Daya and D.R.A.M. try to win over a restless Lafayette crowd (REVIEW)

The two acts fared differently at Lafayette College’s 2017 spring concert in Easton.

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Lafayette College wanted the hits. 

At the school’s spring concert Saturday night (open to the public for a price, and free for Lafayette students), the cheery singer/rapper D.R.A.M. and the rising pop star Daya faced a restless crowd in the Kirby Sports Center eager to hear the artists’ biggest songs. 

The attendees waiting for D.R.A.M.’s singles “Broccoli” and “Cha Cha” seemed not to expect — or much appreciate — his penchant for slow jams. The Virginia songsmith, whose stage name stands for “Does Real Ass Music,” kicked off the set by showing off his pipes on his self-affirming album-opener “Get It Myself.”

While his first few numbers were plagued by technical difficulties, D.R.A.M (who was born Shelley Massenburg-Smith) soldiered through the issues with energy and charisma. Wearing a hoodie and and one of the most infectious smiles in the business, D.R.A.M. gave it his all through the boppy “Cute” and the funky “Outta Sight.” Erykah Badu once described D.R.A.M. as the lovechild of George Clinton, Ol’ Dirty Bastard and D’Angelo, and that reputation was on full display. 

But his charm and vocal chops couldn’t convince much of a chittering, dwindling audience to appreciate his more soulful tracks, including a suite of smooth slow-burners dedicated to his hometown of Hampton, Va. (One impatient concertgoer even tried to start a “F— D.R.A.M.” chant, but was mercifully unsuccessful.)

It wasn’t until he launched into a full-throated sermon to introduce “Cash Machine,” his gleeful ode to solvency, that D.R.A.M. truly won the crowd over. He followed that by rewarding those who’d stuck around with his breakout song “Cha Cha” (which Drake later adapted into the smash “Hotline Bling”), shimmying with dreads swinging, all the while.

Still, toward the show’s end, the audience, desperate for the chart-topper “Broccoli,” was barely willing to indulge a leisurely rendition of “D.R.A.M. Sings Special” from Chance the Rapper’s popular 2016 release “Coloring Book” — especially since D.R.A.M. claimed it would be night’s the last song.

After briefly leaving the stage, D.R.A.M. returned to admit, “Ah yes, we do have one more song, don’t we?” D.R.A.M. led into his biggest hit by first turning its ribald hook into a tongue-in-cheek ballad, and then gave the crowd exactly what it wanted all along: A buoyant, jubilant “Broccoli,” complete with D.R.A.M. crowd-surfing. 

Daya, who went on before D.R.A.M., paced her set more to the hit-craving audience’s liking. Backed by an all-female band, the Pennsylvania native, in pinstripe pants and a yellow and black crop-top, began with the album cuts “Dare,” “ICYMI” and “Got the Feeling.” 

These lesser-known tracks managed to keep the audience’s attention with their electronic pulse, stadium-worthy drums and sugary hooks. But the set took off only a few songs in, when Daya busted out her platinum-selling “Hide Away” for an all-out singalong. She cooled things down with a pair of softer tracks, to less-than-rapt reception: When she encouraged her fans to wave their phone lights along to a song, only a smattering obliged, and only briefly.

It wasn’t long before she had the room back on her side. “Feel Good,” the singer’s new collaboration with Gryffin and Illenium, had the floor moving with a huge drop; “Don’t Let Me Down,” the massively popular and Grammy-winning Chainsmokers song featuring Daya’s vocals, brought the house down.

Daya is a crowd-pleaser, and this crowd was anxious to be pleased. 

Andrew Doerfler may be reached at adoerfler@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @adoerfler or on Facebook.

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Cortney Lakis, 32, of Salisbury Township, is running the St. Luke’s Half Marathon Sunday.

Six years ago, Cortney Lakis underwent a procedure that could have either saved her life or killed her. 

Now 32-years-old and very much alive, the Salisbury Township resident marks the anniversary of her stem cell transplant in a special way.

There have been parties, trips and even a tattoo of hope ribbons representing the cancers she fought.

But this year Lakis wanted to do something to push herself mentally and physically towards a healthier lifestyle. Something that forced her to push aside the “I had cancer excuse,” when things got too hard, she said.

