AP NEWS

T.J. choir to sing with Foreigner July 14

June 30, 2016 GMT

MIKE BELL

MBELL@nonpareilonline.com

It was near the end of the school year when Travis Walker, director of the Thomas Jefferson High School Choir, got a call from Los Angeles.

”I was like, ‘Whoa? Who?’” Walker recalled with some inherent disbelief.

But it was true: The rock band, Foreigner, holder of such hits as “Juke Box Hero,” “Urgent,” and “Cold As Ice,” wanted the T.J. choir to come on stage with them during their show in Council Bluffs to help lead singer Kelly Hansen perform “I Want to Know What Love Is.”

The show will be at Stir Cove at Harrah’s Casino on July 14.

Bringing in local students isn’t a new practice for the band. Walker learned Foreigner typically puts out feelers are put out for local choir groups, often from high schools, to help come sing with the band.

Hansen, the band’s vocalist, told The Daily Nonpareil reaching out to choir groups was more than just for the show. He said it was about raising awareness for music programs, too.

”When budget cuts occur in schools, the music program usually suffers first,” Hansen said. “So we raise awareness when we can.”

The looks on the 25 high school students’ faces when they perform in front of a concert audience alongside Foreigner, usually invokes some memorable faces, he said.

The Thomas Jefferson choir will receive $500 from Foreigner. In return, the choir will help sell CDs at the concert, with all monies raised going to the Grammy Foundation.

Hunter Gibson is a senior at T.J. and president of the choir. Singing since middle school, Gibson was a little perplexed at first when Walker told him the news.

”Who is Foreigner?” he remembered saying. “Then I figured it out – ‘Juke Box Hero’ – and was like, ‘Oh, my god.’”

Hansen said most of the youngsters eventually recognize the songs because of their parents.

Preparing for singing with Hansen does not have Gibson worried.

The song is simple and easy to catch up with, Gibson said. However, facing that large crowd will be new to him, he said.

”I’m nervous, but I think it’ll be a great experience,” Gibson said. “Our choir hasn’t done anything like this before.”

Walker echoed that statement, recalling how some Omaha school choir students recently sang with a famous singer and how jealous he was.

”Now my kids get to sing with Foreigner,” Walker said. “So there’s that.”