2013-10-04 / Front Page

From the Vatican to the S. C. State Fair with Foreigner

By Cathy Cobbs

Kelly Hensen with Foreigner 
Photo by S. Schweiger Kelly Hensen with Foreigner Photo by S. Schweiger Rarely do you associate the classic rock band Foreigner with Hammond School’s acclaimed, globe-trotting select ensemble, but on October 11, the two groups will share a stage and a song.

Foreigner, which has 16 top-30 hits like “Feels Like The First Time,” “Cold as Ice,” “Juke Box Hero,” and “ Waiting For A Girl Like You,” along with 25 members of Hammond’s choir, will join together on one of their most wellknown songs, “I Want to Know What Love Is,” at the South Carolina State Fair. Hammond Choir Director Steven Hillard said his students are “over -the-top” excited to be performing with the iconic band.

The Hammond ensemble in 2013 performed for Pope Benedict XVI at the papal mass and the evening mass on New Year’s Day in Rome, but Hillard said they are just as thrilled to be singing with the members of the classic rock band, which still has a robust tour schedule with their new lead singer Kelly Hansen.

The Hammond School Select Ensemble performs at the Vatican The Hammond School Select Ensemble performs at the Vatican Tom Gimbel, who plays lead guitar, flute, saxophone, and “anything else I can lay my hands on,” said inviting a choir to sing at Foreigner concerts is one of the highlights of their set.

“It’s just a great feeling, being on stage with these singers,” he said. “I love seeing our music being listened to by whole different set of ears.”

Gimbel said he believes the availability of their songs on classic radio and the Internet has opened the door to a new generation of fans, children who actually appreciate the songs that their parents loved.

“In general, kids have never liked the music their parents enjoyed, but, for the first time, that hasn’t happened with this generation,” Gimbel said. “At the concerts, I see little kids on their parents’ shoulders, singing along with the music, and it’s really gratifying.”

Members of Foreigner: (l-r) Michael Bluestein, Mick Jones, Kelly Hansen, Tom Gimbel and Jeff Pilson 
Photo by Bill Bernstein Members of Foreigner: (l-r) Michael Bluestein, Mick Jones, Kelly Hansen, Tom Gimbel and Jeff Pilson Photo by Bill Bernstein Gimbel joked the kids might not have completely picked up on the nuances of Foreigner, often confusing “Juke Box Hero” with “Juice Box Hero,” and shouting out “Dirty White Bears,” instead of “Dirty White Boys.”

Those classic songs, probably pronounced correctly, are what will be performed at the October 11 concert at the fairgrounds, Gimbel said.

“We don’t really do any new stuff,” he said. “Just performing our top 20 songs takes up most of the night.”

Gimbel insists he and the band, which includes founding member Mick Jones and “insane” lead singer Hansen, aren’t tired of performing each and every classic hit.

“I honestly still love every one of our songs,” he said. “Kelly, who is out of his mind in a good way, really connects with his audience.”

The night is also about helping spread that love of music throughout the United States. Foreigner will donate $500 to Hammond, and the members of the ensemble will help sell CDs that night at the fair. Those proceeds will go to Foreigner’s charity partner, the Grammy Foundation, which works to keep music education as part of the core curriculum in America’s high schools.

Hillard said he hopes to direct the $500 donation towards the school’s fall initiative focusing on breast cancer awareness and research. On the same night as the concert, the school will be celebrating “Pink Out” at its football game by collecting money and selling baked goods, and Hillard said he would like to see those funds be contributed to the final total.

The South Carolina State Fair opens Wednesday, October 9 and runs through Sunday, October 20. The Band Perry will kick off the festivities that first night at 7 p.m., followed by Foreigner on Friday. The Temptations will take the stage on October 19.

Members of the 2013-2014 Hammond School Select Ensemble

Sarah Adams
Emma Ehreth
Maddie Rae Fram
Chapman Giles
Megan Hooks
Ellie Locke
Rachel Metts
Anna Penland
Rigby Philips
Abigail Reddic
Frances Sadler
Katharyn Taylor

Megan Ballew
Savannah Carter
Katie Caskey
Clara Castles
Marguerite Courie
Alexa Cox
Liddy Grantland
Maggie Herring
Aiyanna Johnson
Caroline MacGillivray
India Narciso
Ivy Noojin

Henry Augenstein
Jacob Burger
Ayan Dasgupta
Kendale Hemingway
Salters Kneece
Austin Lewis
Henry Long
Bristow Richards
Sean Trahan
Alex Wessinger
Stanley Wong

Garrett Ayers
Donald Fawcett
Brad Lewis
Stephen Lynch
Harrison Magee
Kelvin Obioha
Toni OgunFowora
Cody Sim

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