The Chorus Project Features Teenagers Performing Hits by the Kinks, David Byrne, the Jackson 5 & More

The Cho­rus Project is the sort of oppor­tu­ni­ty par­ents dream about—talent-based, high pro­file, and helmed by vision­ary adults in tune with teenagers’ emo­tion­al and pre-pro­fes­sion­al needs. The select few—there are 39, lead­ing one to won­der what hap­pened to num­ber 40—range in age from 14–18. They hail from a vari­ety of back­grounds, com­ing togeth­er after school and over the sum­mer to sing, and ulti­mate­ly record, choral arrange­ments of rock and pop hits, orches­trat­ed by well known musi­cians. The 1970s Lan­g­ley Schools Music Project is a big influ­ence, as is the tele­vi­sion show Glee.

Their fresh-faced, ortho­don­tia-enhanced take on the David Byrne / St.Vincent col­lab­o­ra­tion “Who,” above, embod­ies the Cho­rus Project approach, gar­ner­ing St. Vin­cen­t’s stamp, or rather, Tweet, of approval.

Byrne recent­ly advised young musi­cans to expect that retain­ing free­dom and cre­ative con­trol means tak­ing a finan­cial hit. How com­fort­ing to find Cho­rus Project founder Lau­ren Brom­ley Hodge ennu­mer­at­ing that path’s alter­nate rewards:

 Music is a uni­ver­sal lan­guage, cross­ing cul­tur­al and income bar­ri­ers. Singing in a cho­rus cre­ates com­mu­ni­ty, friend­ship and trust. In a soci­ety where arts based edu­ca­tion­al oppor­tu­ni­ties are dras­ti­cal­ly reduced and threat­ened, this music project gives young singers the chance to learn about singing, per­form­ing and record­ing from musi­cians and teach­ers.

Cul­tur­al and income bar­ri­ers aren’t the only bound­aries music tran­scends. As one Metafil­ter user remarked after view­ing the Cho­rus Pro­jec­t’s spin on The Kinks’ “Water­loo Sun­set,” arranged by the dBs’ Chris Stamey:

Can some­one let that ado­les­cent boy singing lead on “Water­loo Sun­set” know that my six­teen year-old self called and his heart is bro­ken from the crush he’ll nev­er be able to say hel­lo to?

Because sob.

See, kids? You don’t need leather pants or facial hair to be cool!

My favorite Cho­rus Project per­for­mance thus­far is their cov­er of the Jack­son 5’s  “I Want You Back.” The puri­ty of those open­ing bars remind­ed me of high school and “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” in equal parts. I dug the cin­der blocks in the back­ground. I appre­ci­at­ed the deep look of con­cen­tra­tion upon soloist Presyce Baez’s face, as well as the cat­like, canary-stuffed expres­sion of his part­ner, Ally Copen­haver, bid­ing her time until the one-and-a-half minute mark when… leapin’ lizards! That kid’s got an impres­sive set of pipes, mak­ing it all the more grat­i­fy­ing to see her show­ing up in a sup­port­ing capac­i­ty else­where in her cho­rus’s oeu­vre.

You can enjoy more of the Cho­rus Pro­jec­t’s videos here, after which you can move to Raleigh-Durham, where project Sea­mus Ken­ney, leads a week­ly, drop-in Pop­up Cho­rus for adults.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Teens Pon­der Mean­ing of Con­tem­po­rary Art

Ele­men­tary School Kids Sing David Bowie’s “Space Odd­i­ty” & Oth­er Rock Hits: A Cult Clas­sic Record­ed in 1976

Ayun Hal­l­i­day can’t sing, but she can crank out the zines like nobody’s busi­ness. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

by | Permalink | Comments (1) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (1)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
  • Paul Petraitis says:

    re Sun­set: Now THIS is a won­der­ful arrange­ment of a clas­sic, poignant song that’s ALMOST too famil­iar to attempt…we Kinks fans often con­sid­er it blas­phe­my to cov­er a Kinks song but here, Chris you’ve done it up right…doubling them back­ground voic­es with low­er octaves, dou­bling the gui­tar solo with octaves, superb lead vocal­ist hits all the high notes with youth­ful clar­i­ty and the out­ro goes all delight­ful­ly Beat­ley! Even got the chuck chun­ka gui­tar right! So cool.

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.