Fort Wayne's Voices of Unity choir is in Cincinnati for the World Choir Games. Here is its report:
Greetings from Cincinnati!
Words cannot describe how awesome it feels to be here in Cincinnati for the 2012 World Choir Games! As I sit here and write, I cannot help but be reminded of how awesome it felt to experience the games in China two years ago. I am excited to be able to share our story with you again, this time around, with the help of fellow Voices of Unity (VOU) member, Alex Eady!
I arrived in Cincinnati and joined the group last night (Sunday July 8, 2012), just in time to transition into the second half of the World Choir Games. I was excited to be greeted by familiar faces as I entered The Westin hotel. I was even more excited to know that we had already won a gold medal in the Popular Choral Music Competition the night before! VOU is definitely ‘defending the gold!’
Monday was a whirlwind experience. By 10:00 AM, it felt like it was already 5:00 pm! For some, the day started at 4:50 AM, which was the call time for the VOU representatives that had been chosen to sing in the Cincinnati One in Song Choir on Good Morning America (GMA)! Adult chaperones and their assistants, myself included, made wake-up phone calls to choir members’ hotel rooms as early as 3:30 AM. The rest of the group was called together at 6:30 AM. We all gathered in our meeting room, “The Atrium” of the hotel. We lined up in our distinguished, professional VOU way, and headed across the street to experience GMA, live from downtown Cincinnati in Fountain Square with correspondent Ginger Lee.
All who had gathered for GMA were wide awake and lively, considering the time of the morning. Faces were bright and ready to share the gift of song with all those watching live and at home. People were holding signs to show their pride in being a Cincinnati resident, while others chose to don costumes to show their excitement and support for the World Choir Games. When we received word that we were going live, in a matter of seconds, the crowd went wild! The One in Song Choir joined in singing “I Can,” the official song for the World Choir Games 2012, written by 9 time Grammy Award winner, Kirk Franklin. After our GMA experience, many of us joined a local dance troupe for some morning Zumba! Others learned to juggle, hoola hoop and ride a unicycle with other Cincinnati locals. Fountain Square was filled with music and excitement. The atmosphere was fun and energetic; a great way to start any day!
Our next move would be to head back to the hotel to eat breakfast. Our adult chaperones dished out nearly 100 breakfast burritos, fruit, muffins and water to all of the choir members and chaperones. We were all very hungry and tired, but tried our best not to let it show because we knew we were made for this kind of experience and had long prepared for it. After breakfast, we went to our rooms to rest. Our rest was cut short by vocal section rehearsals. The sopranos, altos, baritones and tenors each had their own rehearsal led by youth leaders. The rehearsals were just as intense had they been led by our director Mr. White, himself. We all knew what we were getting ready for, so we were all focused. “Whatever you practice you will perform, so it’s important that we correct all our mistakes now in our individual sections” said soprano Alex Eady. We went over lyrics and stage presence in preparation for the Gospel Music Competition, which is to take place on Wednesday evening. We gave each other critiques and worked together to accomplish a common goal; we want to win the Grand Champion status again and to ‘defend the gold!’
When rehearsal was complete, we gathered for a quick lunch and went to our rooms to change clothes. When we reconvened, we were all dressed up, ready to hear our band play at Blue Wisp Jazz Club in downtown Cincinnati. Our band had been chosen by World Choir Games officials, to showcase their talents in that venue. The band consists of Bryan Nellums on drums, Chris Richardson (parent of Mattei Richardson, 8, who is in the choir) on saxophone and brothers, Ken and Lance Tolbert on piano and bass, respectively. Lance Tolbert, who has been playing with our group since the early 2000s, is now a member of Pop superstar Mariah Carey’s band. He has been so gracious to make it a priority to share this experience with us and most importantly, to stay connected with us. They played an awesome set, jamming familiar tunes from greats like Ella Fitzgerald to Billie Holiday! To make the set even more special, VOU student Jocelyn Redmond, 15, took the stage and serenaded us with a rendition of Greatest Love of All by the late Whitney Houston. The crowd responded with great enthusiasm. The next thing we knew, Mr. White called: “Position!” we all stood and prepared to sing. We sang a jazzy piece by Maysa, “Can We Change the World?” It was such a fun moment!
Our time at Blue Wisp had come to an end, so we walked the two blocks back to the hotel in two straight lines. When we got back, it was time for a combined rehearsal with all of the vocal parts. We critiqued each other again, pointing out what needed to be refined, and congratulated each other for the excellent work we had been doing. When we were dismissed, we were instructed to go straight to bed and REST. Tomorrow will mostly be a day of rest for VOU in preparation for Wednesday night’s competition.
Fort Wayne, stayed tuned for what is to come! I guarantee you don’t want to miss out!