NorthropâÄôs Marketing Director and an organizer for the summer concert series, said that they are only planning for the best.

âÄúI donâÄôt think about it that way. IâÄôm thinking about it more as giving an opportunity [for artists] to express their art form and trying not to focus on potential negatives,âÄù Hatcher said. âÄúWeâÄôre just trying to focus on the positives.âÄù

And when the negatives do present themselves, itâÄôs VMâÄôs job to convert them to positives. Essentially founded on constructive optimism, the student group prides itself on picking up good vibrations, and dishing them out as well.

âÄúSometimes, you may not get as many laughs or as many people cheering, but at the end people are going to spring for you like you are Beyoncé anyway,âÄù VM President Brittany Lynch said.

Keeping in mind that the world âÄî let alone the University of Minnesota campus âÄî only harbors so many Beyoncés, VM plans ahead. In the middle of the come one, come all open mic, the group unveils their aces in the hole. Each event closes with featured artists âÄî proven, paid performers who VM feels will ensure quality.

âÄúThe reason we have featured artists is because we want to show all of you out there that this is the type of artist that weâÄôre looking for,âÄù Lynch said. âÄúWe appreciate everyoneâÄôs art but we always make sure that we have at least one featured artist to raise the bar a little bit.âÄù

FridayâÄôs features include street-hard emcee Mac Milli (not to be confused with Miller) and local artist Champaigne Hale, who will be performing visual art throughout the event.

For the future, VM is kicking around the idea of podcasting their open mics and branching out to more venues. Above all, they simply hope to spread their cause of free and open expression.

âÄúWe definitely want to grow and continue,âÄù Lynch said, âÄúbecause we want to strengthen those community relations and get more artists around the Twin Cities to feel comfortable and know that they can practice their art.âÄù