By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Professional sports like the NFL and NBA hold their annual drafts in New York City.
And the one common question for the athletes who attend is, ‘Are you ready for the big stage?’ New York City is known at the site were athletes, actors, performers and singers go to “make it.” On April 2 the Millington Central High School Chorale took the big stage of Carnegie Hall performing five songs under the direction of conductor Jeff Murdock.
“It was a lot of pressure at first but once we got up there and started singing, it was pretty much like home,” MCHS singer and senior Shelby Swift recalled. “It was pretty much simple after that.”
Simple was the last word the MCHS students would use to describe New York. Once the group of 25 students landed, they saw a different pace of life.
“It was real busy,” MCHS singer and senior Cazzie Foster said. “A lot quicker than the South. I came back and it felt so slow.”
Foster acknowledge his heart rate matched or surpassed the fast-pace of New York City with the challenge of taking the Carnegie Hall stage ahead of the Chorale.
But before the Chorale performed its concert, the members got a chance to warm up their voices around “The City That Never Sleeps.”
“We performed at a restaurant,” Swift said. “All of sudden we did an impromptu. We did some singing on the sidewalk of Time Square.”
“Even in the subway we drew a crowd,” Foster added. “We sang Happy Birthday to somebody.”
With their nerves calming down, the Chorale arrived to the legendary venue.
“The outside was big,” Swift said. “But the inside, seeing all the seating and all the people who had been there, that was the scary part. Then all lights and the stage itself. But it was awesome.”
Foster, who was a four-year letterman in football for the Millington Trojans, said once he saw pictures of music legends like Stevie Wonder and Memphis’ B.B. King, he knew it was time to take the ball and run.
“It was a clutch moment,” he recalled. “I felt I sing better than I ever sing those songs and pieces. That’s what brought the pressure knowing that so many great artists performed before you. And we got to stand on that very stage.”
Foster said it was the Millington and Memphis area community that made it all possible. For months the Chorale conducted fundraisers trying to reach the $60,000 goal in order to reach Carnegie Hall.
Millington’s talent got the Chorale selected, but it took donations from local businesses, churches, organizations and private citizens to get Murdock’s students to New York.
“We left a good trail that Millington had been there,” Swift said. “People told us we did such a great job.
“We had to make sure we did good because a lot of people donated money to us,” she added. “We got up there and did our thing. We did really, really well. We represented great. We put the money to good use.”
New York City continues to proceed with it’s fast pace and hosting events like the upcoming NFL Draft, the NBA Draft in June and next year’s Super Bowl. But for the members of the Millington Chorale, performing on the Carnegie Hall stage April 2 was their big bite out of the “Big Apple.”
“We felt accomplished, a job well-done,” Foster concluded. “We felt so much pressure working so hard through the year. The whole year, we had a year to get ready for it. It felt like winning a championship game.”
The Millington Chorale consist of sopranos Shanythia Allen, Chabeli Brooks, Brandy Carmichael, Helena Jones and Meghan Sands; tenors Doran Arnold Jr., Cazzie Ali Foster Jr., El Paso Pitts, Carlos Reynolds, Tarielle Roberson and Shelby Swift; altos Shanelle Bultron, Marrisa Hunt, Victoria Johnson, Quanesha McKay, Kendalyn Mebane, Christiana Purnell, Joy Stewart and Justina Wakefield; and basses Devynn Brandon, Jamario Ervin, Erius Hardaway, Joseph Marcello, Corey Martin, Kylen Parker, Jonathan Patterson, Angelo Pirtle and Jontae Wiggins.