Musical Talent at UVI

Musical Talent at UVI


ST.CROIX- An unfamiliar face walked into the theater on a Wednesday afternoon. He walked to the back to the only piano, a Baldwin, sat down and played an original song, “Origami,” while students listened in amazement.

The University of the Virgin Islands has musically talented students who might be compared to famous pianists such as Ray Charles, Ludwig van Beethoven and Sun Ra, but they go unnoticed. Students at UVI say there isn’t a strong music program and going off island seems to be the better option.

Jamal Francis playing the Piano
Freshman, Jamal Francis , playing his original piece “Origami”

Jahmal Francis emerges from the circle of students whose musical talent stands out.

Francis is an 18-year-old freshman at UVI. His personality and calm charisma is sculpted by music. He started playing the piano at the age of 12 and at 15 he made a special effort to master his talents. Francis sings and has mastered both the tenor saxophone and the piano, with piano being his favorite. His high school music teacher taught him the basics of playing the piano, however, he learned the rest on his own. He enjoys incorporating his R&B style into every key he plays on the piano.

“I first play with my heart, then my hands in a sense. The music takes me away,’” he said.

This multitalented student majors in business management but his true passion is music. Francis Francis says he might transfer to a different school. He really wants to major in entrepreneurship with a concentration of music, however, majoring in music is not UVI’s strong point. According to UVI’s website, the only degree program that UVI offers in relation to music is a bachelor’s degree in music education. Francis is torn between leaving home and going away to study his true passion.

When Francis is not playing a mellow tune, he is writing poetry. In his free time he plays his emotions into his piano and projects his lyrical thoughts on paper through song writing.

Francis is a perfectionist when it comes to his music. Along with recording his music, his keen hearing for piano notes allows him to tune his music to perfection.

Francis is an original. His smooth style, soulful keys and other musical elements included in his music are 100 percent him. He listens to a variety of music because he believes every artist is unique and it inspires him to be different. Listening to a variety of musical genres allows Francis to channel his musical abilities through his voice and instruments to share with other people who enjoy music.

There are only a few people who aware of Francis’ talent because there are limited showcasing outlets for musical talent at UVI. Promoting himself as an artist can be difficult because he does not have the proper materials to record his music. However, Francis still finds alternatives to promote his music through social networks like Facebook.

The famous pianist, Ludwig van Beethoven said, “the barriers are not erected which can say to aspiring talents and industry, ‘Thus far and no further.’”

Francis and a group of other young artists are on their way to making an album. The album will contain a collage of young local artists showcasing their different styles and abilities.

Music is something special to Francis. It brings out a humble, artistic aura that touches others when he plays. Even though showcasing outlets and required materials to record his music are few, Francis pushes through and finds alternatives to stay local through the album and remain at UVI.

The University of the Virgin Islands has musically talented students who anxiously wait to find an outlet to showcase their abilities.

“If you have a talent, use it in every which way possible. Don`t hoard it. Don`t dole it out like a miser. Spend it lavishly like a millionaire intent on going broke.” said Aaron Kildow.

UVI Little Theatre to Stage ‘Bus Stop: with Caribbean Seasoning’


William Inge’s classic American comedy-drama “Bus Stop,” a smash Broadway hit and memorable Marilyn Monroe movie, takes a Caribbean detour to UVI’s Little Theatre on the St. Thomas Campus, with productions set for Nov. 1-3 and 8 to 10.

Originally set in Kansas City in a snowstorm, this new version – “Bus Stop: With Caribbean Seasonings” – was adapted by UVI Playwright in Residence Dr. Doug Larche. It is set in Puerto Rico in a hurricane. Five characters find themselves marooned overnight with three locals at La Cantina de Grácia, between San Juan and Fajardo. The play offers love scenes, a fistfight, a talent show, an abduction and a little music – along with the hurricane.

More than a host of UVI students, alumni, faculty, staff and friends are involved in the production.

The characters hail from Puerto Rico, Dominica, Peru and West Texas. Three relationships hang in the balance: headstrong rodeo cowboy Bo (Khalarni Rivers) has kidnapped Red Iguana showgirl Cherie (Estelle Andrew); lonely cantina owner Grácia (Rita Green) finally lets bus-driver Carlos (Joshua Jno-Pierre) into her heart; and innocent “cafecito-eyed” Alma (Akela Brumant) wanders into the clutches of the old professor with the wandering eye, Dr. Limón (Dr. Doug Iannucci). El Deputado Guillermo Machado (Noel Charles) is the sheriff who watches over the cantina and the ladies therein, while old cowboy sidekick Virgil (Dr. Doug Larche) watches over Bo, while strumming his guitar. Delreese Gifft and Althia Henry are rehearsal assistants, understudies, and will perform Alma and Grácia, respectively, for theSunday, Nov. 3, and Sunday, Nov. 10, afternoon performances.

The show is also directed by Dr. Larche, who recently returned from a year-long leave of absence at Yeungnam University in South Korea. UVI staff member Carey Galdo is associate producer. Josie Brannon and Nicole Moore are student assistant directors. Guest technical artist and former Little Theatre tech director Doug Salisbury and UVI senior Jae Knight serve as design and technical artists and consultants. Former Little Theatre director Dr. Rosary Harper is the costume designer, and UVI student Josie Brannon serves as stage manager.

Student crew heads include Shamari Skelton and Jaleel Drigo as lead carpenters, Nicole Moore for sound, Keturah Bethel for publicity, Kareme Joseph for costumes, Renée Williams for makeup and hair, and Matthew Eastman for lighting. Crew members include Amber Clarke, Avril Paul, Deeno Cumberbatch, Najuma Dunn, Sharlene Joseph, Shamira Henley and the students of the UVI Introduction to Theatre class.

The production of “Bus Stop with Caribbean Seasoning” marks the official re-opening of the UVI Little Theatre as a safe and accessible classroom and black box performing arts facility. Its entry hallway features newly restored, matted and framed historical and contemporary posters marking the Little Theatre’s remarkable career. The majority of these distinctive posters were illustrated by Josée A. Deckert. Long-time patrons will find a veritable memory lane showcasing works of their favorite directors – dominated by three decades of Harper-Parker Productions (UVI Professors Emeritus Drs. Rosary Harper and Dennis Parker). Contributors to and supporters of the restoration will be honored on opening night.

Tickets are $5 for students of all kinds and ages, and $10 for adults. They can be purchased from the Humanities Office on UVI’s St. Thomas Campus (call Administrative Assistant Mary Alexander at (340) 693-1340) or at the door. Seating is extremely limited. The Friday and Saturday evening shows begin precisely at 7:30 p.m. and the Sunday matinees begin precisely at 2 p.m. Patrons who arrive after curtain will be allowed to enter at the end of Act I, which is approximately thirty minutes into the show.

For more information contact Dr. Doug Larche at (340) 693-1341 or 626-8815. Send e-mail to