CHAMPAIGN – A few weeks ago, the students of the Centennial High School choir released Youtube videos of the group Foreigner.
They hadn’t heard much about the 1970s band before.
But they liked “Jukebox Hero”, they decided. Good thing too.
Early Friday morning, those same students learned that their school choir was the winner of a regional competition for the chance to take the stage with the band during their June 23 concert at the State Farm Center.
âThere were screams out loud,â said choir director Marian Wyatt. “Then they took their phones and texted their parents, then came Snapchat and Instagram.”
The Centennial students beat out 10 other choirs, who also joined in sending performance music videos for the chance to join the band on stage during “I Want to Know What Love Is.”
âI think we were all thinking, in the back of our minds, but we just didn’t want to count our chickens before they hatched,â Wyatt said. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
It didn’t matter that Foreigner was an unknown band to many students – it was a chance to be on stage, to perform in front of a larger crowd than normal.
âI’m not going to lie; I only knew one song,â freshman Meika Cramer said. “I liked it a lot.”
Cramer was among a handful of freshman girls who said they hadn’t planned on joining the choir until this year, but found themselves struggling with nerves to play with. the Grammy nominated group.
âI expected to have concerts in the auditorium, but I didn’t know I would sing with famous people,â Cramer said.
And there’s a little extra pressure for Anna Miller, who said she’s horny, but also nerves fighting.
âMy stepfather knowsâ the band members, she said. “Like, I’m really nervous. Not a little bit – really.”
His stepfather, John Martin, who has been on the central Illinois music scene for 39 years, said he knows people in the band, but it’s Miller who is truly the awesome of the family. : Martin has been following the group since he first saw them. in 1981 at the age of 14, but he never “fell out with them” or been on stage with them like Miller and other students are fortunate enough to be.
âI mean, she’s doing something that I haven’t done, and I’m 37 on her,â he said. “She will remember this for the rest of her life.”
Not all of the 150 students of the Centennial Choir will be on stage on June 23: Wyatt said they need to reduce it to 25 students. The shrinkage will be the hardest part, she said. “There will be no problem” in finding students willing to go on stage.
Regardless of who does, Martin said he hopes all students “savor” the opportunity when it presents itself.
âFor me it’s huge – I don’t know if they realize how huge it is,â he said. âUntil you’re up there, I don’t know. When you’re up there the lights hit you and you can’t see past 40-50 rows. – that’s a lot of people. , so like I said, they just don’t know how big it is. â
And how important is the Centennial Choir’s victory to 30-year-old veteran director Wyatt, who will be retiring at the end of this year?
âIt’s just the icing on the cake,â she said.