03/16/2016

Foreigner Featured in The Tribute Democrat

Cambria Heights High School choir to sing with Foreigner

As Foreigner performs “I Want to Know What Love Is,” on Wednesday night at Cambria County War Memorial Arena, the local faces will sing backup vocals for a once-in-a-lifetime performance. 

Students in Vocal Extension and Synergy, two audition-based choral groups from Cambria Heights High School, were busy Monday rehearsing one of the band’s most well-known songs after winning a radio contest last week that earned them the gig. 

Of six local choirs that sent in recorded performances of the hit song to Key 96.1, Cambria Heights earned the most online votes. High school music teacher Michael Kokus said his students got even more excited about the opportunity after sharing the news with their parents, many of them Foreigner fans.

“This is a big deal,” Kokus said. “I think it makes it relevant to the kids, doing something like this. And it gives them a glimpse into the professional music world, even if it’s for a moment.” 

John Lappen, marketing director for Foreigner, said the band started involving local high school choirs on tour about seven years ago to help raise awareness about the Grammy Foundation’s efforts to restore music and arts programs to schools with budget cuts.

“Foreigner believes very deeply in giving back to the younger generations,” Lappen said. 

So far, the band has incorporated local choirs into more than 500 shows in North America. Each choir, which is limited to 25 members, arrive before the concert to help sell Foreigner’s greatest hits album to concert-goers and the proceeds benefit the Grammy Foundation. So far, the band has raised close to $1 million through the CD sales, Lappen said. 

Along with a $500 grant to each participating school, Lappen said the performance of “I Want to Know What Love Is,” is the peak of the concert that the students and director get to be a part of. 

“That’s a terrific moment for the kids,” Lappen said. “It’s certainly a highlight — no question. It’s something they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.” 

Kokus said he’s proud of his students, who aren’t taking the occasion lightly.

“They’re just really stoked about the opportunity,” he said. “They’ll remember this for a long time.” 

Foreigner will take the Cambria County War Memorial Arena stage at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Limited quantities of tickets are still available for purchase through Ticketmaster at www.warmemorialarena.com.

Original Article - ​Jocelyn Brumbaugh is a reporter for the Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter @JBrumbaughTD.

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