So, in January she signed up for the St. Luke’s Half Marathon along with three of her girlfriends. Sunday she’s tackling her first 13.1 mile race with them by her side.

She’s often wondered if she’s crazy to try this as she’s trained for the race. Chemotherapy has taken a toll on her body.

“My body sometimes feels like it is 80 instead of 32,” Lakis said.

She worries she won’t finish before the three hour course limit. But Lakis is also really excited and already talking about her next race. 

The training has forced Lakis to face head-on the ways cancer changed her life, her body and even her mind. She’s learned how much of long distance running is a mental game.

The diagnosis

Lakis’ cancer was misdiagnosed for more than a year. Doctors attributed her persistent cough and itching to allergies, then asthma and then eczema.

The lumps in her neck too were dismissed until her gynecologist felt them during her annual checkup and told her to see another doctor.

“The second he put his hands on my throat he said, ‘I am going to schedule you for a CT-scan,'” Lakis recalled.

It was shocking to be diagnosed with cancer at the age of 25, when one still feels rather invincible, Lakis said.  

But everyone told her that if she had to have cancer, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma was the one to have. There’s a successful six-month treatment protocol that’s not as grueling as others and five-year survival rates can be as high as 95 percent.

So, Lakis kept a positive attitude throughout treatment, hoping to get chemo and finish her student teaching.

“Let’s get through this and get the six months over with,” Lakis recalled thinking.

After six month, Lakis got a clean bill of health. But within a month she knew something wasn’t right.

She was bartending at the Brew Works on the Green at the time and every time she took a sip of alcohol she felt a terrible, searing pain in her back, which is lymphoma symptom.

Three day before Christmas 2010, Lakis learned that her cancer had returned and the outlook was no longer so good.

“Apparently, Hodgkins is the best cancer to have unless it comes back,” she said.

Doctors came up with an aggressive treatment plan that consisted of two rounds of in-patient chemotherapy, which would each last a week with a month recovery in between. Then Lakis would undergo a stem cell transplant.

Higher doses of chemo, which may be needed to kill the cancer, come with their own risks. The drugs severely damage bone marrow, where the body makes new blood cells.

Stem cell transplants allow doctors to use more aggressive chemotherapy dosages, because afterwards chemo patients receive a transplant of blood-forming stem cells to replenish the bone marrow, according to the American Cancer Society.

After finishing the chemo before her transplant, Lakis was given some time to recuperate and underwent a scan that showed her to be in remission. But she still needed to complete the stem cell transplant.

“Once Hodgkins comes back, it has a nasty habit of coming back again,” she said.

In March of 2011, she checked in to the hospital for doses of chemo that completely wiped out her immune system in preparation for the transplant.

“If anyone got me sick I probably would’ve died because I had absolutely no immune system at all,” Lakis said. “It even wiped out my antibodies from my childhood immunizations.”

The re-birthday

Lakis underwent her transplant on April 14.

“In the transplant community, we call it your re-birthday,” she said. “I told myself, every year I am going to do something on that day.”

Before her diagnosis, Lakis was trying to make running a habit. Her recovery and road to becoming a long-distance runner has been both a physical and mental struggle.

Chemo does a number on your joints, it can weaken your heart and scar your lungs, Lakis said. It’s left her unable to have children as well.

“I’d get started and then I’d quit because this is too hard. My heart would beat so fast I was afraid I was going to have a heart attack,” she said. “I was always asking, ‘Is this normal or is this a cancer side effect?'”

Lakis recently underwent a battery of testing when her hormone levels were off and was told she was medically cleared for any physical activity.

After five years of wondering what chemotherapy had done to her body, Lakis is committed to getting in shape and sticking with it.

“A healthier lifestyle can only help to keep those side effects at bay,” she said.

Cancer did bring one good thing into Lakis’ life. She stopped substitute teaching when she relapsed because the treatment was too draining. 

When she was healthy again, teaching didn’t hold the same draw. Lakis found a job with Via of the Lehigh Valley, managing a grant-funded program that gives disabled high school students paid work experience.

It encompasses all of the things she loved about teaching and none of the things she disliked.

