UT K-Pop group wins award

The University of Tennessee’s Kascade won the Best Choreography award at the 2018 Middle Tennessee Anime Convention (MTAC) lip-sync competition. The MTAC 18th Battalion, held in Nashville at the Sheraton Music City Hotel and Embassy Suites, lasted three days from March 30 to April 1. UTK Kascade won the Best Group award at the contest last year at MTAC Haiku.

The returning champions appeared on stage with confidence. Because the lip-sync contest required participants to cosplay, to dress up as characters, Kascade members dressed as Ariel from “Little Mermaid,” Belle from “Beauty and the Beast,” Jasmine from “Aladdin,” Snow White and Pocahontas.

Kascade danced to “Now, We” by Lovelyz. Their cute and demure dance captured Disney simplicity and the audience’s attention. No one expected, however, for the group to suddenly change the song to “You Think” by Girls Generation and start a powerful, alluring dance. The performance garnered large audience support and judge support.

“Dancing is really important to us, and we were really happy to see what we love to do be appreciated by other people,” Shelby Neil, a Kascade leader, said. “I was really excited to hear that we won best choreography.”

Kascade’s Best Choreography award is one of five awards presented to participants of the contest. Kascade also received a free pass for the 2019 MTAC.

“The lip-sync is one of my favorite events of the year, so I like go all out in planning it,” Jinna Free, another Kascade leader, said. “It’s always an honor to see our hard work pay off.”


Featured Image: Jeff Park

Image from left: Jinna Free, Alexandria Ansari, Savannah Householder, Shelby Neil, Kane Dayton 



Concert, Chamber choirs commence spring series

With an impending trip to the Emerald Isle and a journey’s end for graduate students, the University of Tennessee choral department began its spring concert series March 28 with the UT Concert Choir and UT Chamber Singers in Cox Auditorium.

The Concert Choir kicked off the concert with seven songs, three performed by small groups.

“These small groups were taken out of the large group and spent most of the time by themselves working on these pieces,” Dr. Angela Batey, director of choral activities, said.

Students in the graduate teaching program conducted Concert Choir’s selections, marking the swan song for several graduate students including second year graduate student Rebecca Smith.

“I took an intro to conducting class at an undergraduate level and I enjoyed it so I decided to go along with this path,” Smith said.

Smith also said keeping up with ten thousand things at once proves to be the hardest part of choral conducting, though she remains excited about her career path. She currently works with four choirs and plans to work as an elementary school choir teacher after graduation in May.

Clay Oglesby, also a second year graduate student, said he benefited from spending a lot of time with different choirs and the contemporary a cappella groups. Oglesby serves as conductor of the men’s group VOLume.

He conducted Concert Choir in “How Lovely is Thy Dwelling Place,” a reverent piece to end his career as a student conductor. But this may not be his last collegiate piece.

“After grad school, I am hoping to go on to teach at a community college,” Oglesby said.

While the graduate students looked to their future careers, the Chamber Singers looked forward to Irish eyes smiling as they travel to Ireland this summer.

Chamber Singers sang five songs to prepare. With three Irish songs, “Star of the County Down,” “The Flower of Maherally” and “Tell My Ma,” the Chamber Singers gave cultural insight to Irish tunes.

Next Tuesday at 8:00 p.m., the Men’s and Women’s chorales will perform in Cox Auditorium to continue the Spring 2018 concert series. For more information, visit the choral department’s website.

Featured photo: Kaitlyn Marlowe

Edited by Lexie Little

Daje Morris performs at Big Ears Poetry Expo

This year marks the ninth annual Big Ears Festival in Knoxville. The Big Ears Poetry Expo ran March 22-24, including open-mic events with guest spoken-word features. Writer, photographer and singer/songwriter Daje Morris performed as the featured guest Friday night at Awaken Coffee.

Last year, Morris participated in the swamp poetry expo. This year marked her first time as a featured artist. Morris performed four songs, two infused with poetry.

“I like to keep the songs around that speak to me at that time,” Morris said. “‘Blackbird’ is one of those that I find something nearly every time I perform it.”

