Star Staff Reports
When Foreigner’s current tour stops in Memphis, they’ll feature Memphis music in a very special way.
They will have the Munford High School Advanced Choir accompanying them live on stage.
The choir won the band’s “Sing with Foreigner” contest, where one lucky high school joins the multiplatinum band onstage to sing together. Foreigner, who will be appearing September 20th as the final concert in this year’s Live at the Garden series, has been offering this contest on each of its tour stops over the last five years. Classic Hits 94.1 KQK partnered with the band to promote the contest, a part of Foreigner’s charitable work for the Recording Academy’s Grammy Foundation. The band will also be making a donation to the choir program as part of their arts education advocacy. Munford choir director, Peter Colin, Jr., says “it’s so great to see the music industry reach out to music education in this way. Experiences like these are what connect students to music and the arts.”
It’s another exciting performance for the MHS Advanced Choir, a 36-member group extracted from the 162-member MHS choir program. This concert comes on the heels of their Carnegie Hall debut this past Easter, and adds to the choir’s impressive resume over their 67-year history.
“This sort of musical dexterity, going from Brahms and Rachmaninoff to rock and pop is more than just fun for the kids, it’s a lesson in how versatility allows you to thrive in not just the music business, but in life, period,” said Colin, who himself is a member of the Recording Academy’s Memphis chapter and appears professionally as a trombonist in the city.
The contest was announced Aug. 16. Colin learned of the contest during the school day. The next day, the choir met for four hours to learn and record Foreigner’s classic anthem “I Want to Know What Love Is.” On August 30th, online voting began for the final submissions, which pitted Munford against Briarcrest Christian School’s OneVoice vocal group. Voting ended Sept. 3, and a panel of judges selected their choice to be the winning choir. Munford amassed over 3,000 votes and were announced September 4th as the winner live on 94.1.
“The kids really showed their diligence throughout the process,” adds Colin. “To give up their Saturday for rehearsal, to blitz their social media circles to promote the voting, is proof of their passion for their music.”
“I’m very lucky to teach them.”
Colin, himself an alum of the choir, has been director since 2009, and also co-directs the school’s national champion band. The choir already has its own full performance schedule which includes its annual Christmas Spectacular, a Black History concert featuring opera singers and MHS alumni Todd Payne and Ebony Preston, and a Justin Timberlake revue in May. That concert is notable because Timberlake’s maternal grandfather was a member of the school’s first choir. Colin says “I’ve read many interviews where Justin cites his grandfather as a pivotal musical inspiration for him. How appropriate is it now for these kids to in turn be inspired by Justin, and celebrate his music as members of the choir where his grandfather performed and studied music all those years ago.” Information about the choir and its concert series is listed at www.munfordchoir.com.
Senior choir student Hunter Doo says he’s excited “to sing with professional musicians who’ve sung all over the world. Usually it is opera or classical music, but I can’t wait to be onstage and see the huge crowd rocking out with us and Foreigner. I’ve heard them on the radio all my life; this is an amazing opportunity for anyone.”
“I admire Foreigner for their commitment to music education,” Colin said. “We’ve seen the collaboration between music education and the music business does wonders for all involved. Whether it’s the work of Soulsville, the Justin Timberlake Foundation, or Sing with Foreigner, it has a lasting impact for these kids. I hope more opportunities like this become available across the board.”
Foreigner: Live at the Garden featuring the Munford High School Advanced Choir is Friday, Sept. 20. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., with the concert scheduled to start at 8. Tickets are available through ticketmaster.com.