Once I laid eyes on Russell Cummings, I was greeted by an enthusiastic mouthful of pearly whites, an openness that made his interview more conversational than work and a passion for my love, words. With that said, there have been a handful of open mics on campus, but much of the student body has been unaware. So, I chatted with one of the ever-friendly hosts for the real on the show, the man and the Movement.
Imani Jackson – What’s your government name?
Russell Cummings – Russell Cummings. (Let me note the extremely articulate voice employed to state his name. Let’s keep it all the way official!)
I.J. – What’s your classification?
R.C. – Fifth-year senior. I’ve been here a long time.
I.J. – What’s your major?
R.C. – I’m a double major, marketing and management. I want to be a manager or a producer…there are so many options.
I.J. – What’s the name of the group who hosts the open mic?
R.C. – [We are] the Movement S.S.O. S.S.O. stands for the Social Service Organization. It’s in coordination with the Black Hand Side Cast.
I.J. – For those who’ve never been, describe an open mic.
R.C. – I like to tell people, the mic is open. It’s an opportunity for students to share [their] talents with their peers…I like when people get up and dance the most…[We appreciate] any talent. You can come in and pop and lock. Any artistic expression. It’s a place where you can share that.
I.J. – How often are they? Where are they located?
R.C. – As of right now, [open mics are] every other Thursday in the Engineering Building (T.L. James), until we can get a more consistent venue.
I.J. – Are any costs involved?
R.C. – No costs. We get the building through our organization. It’s for the love of whatever art form.
I.J. – How do Grambling’s open mics compare to other open mics that you’ve been to?
R.C. – I haven’t been to too many open mics. [Open mics] used to be dimly lit with red paper over the lights. [People were afraid if] their piece wasn’t about love. Don’t let a red light scare you away from being who you are. [There was] a band. We’re working on that. I want people to come [to our open mics] and spit about whatever. [It can be] hurt, love, gangster. [We just want people to be] completely comfortable. We keep enough light. We encourage people to bring their pad, read and talk about whatever.
I.J. – Have you noticed any differences in talent or style with this year’s performers versus years past?
R.C. – I love the freshman class. The other freshman classes weren’t as brave…You spit on the yard, some other females spit, some males spit. Stay hot! [People are] more open, more diverse, more free, a lot more confident. A lot of people say that they’re nervous and still do it. They don’t sit down. There’s a lot more love. The audience screams. People just want to be a part.
I.J. – Any final comments or quotes?
R.C. – Let me tell you more about the Movement. Our motto is Total Growth and Development… Gram is going through a wonderful physical makeover. We’re trying to match the physical makeover with a mental makeover. The dorms are nice. They made it look like a real college. Now we have to act like a real college. Stop littering. [We have to] make more of a college atmosphere. The open mic is not our only event. We’re about entertainment and about growth.
So, if you’re ever roaming campus freely on a Thursday night, check T. L. James to see if there’s an open mic. They have been operating on C.P. time, but they start at seven. We have to support each other. So, check them out. The mics sound nice. Check one.