Based in Knoxville, Morris performs at festivals like Big Ears, Rhythm ‘n’ Blooms and the Dogwood Arts Festival. Her new spoken word single “Blackbird” will be released this summer. She published her first poem collection, “On Becoming Gold,” last year.

University of Tennessee student Anna Helms met Morris while participating in the Women in Jazz Festival last week.

“I thought she had this amazing vibe,” Helms said.

Morris’ vibe translates appeals to the larger community as well. All print copies of her poetry collection sold within four months of publication.

I.N.K. hosted the event featuring Morris and others. A comedy and poetry duo Lane Shuler and Courageous humored the crowd with their improv and a spoken-word poem comparing cooking to relationships.

The poetry expo event ended March 24 with “Loud & Clear: Big Ears Indie Poetry Slam Finale. The winner received a $500 prize.

The Big Ears Festival intertwines music, art, film and performance at venues across Downtown Knoxville each year.

Featured photo by Sage Davis

Edited by Lexie Little/Chelsea Babin

Staff Recommendations: March 2018

Put some spring in your step for the rest of March with the Tennessee Journalist’s latest entertainment recommendations:

Novel: “Ready Player One”

Dystopian future and video game fans, get ready. “Ready Player One” takes readers to the year 2044 and immerses them in a virtual reality world where everyone tries to escape reality. When the virtual reality game creator dies, a video spreads. The video reveals that whoever can find the “Easter eggs” in the game will win his fortune. While the novel was originally published in 2011, the film adaptation premieres this year on March 29. According to the New York Times Best Sellers list for combined print and e-book fiction, “Ready Player One” spent 16 weeks on the list and is currently ranked as #7.


“Found/Tonight,” performed by Ben Platt of Broadway’s “Dear Evan Hansen” and “Hamilton” composer Lin-Manuel Miranda, rocks the charts to continue the revolutionary show’s success. The song sits at #1 on the iTunes charts. Earlier this year, Miranda said one original song would be released every month thanks to the popularity of not only the “Hamilton” soundtrack but also the follow-up album, the “Hamilton Mixtape”. Thus far, “The Hamilton Polka,” “Ben Franklin’s Song,” and “Wrote My Way Out Remix” are the only other released #Hamildrops. “Found/Tonight” mashes the songs “You Will Be Found” from “Dear Evan Hansen” and “Story of Tonight” from “Hamilton.”

Movie: “Love, Simon”

“Love, Simon,” based on the 2016 novel “Simon vs. the Homo SapiensAgenda” by Becky Albertalli, is a coming of age and coming out story of Simon Spier. Spier, a seventeen-year-old guy yet to come out to his family and friends, finds himself in love with an anonymous classmates online. The movie, which debuted at 92% Fresh on RottenTomatoes.com, received positive feedback from both critics and fans alike. Peter Travers, Rolling Stone film critic said, “A seemingly ordinary coming-of-age tale that looms large because of its inclusive romantic embrace, ‘Love, Simon’ wins you over by capturing your heart without pushing too hard for the prize.” “Love, Simon” also received praise for being the first mainstream studio film to feature a gay teen as the main character. The film, in theaters now, classifies as both a romantic comedy and dramatic film, funny and uplifting.

TV Shows: “Once Upon a Time,” “Jessica Jones,” and “Young Sheldon”

For fans of fantasy, Disney, or fairytale stories, “Once Upon a Time” is the perfect show, including favorite story book characters in tales of adventure, romance, and heroism. The series concludes May 18 after seven adventurous seasons. Before the series finale, catch up on the show’s past seasons wherever you stream shows.

Following the “Big Bang Theory,” “Young Sheldon” focuses on the backstory of child-prodigy Sheldon Cooper. Sheldon faces bullies and other struggles as a 9-year-old boy in high school. “Young Sheldon” showcases his antics in a comedic and heartwarming way. The show also marks the television return of Annie Potts, who shines in her typical southern, sassy role as Meemaw. The show can be found on CBS Thursdays at 8:30 ET.

