Utilities worker April Hudson never misses a beat
By Peter Hubbard
As each step taken strikes the stage, the drone of dozens of conversations dissolve into attentive silence. Four figures soon appear before their spectators and drift into position before addressing the demands of their awaiting audience. Breaking the tentative silence, loud pops penetrate the crowd as analog amps flicker on, soon buzzing softly into a steady electric hum. Brandishing his sticks, the drummer checks his kick and snare while the lead singer routinely wraps her hands around the microphone. As the first notes fly off stage the combined forces of melody, percussion, bass, and vocals evolve into an ensemble that captivates their audience. Leading on stage with a dynamite voice is none other than Schoolcraft’s April Hudson. The act goes by the name POWERPLAY, and their game is explosive rock & roll.
Anybody who knows her personally will agree Hudson lives a double life. On top of being a performer, she juggles working a grueling 40-hour-a-week schedule on campus grounds.
After serving three years in the culinary department as the afternoon grill cook, Hudson has spent the last ten years as a grounds worker. One of eight Utility I’s, she ranges her responsibilities on campus from event set ups, to grounds maintenance, to painting and other miscellaneous tasks.
According to her co-worker of two years and friend, Kevin Yakowhich, she tackles each job with enthusiasm: Hudson is equally as able at swinging sledgehammers as she is stunning fans at shows. “April is awesome. At our job she’s one of the best at guy work, one of the hardest workers, and she’s not afraid of taking the hardest tasks. She tells me she views it as a free work out. Like when we were sledging stakes in the ground to set up for Schooldaze she was one of the best at it.”
Hudson modestly views her work on campus as, “A pretty physical job, which is why it’s nice to play on stage, where I get to dress up in four-inch heels with cute skirts and dresses. It’s a nice change from wearing steel-toed boots and my manly work uniform forty hours a week.”
Venturing out to see her almost a dozen times, Yakowchich is amazed every time Hudson transforms into the character she needs to be on stage. “She cleans up real nice, manages to look good, dances around, and energizes the crowd,” he reports with enthusiasm.
The story of Hudson’s debut in music is a comical one. When seventeen-years-old, her mother pressured her into signing up for a karaoke competition at Jonathon B pub, neither of them imagining she was concealing a hidden talent. That night she won first place and, “me and singing have been history ever since,” Hudson recounts. Since then she’s performed in various bands throughout the years, karaoke contests, and currently a side project, in addition to her main act, POWERPLAY.
Her primary band’s historic matchup met at Schoolcraft’s School Daze when Hudson’s vibrant vocals seized the attention of her to be band mates. After swaying them with karaoke singing, lead guitarist Mike Smith, drummer Mario Resto, (Both of whom have been playing for years and in national acts) and bassist Dave Tatro asked her to join the lineup, which hasn’t changed since her addition in Dec. 2011. “All four of us sing so you get a little of everyone, not just one voice all night,” Hudson added.
The band performs a variety of music spanning across all genres and decades. Classic rock like Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin, Bad Company, and The Rolling Stones is played alongside contemporary jams such as Pink, Adele, Evanescence, and Bruno Mars. Every song is delivered with high energy sound and concert grade equipment.
Hudson is also involved in a side project called the Taste Buds with Chef Chris Misiak (mandolin), Master Chef Jeff Gabriel (acoustic electric), and her stepfather Bill Sweeting from food services on the drums. “The Taste Buds are more of an acoustical nice mellow coffee house type, very pleasant and easy listening music. We’re all original and contrast the style of my other band,” Hudson states.
Keeping busy all year round, POWERPLAY has recently played at notable gigs in the metro Detroit area. Venues include the Livonia Spree, opening for Collin Raye, Milford Memories, Bay-side in Walled Lake and most recently Bricks in Northville.
Even though Hudson might have the talent and personality to pursue a full-time career in music, Yakowich doubts she will ever give up her job on campus. “She just enjoys working here too much and has too many friends,” he states. Whether singing on stage or toiling in uniform, Hudson already has a permanent occupation; lighting up the lives of everybody she comes across.
Check out the talented April Hudson singing in the band POWERPLAY at a recent performance in Northville, here: