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Sharing a love of singing

Sharing a love of singing

At choir fest, groups celebrate vocal music


Of the News-Register

Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga couldn't have pleased young McMinnville and Lafayette singers any more than the Mac High choirs that performed just for them Thursday morning.

The youngsters, gathered in the MHS auditorium for the school district's annual choral festival, applauded wildly for the Symphonic Choir, Sterling Jazz and the Twilighters. But they clapped for more than just the sound - they also cheered for their role models and their own musical future.

"I want to be a singer. I love singing. It's my life," said Jordan Bailey, a fourth-grader from Memorial Elementary.

She's already racked up extensive musical experience. She's been singing "for longer than I can remember"; she played Lucy in the musical "Narnia" at Gallery Theater; and she is preparing for a role in Gallery's spring show, "Seussical."

She love all kinds of music and many singers, she said. She doesn't have a favorite song, though.

"There are so many good songs," she said. "I haven't found them all yet."

On Thursday, Jordan stepped up the mic for a solo in her school choir's performance of "Follow the Drinking Gourd." Raising her voice in song in front of an auditorium full of people didn't faze her one bit.

"It was a great experience. On stage I feel so expressive. It's somewhere I can be me," she said.

Jordan and the other Memorial singers took turns on stage with choirs from Sue Buel, Columbus, Grandhaven, Newby and Wascher elementary schools. They sang traditional songs and newer songs, serious songs and funny songs.

Grandhaven singers signed as they sang "Imagine." Columbus students snapped their fingers to the swing beat of "Dancin' on the Rooftop," trading lines such as "shoobie doobie doo bop" and "do rickey do rickey do rickey" with the recorded sounds of a big band.

The Sue Buel choir fooled the audience by starting what sounded like a traditional yodeling song, then turning it into a yodel rap. "Yo. Yo-de-le-hee who?" they asked, dancing like robots.

The combined choir from Patton and Duniway middle school's followed them, with more complex arrangements of "Ava Maria" and a traditional spiritual.

The high school choir members said they loved hearing the children sing. And for the middle school and elementary students, the high schoolers were definitely the headliners of the concert.

Youngsters listened raptly as the Symphonic Choir sang a piece in Latin, with half of the singers on stage and others in the wings. And they smiled and moved their bodies during the Twilighters and Sterling Jazz performances - especially during the scat solos, such as those in a fast-charging version of "Over the Rainbow."

Shali Rake, who is in both Symphonic Choir and the Twilighters, was happy to be able to share her music at the district festival.

"It's so cool we get to sing for the kids," she said.

The Mac High junior has been singing since she was 13, when she tried emulating Ella Fitzgerald, one of her role models. On Thursday, she stepped up for a solo and shared a duet with Nate Engberg during one of the Symphonic Choir numbers.

While she loves singing, Shali said choir offers more than just music. "It's like a community, a family," she said.

Alex Justice, who sang a solo line in the Sterling Jazz rendition of "Night and Day," recalled attending the district choir festival when he was in middle school.

"I was always amazed at how good the high school choirs were. They were really inspiring," he said.

A lifelong music lover, Alex was eager to join the choir program himself when he reached Mac High.

"Now I'm up there in front of the younger kids. I hope it's as inspiring to them," he said.


Sharing a love of singing

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