The HuB knows how to mix viral marketing with the arts, and none was more evident than Monday night when HuB's founder Rich Swier Jr. sang "You Raise Me Up" to Joey Panek.
Panek, a success story of the HuB with his contributions of Sarasota Elf, The Art Whisperer among other initiatives, served as the master of ceremonies during the 14th annual Awards Celebration for the Arts and Cultural Alliance at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.
It was time for Swier to receive the award for the media category in Arts Leadership for his business incubator, and Swier wasn't sure how to express himself of how much Panek meant to HuB.
Cue the music.
"I can't take all the credit, and you see for yourself how amazing a talent he is," Swier said.
Swier bravely broke into "You Raise Me Up" — an inspirational ballad made famous by Josh Groban.
"This is just going to happen, Joey," Swier said, as the audience eagerly awaited his performance.
And so it began ...
"When I'm down," Swier sang, kind of on key.
"Where is this music coming from?" Panek wondered during the song.
Swier marched through the song, belting out note after note and
and then we find out that Panek is in on the joke as well as the entire HuB crew as one-by-one they file out for a song-and-dance opportunity to "You Raise Me Up."
Panek took over on vocals, belting out his theatrical voice to applause instead of the laughter prompted by Swier's gutsy performance.
Perhaps there could be a future for Swier & Panek on the road?
"Vince Gill has been looking for an opening act," Van Wezel Executive Director Mary Bensel said. "Rich and Joey, I think I've found you."
Visit Patch Tuesday for more coverage from the Arts and Cultural Alliance Awards.