Danielle Jones took what she described as a "creative risk" during the talent portion of "The Ascension to the Throne" – the 2013 Miss Black and Gold Scholarship Pageant hosted by the Nu Eta Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
With violin comfortably in place, Jones played a violin dubstep (a genre of electronic dance music) piece by Lindsey Sterling.
"It pushed me out of my comfort zone to first play a solo, and then to memorize the music," said Jones of Rhodes College.
The gamble paid off, helping Jones emerge from five "Nubian Princesses" to secure the title of Miss Black and Gold Scholarship at the pageant held in Christian Brothers' University Theatre last Sunday (April 7).
In addition to creative and performing arts, the pageant featured intellectual expression and evening gown/ swimwear competition. It also signaled that the Nu Eta Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. is back on campus at CBU and Rhodes College after a 25-year hiatus.
"The Nu Eta Chapter has recently been re-chartered during the Fall 2012 semester, making this our first Miss Black and Gold Scholarship Pageant," said Ronald Bené Woods, chapter president, in his formal greeting.
"It has been a lot of hard work but for a good purpose. I would like to personally thank our pageant contestants and their families, as well as a special thank you to Ms. Jessica Pollard, our Pageant Coordinator."
Amaris Judson of Rhodes College, and Kiara Suggs, Jessica Ramey and Adama Sow, of Christian Brothers University, joined Jones in the battle for the "throne."
The pageant competition included interviews with the judges, grade point average, amount of ads sold and response to this question: "What do you think the local government could do to help decrease Memphis' unemployment rate, which is reportedly 18 percent above the national average?"
The pageant, which was chaired by Christopher Perkins, began with a viewing of the pageant's promotional video, followed by an opening dance, with the contestants introducing themselves at the end of Beyoncé's "End of Time."
Ramey weighed in with an interpretive dance that went head-to-head with Sow's cultural-dancing performance, Suggs' dramatic presentation from "For Colored Girls," Judson's recital of Maya Angelou's "Still I Rise" poem, and Jones' instrumental solo on the violin.
Sow won Miss Congeniality, as voted by her peers. Judson was the 2nd Runner-up for Miss Black and Gold. Suggs won the Most Ads Sold Award and was the pageant's 1st runner-up.
As the pageant neared its conclusion, everyone had an opinion about who would be crowned the pageant and scholarship winner.
"Participating in the Miss Black and Gold Scholarship Pageant has been a grueling yet fulfilling experience and going on to win is extremely thrilling," said Jones.
" As our coordinator (Pollard) kept reminding us, the winner would be the first Miss Black and Gold for the Nu Eta Chapter of Rhodes College and Christian Brothers University who are now active after 25 years," said Jones.
"Over the course of more than two months, I have gotten to know the other four contestants, to enjoy their characters and respect their strengths as we all persevered through the late night practices. I feel humbled to have won competing against those lovely ladies. Winning best talent feels incredible."
For Jones, the next step is regional competition in November.