On February 12, in connection with several other events celebrating Black History Month, Caribbean Connections held an open mic night in the Blind Duck Pub. There was no shortage of incredible singers, dancers, and poetry.

The night opened with Haley Mitchell, who wowed the crowd with her incredible voice. Following her was Steven King on the piano and  a trio of freestyling singers who gave a soulful and jazzy sound to an already smooth song.

The energy in the room throughout the evening was unreal. Everyone was welcoming and enthusiastic, and incredibly supportive of one another, knowing that the reason they had all gathered was to celebrate Black History Month. The overwhelming energy added to the whole experience. Even the intermission was spirited and entertaining, and featured a crowd singalong to Bob Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry”.

The acts that took up the majority of the night were the spoken word and poetry performers, who stunned the crowd with their work. First up was a duo named Patricia and Jamal, who did a musical mix to a poem they wrote called “Letter to My Future Wife”. Jamal read the poem and Patricia sang the chorus. The audience began clapping and dancing in appreciation partway through.

Shaulo Paulino was the standout act of the evening. He performed several different spoken poems, and the crowd was rendered speechless by his quick verse. In honour of Black History Month, Paulino’s first poem was an original called “Freedom Awaits”. He recited several other original works littered with insightful lines on the subject. The crowd oohed and aahed during the reading.

Dwayne Morgan, another spoken word artist, performed his original poem “Everyday Males: or, for Short, Emails”, which consisted of nothing but hilarious social media puns relating virus protection on a computer to protection in… well, you know.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly which acts were the best, because the energy of the crowd was huge during all of them. They were all so incredible that just being there put me in a good mood. Never have I attended an event with such energy and a sense of community in the audience. During the breaks between the acts, even members of the crowd were called on to show off their talents.

Black history should be celebrated every day, not just isolated to one month. But these performers and audience members could not have supported the cause better if they tried.