“I really found my niche because cancer changed my mind a bit,” Lakis, who is about to celebrate five years with Via, said.

She is already planning to run Via’s half-marathon in September.

Sara K. Satullo may be reached at ssatullo@lehighvalleylive.com. Follow her on Twitter @sarasatullo and Facebook. Find lehighvalleylive.com on Facebook.

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St. Luke’s Half Marathon 2017: Race times, where to cheer, roads to avoid

We’ve got all the information you need to navigate or avoid the race weekend.

One of the Lehigh Valley‘s largest road races kicks off Sunday morning, but there’s plenty happening all weekend that will affect more than just the runners tackling the 13.1-mile course in Allentown

Sunday marks the 33rd running of the St. Luke’s Half Marathon. Here’s a look at what runners, spectators and residents can expect.

A crowded course: More than 2,500 have registered for the half marathon, another 600-plus registered for the associated 5K, and yet another 600 signed up for the youth run.

Saturday family fun:There’s a Saturday youth run at 2:30 p.m., which starts at PPL Plaza, 835 W. Hamilton St., Allentown.

From 2 p.m. until 4:30 p.m., Hamilton Street will be closed between Eighth and 12th streets, and Eighth, Ninth, 10th and 11th streets will be closed at their intersections with Hamilton Street.

An early start: The half marathon starts at 8:10 a.m. Sunday outside William Allen High School at 18th and Linden streets. The 5k gun goes off 10 minutes earlier, at 8 a.m., at the same location. A 1.5-mile family fun walk is also planned for 8:20 a.m. Sunday outside William Allen.

Where to park: For Sunday’s races, the Allentown Fairgrounds parking lots are the place to go. They’re a couple of blocks from the high school at 17th and Chew streets. Allentown police and security personnel will be directing traffic in the vicinity.

St. Luke's Half Marathon courseThis is the course for the St. Luke’s Half Marathon Sunday, April 23.Courtesy photo 

Plenty of scenery: The half marathon course takes runners through scenic Lehigh Parkway.

Check the weather: The weather forecast for Sunday was looking a bit rough with a very high chance of rain. That’s been downgraded to a 20 percent chance. Fingers crossed that holds.

A big finish: The half marathon’s finish line is inside J. Birney Crum Stadium. Spectators will line the street leading into the stadium to cheer on runners on the home stretch.

Want to cheer on runners earlier in the race: Spectator buses will do pick-ups at William Allen. They stop along the course at the intersection of 15th Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard and at the covered bridge on Lehigh Parkway. The buses are free and run continuously, but no dogs are allowed.

Want to avoid the race altogether: Well, you should probably stay out of Allentown, but if that’s not possible, these roads will be closed from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Sunday unless otherwise noted: 

Linden Street, which becomes Broadway, between 17th Street and Ott Street.

Broadway between Ott Street and Cedar Crest Boulevard — closed between 8 a.m. and 8:40 a.m. for the St. Luke’s 5k race.

Ott Street between Broadway and Hamilton Boulevard (reopens at about 9 a.m.)

Hamilton Boulevard between 21st and 22nd streets (sporadic closures)

Yocco Drive

Reading Road/Walnut Street between Yocco Drive and St. Elmo Street.

South St. Elmo Street

Union Street at the St. Elmo Street intersection

Lehigh Parkway East between Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Lehigh Parkway North, and Lehigh Parkway north at the entrance to the Lehigh Parkway trail.

Park Drive in the Lehigh Parkway park

Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard between St. Elmo Street and South 3th Street and the roads that intersect with Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, including the ramps to 15th Street, South 10th Street, Lehigh Street and West Union Street near Parkettes.

What are we forgetting: Unless you paid extra for race-day pick up, you have to grab your race packet at the Race Expo scheduled for 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Holiday Inn, 904 Hamilton St., Allentown. Bring a photo ID. Retailers selling gear, personal trainers and nutritionists are among the exhibitors participating in the expo so you might as well just bring your whole wallet. Two paid parking decks are near the hotel.

Sara K. Satullo may be reached at ssatullo@lehighvalleylive.com. Follow her on Twitter @sarasatullo and Facebook. Find lehighvalleylive.com on Facebook.

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