Fifth Harmony’s Ally Brooke speaks and performs for CUP

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Fifth Harmony’s Ally Brooke speaks and performs for CUP

Ally Brooke performs

Ally Brooke performs "Perfect" with guitarist Colin. / Photo by Ashley Wong

Ally Brooke performs "Perfect" with guitarist Colin. / Photo by Ashley Wong

Ally Brooke performs "Perfect" with guitarist Colin. / Photo by Ashley Wong

Samuel Kim and Claire Wallace

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Fifth Harmony’s Ally Brooke took to the stage in Blackman Auditorium Monday night. Her appearance included a performance of her single “Perfect” and a discussion about her experiences as a Latina and a Christian in the music industry.

“Sometimes, you’ll go through really hard times, and you just have it give it all up to God,” Brooke said. “I know that he has my back. Even when things get trying, I’ve learned to say ‘Lord, if it’s your will, let it be done.’”

The talk was hosted by the Council of University Programs, or CUP, and the Latin American Student Organization on the second day of Springfest week. Dr. Rebekah E. Moore, a visiting assistant professor of music industry, moderated the discussion.

Though the event started at 7 p.m., several students were already lined up at the entrance by 6 p.m. They eagerly awaited the chance to see Brooke and ask her questions after the talk.

“Ally [Brooke] is my girl,” said Stephanie Che, a first-year communication studies and media and screen studies combined major. “I’m also a huge fan of Fifth Harmony, which is why I’m here tonight. I’ve seen them in concert five times.”

When the doors opened, approximately 100 attendees filed into the auditorium and rushed to claim the best seats. CUP members also set up a table near the doors and handed out free Springfest gear, including iridescent t-shirts, stickers and cups.  

Brooke began her speech by talking about how she became a musician.

“I’ve been singing my whole life, ever since I was a little baby in the backseat of the car,” Brooke said. “But then, when I was nine years old, my third grade teacher told my parents that she had overhead me singing one day. She told them I had a beautiful voice.”  

Brooke then joined the chapel choir and got more involved in singing, until finally she auditioned on “The X Factor” and eventually joined Fifth Harmony, an all-girl group with hits like “Work from Home” and “BO$$.”

“As soon as I performed [on ‘The X Factor’], I felt this electric energy come through me,” Brooke said. “I thought to myself, ‘Whoa, this is incredible and it makes me so happy.’ I’ve never felt like this before … It was a ‘pinch me’ moment … Ever since then, I’ve have had an enormous passion for music and singing. It was a life-changing moment.”

Brooke remained true to her nickname “Sunshine” throughout the talk as she laughed and engaged often with the audience. However, she also demonstrated a a more solemn side when a student asked her how she deals with maintaining her presence on social media. Brooke repeatedly emphasized how important it is to stay positive, even amid negativity that can influence those in creative industries.

“You can’t control what others say, so you need to know who you are and your self worth and value,” Brooke said. “You need to have love for yourself to sometimes say, ‘No, you are perfect.’ It’s okay to articulate what you want. Just be ferociously you … Speak up for who you are. ”

Many people in the audience came out to the event because of their familiarity with Fifth Harmony as a group.

“I have been a fan since the X Factor,” said Cheryl Lin, a first-year international business major. “I remember watching them sing and watching their audition … seeing them come together for the first time.”

Brooke described being a member of Fifth Harmony as a dream come true.  

“Being a part of Fifth Harmony has been incredible,” Brooke said. “I never thought I’d be able to travel the world doing what I love to do with other young females. We all share the same passion for singing.”

Brooke also said that she appreciates Fifth Harmony fans all over the world.

“Even though we may not be able to speak to each other, we can speak to each other through the power of music,” Brooke said.

Brooke herself is a Mexican-American. She said her heritage inspires her to work harder and that some of her biggest role models are Selena and Jennifer Lopez.

“I want to shine, because I’m proud of who I am as a Latina,” Brooke said.

Brooke got emotional when she discussed her charity efforts, which include funding organizations for animal cruelty prevention and premature baby support. Brooke said that she herself was born prematurely.

“I weighed one pound, three ounces and I was actually so small I could fit into my dad’s hand,” Brooke said. “Organizations like March of Dimes help babies and families to survive. I am so eternally grateful … They really help to change lives and you can’t put a price on that.”

Eric Yun, a fourth-year business administration major, described Brooke as a powerful and positive impact after the talk.

“I was really glad to see her being her true, sweet self, and I feel that I got to know her on a personal level,” Yun said. “I’m so inspired to see how far she’s come over the past six or seven years.”

Some audience members said Brooke’s performance was their favorite part of the night, including Hannah Guarino, a third-year business administration major.

“Brooke’s song ‘Perfect’ was so relatable and inspiring,” Guarino said. “There are a lot of expectations about what a girl around her age should be like and look like, but Brooke just showed that we should all accept and love ourselves. It was very touching.”

As Brooke concluded her talk, she left the audience with one last thought to apply to their lives.

“You can spread as much positivity, kindness and love as you want,” Brooke said.

Ashley Wong contributed to this article.