Columbia talent rises to the top of AEMMP


Kelly Wenzel

Rebecca Brunner, a sophomore music major, played an acoustic set and later performed with OBY at the AEMMP On the Rise Talent Showcase Nov. 19 at HAUS in the Quincy Wong Center at the 623 S. Wabash Ave. Building.

By Assistant Campus Editor

Students from across the college came to see six of Columbia’s rising stars perform as part of AEMMP Talent Agency’s annual “On the Rise” Talent Showcase on Nov. 19. The showcase grows out of the Business & Entrepreneurship Department’s work with Columbia talent.

A cross-genre range of talent played at HAUS in the Quincy Wong Center at the 623 S. Wabash Ave. Building, including poet Kyle Ballou, a senior creative writing major; singer/guitarist Shaun Hoffman, a senior music major; singer/songwriter Rebecca Brunner, a sophomore music major; rapper Banks the Genius, a junior business & entrepreneurship major and two bands, punk-rock band Under Fire and multi-genre ensemble OBY.

Anisa Peraica, a graduate student in the Business & Entrepreneurship Department, said production on the showcase started nearly two months before the show. Peraica said the talent agency looked for a number of characteristics in auditions, including passion, potential staying power in the industry and the size of performers’ fan bases. 

“Close to 25 people showed up and, out of that, we decided who performed based on the traits we were looking for,” Peraica said.

Peraica said many types of performers auditioned to be part of the talent showcase, including actors, poets and musicians. 

“We determined the level [each artist] was at—whether they were just beginning or already had a following,” Peraica said. “We wanted people [who are] beginning to establish themselves.”

The Business & Entrepreneurship Department and AEMMP work with student artists throughout their time at Columbia to ensure they get the exposure and experience they need to be successful in the music industry after graduating, Peraica said. 

Brunner said she auditioned immediately after seeing flyers promoting the opportunity to be part of AEMMP Records.

“I try to do as many auditions possible,” she said. “I’m working with AEMMP, and this event is them showcasing their talent.”

Brunner said she is gaining a new skill set from AEMMP and learning the realities of the music industry.

“One thing I notice about AEMMP is that a lot of students start out as being really awesome musicians but don’t have the management behind them,” Brunner said. “AEMMP is showcasing what it’s like out in the real world. You have to look for things and audition to be a part of it. This is an opportunity to understand the aspects of a record label working with an artist, and I think that’s important.”

Brunner said AEMMP is acting as her management team to build a brand in the industry. The record label helps book shows and works as a go-to for any questions throughout the artists’ time at Columbia, she said.

“Although it’s a student-run record label, there’s a lot of support  in booking shows and supporting your music,” Brunner said. “[AEMMP] is giving the artist experience working with management teams.”

Isaiah Oby, member of the band OBY and a junior music major, said the AEMMP Talent Agency has helped push him and the band out of their comfort zone and into the real world of performing.

“[The agency] acts as pseudo-managers,” Oby said. “They’re helping us get our name out there  in the music industry and giving us tips and ideas and ways we can use social media and stuff  like that.”

Rob Mefford, a junior business & entrepreneurship major who performs under the moniker Banks the Genius, agreed that the AEMMP record label and programs are a great way to get a foot in the door as a musician.

“They take creatives and help them book shows and perpetuate a brand and artistry,” Mefford said.