Under the charming glow of Christmas lights, the Rat filled with students anxiously waiting for the arrival of their favorite performers. Ushers clad in black ties guided attendees to their seats while soloists practiced vocal runs backstage, and the collective roar of conversation grew louder and louder before coming to a complete halt as the audience became captivated by the night’s music.
This past Thursday marked the date of the 11th annual From Mind to Mic concert, hosted by Asian Caucus and Against the Current. Designed to celebrate Asian presence in the media, the event featured performers Lydia Paek and Jeremy Passion.
To start the show off, co-hosts Against the Current performed a short set. They began with Michael W. Smith’s “Heart of Worship,” with soloist Sehoon Park, MCAS ’18, crooning his way into the hearts of the audience. Elizabeth Kim, LSOE ’16, took over for their next piece, beautifully performing Leona Lewis’ “Footprints in the Sand.” Although they did not have time for a longer set at From Mind to Mic, Against the Current made quite an impression in its short set.
Next on the stage was Korean-American performer Lydia Paek. At 25 years old, Paek has found success with Quest Dance Crew, YG entertainment, and simply by covering songs on her YouTube channel. Her debut single “Emotion” just went live on iTunes on Oct. 26, a milestone that she was celebrating with her performance. Paek was clearly impressed with Asian Caucus’ efforts with the annual concert and the meaning behind their event, saying that she loved seeing “ethnicities, colors, and cultures all come together.”
After this introduction, Paek kicked off her performance with a cover of Adele’s “Hello.” While she fumbled over some of the lyrics, her sheer vocal talent with those that she did remember made up for it in the eyes and ears of the audience. Then after a quick water break, Paek launched into what was arguably the crowd favorite from the night: a cover of Fetty Wap’s “Trap Queen.” She then took an opportunity to show her dancing expertise during an acoustic cover of “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars. Paek closed her set with a cover of fellow YG Entertainment performer Taeyang’s “Eyes, Nose, Lips,” in a fitting celebration of Asian pop music.
To end the show, headliner Jeremy Passion took the stage. With 37 million views on his YouTube channel, Passion has been building a wide fan base since he was a teenager. After learning piano at 4 years old, picking up songwriting at 15, and teaching himself guitar at 16, he dedicated himself to creating “music with a message,” be it faith, love, or friendship. Passion has released a substantial amount of music (especially considering he is self-managed) over the course of his career, including the single “Suddenly,” Pixelated EP, and full-length For More than a Feeling. Passion also revealed at From Mind to Mic that he’s nearly 85 percent finished with his sophomore album, much to the delight of his fans eagerly awaiting the release.
Passion started his set with a pop/R&B medley—Aaliyah’s “Are You that Somebody,” transitioned into Gotye’s “Somebody that I Used to Know,” before Passion started covering “Weak” by SWV. In a tribute to the movie White Chicks, Passion’s next cover was Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles,” which bled into the final leg of the medley, Ne-Yo’s “So Sick.” After his opening song (or five), Passion played one of his new originals “All Smiles.” Written about the beginning “honeymoon period” of a relationship, Passion was all smiles until this point in the set.
Passion soon took a more emotional turn afterward, however, in his dedication of the next song he played. He explained to the crowd that his brother, David, contracted meningitis at six months old and grew up unable to walk, talk, or hear. Yet even with that added challenge in raising a family, Passion’s mother remained the strongest and most capable woman he knew. He wrote and dedicated the song “32” for her, singing, “You support me and believe in me / you’re a superhero to our family.” Hearing the song in a whole new context, there was not a dry eye in the audience as Passion played the song’s last chord.
To lighten things up again after such a sentimental moment, Passion played a cover of “Cater to You” by Destiny’s Child. He then sought the audience’s help in singing his first single, “Suddenly,” teaching the crowd not only the background vocals, but also their harmonies. Before singing his final song, Passion took the audience back to his sophomore year of high school, when his friend brought him a glass of lemonade after they had spent the day outside. In that moment, Passion said, “I realized that sometimes the people we have in our life—our spouse, or boyfriend, girlfriend, best friend—are exactly what we need, just like that glass of lemonade,” he said. While it was bittersweet to watch Passion perform his finale, “Lemonade” sent smiles throughout the crowd.
After Passion’s performance, the floor opened up to a Q&A with both performers. One girl approached the mic nervously to ask Passion if she could have a hug, which he happily agreed to do. Most notable, however, was a question from a student attending the Berklee College of Music, which solicited advice on pursuing music as an Asian-American living in the United States. Both artists responded in the spirit of From Mind to Mic, telling the student that being Asian in pop culture is something to be celebrated and shouldn’t be considered an obstacle. “[Music] should be universal, regardless of race,” Passion said. As far as “making it” in the music industry goes, the two repeatedly stressed the importance of putting music out for the public, building a fanbase, and just being genuine. After the Q&A, fans were able to stay and spend time with the performers in a casual meet and greet. Both Paek and Passion showers fans with hugs and selfies, and even after what must have been exhausting performances, they remained warm, friendly, and authentically kind.
Featured Image by Sarah Hodgens / Heights Staff