Amidst Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the University of Texas at Dallas hosted a week of events dedicated to this cause during their campaign #UTDTurnsTeal. For the final gut-busting act of the week, the Student Wellness Center partnered with two national non-profit organizations, American Association of University Women and ItsOnUS, to bring the “Check Yes or No: Concert for Consent” to campus. This event featured speakers and musical artists from across Texas who support personal pledges of affirmative consent, the practice of sexual activity with consent from both partners always while affirming that they wish to continue. With UT Dallas represented as a cultural melting pot of opinions, practices, and beliefs, the event coordinators brought a likewise soiree of music ranging from “happy soulful” to Red Dirt music. Featured artists included Lavanya Desai, a student at UTD who performed a set-list of today’s freshest pop hits, Maya Piata, also a student at UTD who performed songs from her new EP Sunny Days which infuses uplifting beats and soul, and Landon Bullard, a renowned Texas country Red Dirt artist from San Marcos. Each introduced powerful verses and interluding tunes to make affirmative consent the new social norm on college campuses.
The concert opened with Lavanya Desai who performed “Feelin’ Good”, a rendition by Michael Buble. With the hot sun beating down on the stage, Desai powered through each song more soulfully than the last. She carried each tune with a boisterous boom and provided an octave of high notes while adding a twist of vibrato to her songs. Midway through her setlist, she introduced a guitarist to the stage for an almost acapella version of “I See Fire” by Ed Sheeran as he acoustically played to the tempo of Lavanya’s voice. To finish her performance, Desai sang a cover of “Nobody Love” by Tori Kelly. As the crowd reared in claps and snaps, she finished her song with a roar of supporters in the crowd.
Maya Piata then took the stage as the second performer of the evening. Her setlist consisted of songs from her newest EP Sunny Days released in Fall 2016. RadioUTD was no stranger to Piata’s inspiring sound as she was a guest in studio before discussing her coined “happy soulful” style of songwriting. At only 21 years old, Piata has created a foundation of music with a group of elated fellow bandmates that stole the hearts of the audience. She performed her music with an array of instruments including a Cajon Box Drum, keyboard, and an acoustic guitar. She presented her songs including “Caught Up” and “Summer’s Over” as well as covers of songs by Alicia Keys and Beyonce. Piata closed her performance with a grin and a wave to the crowd.
The final artist and headliner for the evening took the stage soon after with a complete transfer of equipment. Landon Bullard and his band brought a tradition set of instruments to perform his songs belonging to the Red Dirt music scene, a genre sprouting from a combination of blues and rock while maintaining a folk undertone. Bullard performed his songs “Matagorda” and “Hill Country Heart” that specifically related to the culture and landscape of Texas that the audience could identify. In addition, he played songs such as “Another Love”, “1000 Hearts”, and “Love is Blind” that sang to the heartbroken individuals listening to the final performance of the evening. With his original music reaching ears throughout the North Mall and beyond the Student Union, Bullard blasted his country inspiration across the UT Dallas campus to bring a new wave of cultural appreciation for the most forgotten genre of music.
The Check Yes or No: Concert for Consent not only provided the finest performances to the campus population but also advocated for affirmative consent, a factor of sexual assault generally swept under the rug. The concert ended the week of Sexual Assault Awareness activities with a bang.