By day, Jannie L. Blackwell is an oh-so-serious Philadelphia City Council member, known for helping the homeless people who show up at her office and for overseeing her West Philadelphia district like a fiefdom.
But Thursday night, she was "Jannie from Cheyney." Clad in a black-and-white Adidas track suit, bulky gold chain, and sunglasses, the councilwoman - a graduate of Cheyney University - and several staffers did their own version of the Sugarhill Gang's "Rapper's Delight."
"And in conclusion / I'd just like to say / I'm Jannie from Cheyney / have a blessed day," she rapped.
Her performance was a hit in a show more often filled with humorous misses as City Council members participated in "Council's Got Talent," a fund-raiser for the antihunger organization Philabundance held at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
From the moment the show was announced a few weeks ago, most of the participants admitted that the premise that they had talent was questionable, but said they joined in because they believed in the cause.
It turned out a few had actual talent. Councilwoman Marian B. Tasco showed off her cha-cha to "Jazzy Lady."
Councilman William K. Greenlee received roaring applause when he told a joke about Mayor Nutter's confronting a man who was smoking, eating a cheeseburger and fries, and drinking a large soda. Nutter is known for health initiatives, including trying to tax sugared beverages. In Greenlee's tale, Nutter confronts the man, warning him that his bad habits will make him die young. The man responds that one of his relatives lived into his 90s.
"Do you know how he did it?" he said to Nutter. The mayor responds that he assumes the relative watched his weight and didn't smoke. The man answers: "No, he minded his own business."
Even those acts that were roundly panned by the judges - former Council President Anna C. Verna, former Mayor John F. Street, and radio personality Joe Conklin - got points for trying.
When the normally staid Council President Darrell L. Clarke and several staffers gathered around a lectern to croon Boyz II Men's "When I Fall in Love," the crowd strained to figure out what exactly they were singing. Street joked that they "sound like professional mourners."
Conklin did his best Nutter imitation to say of Clarke and his group, "It's amazing that five brothers gathered around a microphone can sound whiter than me."
See a video from the "Council's Got Talent" fund-raiser at www.philly.com/talentEndText