January 27, 2014

PHS, Willsboro students compete to sing with Foreigner


PLATTSBURGH — Choral groups from two local high schools have entered a radio-station contest to sing onstage with the band Foreigner.

The Plattsburgh and Willsboro groups have submitted videos of themselves singing Foreigner’s 1984 power ballad “I Want To Know What Love Is” to the WIZN-FM website. A high school chamber choir from Essex, Vt., has also entered the contest. Based on online voting, one of the three will be chosen to perform with Foreigner at the Flynn Center in Burlington on Feb. 16. In addition, Foreigner will donate $500 to the winning chorus program.

Bill Verity, choral director at Plattsburgh High School, said his Select Vocal Ensemble is excited about the prospect.

“I told the students the contest was happening and asked if they were interested,” Verity recalled. “They were psyched to do it.”

The winning group will perform the gospel chorus part of the song “I Want To Know What Love Is.” However, Verity said, “there was no a cappella arrangement, so I wrote one.”

Walker Gosrich, a senior at PHS and member of the Select Vocal Ensemble, recalled Verity texting everyone to confirm their vocal range while he was writing. That way, his arrangement could showcase the group to the fullest extent possible.

Verity had his own memories of the song, but wondered whether his students would know the Foreigner hit.

“It was quite an anthem for me when I was in high school,” Verity said. “But they weren’t born when it was around.”

 However, he was surprised.

“Miraculously, they did know it.”

Gosrich explained that students who are into music listen to more than just contemporary hits.

“A lot of us really like the ’80s music and the ’70s music, so a lot of us already knew and liked Foreigner. We were really excited to be able to actually take part. We didn’t grow up with it as much as Mr. Verity did, but it really means a lot to us.”

Verity said, “it’s moving to see the students embracing a song that is a memory for me.”

The Willsboro group is also excited about the contest, said Jennifer Moore, music teacher at Willsboro Central School.

“They wanted the challenge. Rock is a language that speaks directly to where they’re at.”

She did have to give some of the students background information, though.

“Their first response was, ‘Who is Foreigner?’ I went straight to YouTube and showed them the music, and talked about how influential that music was to people of my generation.” As they got into discussing the contest, Moore added that the students were thrilled and approached the task with “energy and enthusiasm.”

Moore believes the school’s active theater program, in which most of her chorus students are involved, has helped with the performance.

“They were able to step into character and go for it.”

Geordie Hearn, a junior at Willsboro Central School and chorus member, hopes his group wins.

“We would love to have the opportunity to sing with a great rock band.”

And there is a chance that one of these local high school chorus groups will have just that opportunity.



Videos submitted by the high school choral groups can be viewed at:

An alternative link is: Voting for your favorite at: Returning visitors may vote multiple times