By the Way

Four school choirs are in the running to sing with Foreigner

By JEFF CLARK

jclark@sunherald.com

Arts and music programs are some of the first to be cut when budget adjustments are made. And that is a shame.

Music and art have always been such a huge part of my life. I remember being a small child and listening to AM radio and hearing songs such as “Suspicious Minds” by Elvis, The Carpenters ”Top of the World,” “The Most Beautiful Girl” by Charlie Rich as well as songs by ELO, Chicago and numerous others.

I also remember my music classes in elementary and middle school. It was there that I learned about Frank Sinatra as we had to sing “High Hopes,” as well as the music of Stevie Wonder, Perry Como -- the list is endless.

I was in first grade when I decided it would be a good idea to sing “Rhinestone Cowboy” in my music class’ talent show. I mean, who better to tell the tale of a lovelorn, cynical country musician trying to make it in Nashville than a 6-year-old?

I wish I could say that I learned my lesson, but just a few years later I was singing Kenny Rogers’ “Coward of the County,” a song about sexual assault and revenge, in another talent show. Eventually, I quit touching the proverbial stove and gave up the talent show circuit.

Music in schools seems to be alive and well in South Mississippi as at least four local music programs are trying to get to the next level. And that level is performing in front of a sold-out crowd at the Hard Rock Live with the rock band Foreigner.

Poplarville High School, Ocean Springs Upper Elementary School, Nativity BVM and Hope Academy of Gulfport are all contenders in the “Sing With Foreigner” contest.

One of the schools will sing “I Want to Know What Love Is” with Foreigner on Saturday, April 23 and they will receive $500 for their music program. It’s a pretty sweet deal on any level.

Imagine what it will feel like to sing one the biggest songs of the 80s in front of a large crowd with a well-established rock band. I would think that it would be a big self esteem booster for the children in the choir. It will be something that the winners will never forget.

And what music program couldn’t use $500?

To vote for the choir of your choice, go to sunherald.com and click on “Vote for your choir to sing with Foreigner.” You must the video of your choice or choices in its entirety for the vote to count.

Support arts and music in education by voting before 5 p.m. Thursday.

-- Jeff Clark is a staff writer for the Sun Herald.

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