Television fans looking forward to the next installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe Avenger’s Infinity War, should check out Netflix original series “Jessica Jones.” The show  offers a new look into the same Marvel universe. Jessica Jones, a former superhero, is now a private investigator in New York City. The series ties in other Marvel characters such as Luke Cage as crime unfolds. Season two debuted March 8.


Opinion: Taylor Swift’s ‘Reputation’ gets personal

Taylor Swift’s highly anticipated sixth studio album, “Reputation,” was released at midnight Nov. 10, and immediately shot to number one album on the iTunes charts.

It is hard to believe that the girl who just wanted to find “A Place in the World” is the same woman 11 years later who released the pop anthem, “Look What You Made Me Do.” However, artists change their style as they grow in the music industry and Swift is no exception.

Reputation opens with already well-known “…Ready For It?” which was teased in late August. The album is full of fun pop songs that will make you want to get up and dance as well as few surprises for Swift. Songs such as “Dress” and “Delicate” show a more sensual side of the singer that has not been as prevalent in previous albums.

The album also features one hip-hop-esque collaboration between Swift and artists Future and Ed Sheeran titled “End Game.”

For fans concerned that when the “old Taylor” died, the “new Taylor” would lose her strong lyrics and love ballads, Reputation has proven them wrong. Songs such as “Getaway Car,” “Call It What You Want” and “New Year’s Day,” remind fans of music from Swift’s previous albums but with new twists.

As a singer, songwriter, phenomenal performer and cat enthusiast, Swift is always changing the game when it comes to the music industry. Between her six studio albums, an app to be released later this year, sold-out tours, hundreds of appearances in movies and on television and so much more, there is nothing that she cannot do when she puts her mind to it.

Overall, this album is sure to please any dedicated “Swiftie” and anyone interested in listening to a confident, happy, in love and powerful woman perform her most personal and revealing album to date.

Swift may believe that her reputation has never been worse, but to her loyal fans, Swift has never been better.

To purchase “Reputation,” visit iTunes, Target, Walmart or the online Taylor Swift store.

Featured image by GabboT

Edited by Kaitlin Flippo

Homecoming: Kelsea Ballerini returns to perform at alma mater

Kelsea Ballerini returned to her alma mater last Friday to kick off her album release week.

Ballerini, a Knoxville native, performed at Central High School’s gymnasium for fans across the U.S. with Ryan Griffin as her opening act.

Griffin, who co-wrote Ballerini’s hit song “Dibs,” performed a mix of original songs and covers.

Ballerini said she had realized her passion for music while attending Central High School, so it would only be fitting for her to have a show where it all started.

Ballerini performed some songs from her previous album, like “Dibs,” “Love Me Like You Mean It” and “Peter Pan.” She also performed some unreleased songs from her upcoming album “Unapologetically” that is set to be released on Nov. 3.

The sold-out crowd was full of dedicated fans and many who were not familiar with much of Ballerini’s music.

“I’ve been following Kelsea since her first album released. “Peter Pan” is one of my favorite songs so I was so happy when she played it,” Abbi Couch, a dedicated fan said.

Pami Fletcher, however, had not listened to Ballerini’s music before but came with a friend. She said she had a wonderful time at the show.

Ballerini shared she was happy to be home.

“This is the most special show I’ve ever played,” she said.

The show was part of Tennessee Department of Tourist Development’s Snapchat Concert Series. Fans that followed the Snapchat account were able to claim tickets by redeeming a code. There were multiple ticket releases and all tickets were free.

Ballerini also partnered with iHeartRadio and the Academy of Country Music to donate $20,000 to Central High School’s music department. Following the donation, the principal of Central High School presented Ballerini with the honorable Bobcat Award.

Ballerini closed the show with her hit “Yeah Boy” then returned to the stage for the donation and an encore with her recently released single “High School.”

To learn more about Ballerini and her music, visit her website.

Featured image by Samantha Neal

Edited by Taylor Owens and Kaitlin Flippo