UPDATE: We have our winners.
When Foreigner takes the stage at the Wellmont tonight, they won’t be alone. A little local talent will be joining them on stage. And they might even show the band a thing or two.
Members of the Montclair and Glen Ridge High School Choirs have teamed up to sing with the iconic 80’s rock band during the band’s performance of their classic number one hit, “I Want to Know what Love Is.”
What started as a conversation between Baristanet and The Wellmont, turned into this great opportunity. Baristanet’s Daily Editor Erika Bleiberg organized the event in a very short amount of time and tonight, she can sit back (or rock out) and enjoy what she helped bring together.
Catherine Geller, a junior at Glen Ridge High School, was the first person to get the news that Foreigner wanted to sing with them, and she was stunned. “I said, ‘What? a famous band wants to sing with us?'” She immediately tried to contact her chorus teacher, but the teacher was away on vacation. When she finally got in touch with her Choir Director, Jessica Sartori, Geller said Sartori’s reaction was “‘No way. This is crazy.'”
Sartori admits being “super excited” when she found out. “I’m a big 80’s baby.” And her play list proves it. “They’re already on my ipod,” Sartori said of Foreigner. Of course, all of her students were excited, too. “They’re thrilled. They’ve never done anything like this before.”
In this tour Foreigner is connecting with high school choirs around the country as part of their effort to bring awareness and much needed funding to high school music programs. The students participating not only get to sing backup for the legendary rock band, but they also get to take home $1000 to put toward their schools’ music programs. But the teens aren’t just in it for themselves. They will join Foreigner in the band’s partnership with VH-1 Save the Music Foundation to raise money for high schools nationwide to help keep music programs alive. The money the students raise through the sales of the band’s latest CD, Can’t Slow Down, a 3-disc set which contains the new album, a re-mix of hit songs and a live DVD from the 2009 Europe Summer Tour all go toward Save the Music. Selling the CD’s shouldn’t be too hard, though, because each one sold before the concert tonight contains a raffle ticket for a drawing at the end of the show for an autographed guitar.
Geller, who is considering a career in music and acting, knew what a great opportunity this was for her and her fellow students. “We’re a small town. We don’t get opportunities like this. We usually do Christmas caroling at the train station, and that’s big for us.”
Sartori, who came on board as Choir Director a year ago and has been working to build the program, was equally thrilled with this rare opportunity. Last year, She started out with just eight students and limited means but nearly tripled her enrollment by the end of the year with kids forfeiting their lunch period to take her class.
She introduced her students to a wide range of music, having them do a decades project that focused on music from the 50’s through the 80’s. They even got to pick a song from one of the decades and reinterpret it for their own music video. “I like to do older stuff,” Sartori said of the project. And now her students do too. “My kids are very into 80’s now.”
Sartori is supplying eight students for the concert tonight with Boyce Ennis, Choir Director at Montclair High School, presenting eleven of his finest. When both groups met up on the morning before their big debut to practice together for the first time, it seemed like the two had always been one choir.
Ennis, who ran the practice, went over the Foreigner song several times trying to find what worked best for the kids. “Is that comfortable because we could rearrange the whole thing?” he asked them. They didn’t need much rearranging. After they found the right key, it was time for a little fun. “Now let’s try to do something funky,” Ennis said. The group even did an a cappella version of the song, which the chorus might want to suggest to Foreigner. After the choir sang a few more times, Ennis ended the session with, “I know y’all liked that.”
Chances are the audience tonight will, too. Talent is certainly not foreign to these kids
The kids participating are listed below:
Rachel Sophia Kruge
Amelia Rose Parker
Giveaway: Want your own copy of Can’t Slow Down? The first two Barista Kids readers who email us their favorite Foreigner song will each receive a copy of the 3-disc set.