Return to Headlines

Students by day, rockers by night

Students transformed into rockers Friday, April 27, when Norman North Jazz Choir performed at Showplace Theatre with classic rock legends, Foreigner.

The band, which is currently on a worldwide tour, invites a local group each show to join them on stage for their 1984 hit “I Want to Know What Love Is.”

Norman North vocal music teacher Stephen Ziegler said the group was contacted by Foreigner’s tour manager several months ago and asked if the choir would like to perform.

“They had actually asked me last year but ended up going with Norman High,” Ziegler said.

“Since they were coming back to Norman this year on tour, they wanted to give me first dibs this time.”

“My parents were super jealous when they found out,” sophomore Jacob Grey said. “I was already a fan of the band. I knew about their music from my parents listening to them.”

Ziegler said little rehearsal took place before the evening of the show. While the group rehearsed the song in class a few times, on stage was their first time performing with the band.

“It was pretty easy, actually,” he said.

“When we got there, the person who handles the band’s merchandise and also the choirs met with us and told us when we were going to go on, how to stand, and to have lots of energy.”

The group was able to attend the show for free as well as their parents.

“We got there super early,” Grey said.

“We got to watch the show and were told to go back backstage once we heard ‘Jukebox Hero.’”

A couple minutes into the song “I Want to Know What Love Is,” the jazz choir made their grand entrance, filing onto risers in the middle of the stage, between the keyboardist and drummer.

Towards the end of the song, lead singer Kelly Hansen joined the choir, having them and audience do a sway.

For junior Addison Baker, her experience during the performance was a little more hands on.

“Their management told us ahead of time how everything would work and that they would pick one of us out of the group to come strum the bass player’s guitar at the end of the song,” Baker said.

“He [the bass player] kept looking at me throughout the song so I had a feeling I would get picked.”

Baker confidently ran down the steps and joined bassist Jeff Pilson, where she wildly strummed the last few chords of the tune. After a fist bump to Pilson, Baker rejoined her classmates on stage.

“I was definitely living it up,” Baker said.

Ziegler said Hansen had a message for the audience.

“He basically said to tell your superintendents and tell your legislatures not to cut funding for the arts because it is important,” said Ziegler.

“For the band, it was about having students up there so they can show people what these kids can do and tell people to keep supporting music education.”

Junior Ely Rex said she was grateful for the chance to participate.

“I think it’s cool Foreigner does it because it promotes what we do and gave us a chance to kind of experience what music was like back in the day.”

“I was glad we got the opportunity to do it,” Ziegler said. “And the band is still rockin.’”