Road to the Inauguration: We Are Lee University
As expected, today was a long day. As a matter of fact, it was longer. Our day started out when we were dropped off at building to get security check. Inside, we were informed that it is where all the senators have their offices.
Once we all were done with security, we were escorted to a room where we met Lee University President Dr. Conn and his wife. While in there, we were taken to the bathroom in groups, polished a few songs and relaxed.
When it was finally time for us to walk to the Capitol, students scrambled to get in the right spot so they were ready. As the security guard led us outside, we were greeted by a family from Chattanooga that exclaimed, “We came all the way up hear you guys sing. You truly have made us proud.”
The more we walked, the more we received love from bystanders as they waved, clapped, greeted and even hugged us. This kind of treatment made me feel like a true celebrity. And I was loving every second of it.
As we approached the risers that we will be standing on a group of people were walking the opposite direction. They were so joyful and wished us luck. My first thought was that they were some random people. I have never been so wrong in my life. Behind me, I heard someone yell, “I love you Brooklyn Tabernacle!” Instantly, my heart dropped. I could not believe that I was just speaking with the legendary, monumental Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. I have their music on my iPod, and my mother owns all their albums!
We continued to finally reach the risers. As soon as I saw the Washington Memorial, it hit like a ton of bricks: This little kid from Springfield, Mass., will be singing at Obama’s Inauguration. I was reminded of time when Dr. Green explained to the choir one day, “This will be the greatest stage you will ever perform on. The only place better than this is heaven.” That statement could not be any more true. There aren’t too many people that can say they’ve sang at a President’s Inauguration, but I can and I am greatly humbled and honored.
When we finally were seated on the riser, Staten Island-based choir P.S. 22 were singing their last song. It was a stripped down version of David Guetta’s “Titanium.” The soloist’s vocal ability was far beyond her age. We were all blown away.
As she hit the last note, it was our time. We all rose excited to give a snippet to the hundreds of people in the National Mall listening from a distance. The first song we sang was, “This Land.” When we hit the last note, we were all amazed to hear our voices echo throughout downtown D.C.
We then were greeted by Tennessee senator, Lamar Alexander. We had prepared “Hymn for America,” but once we were done, it was his wife that had requested us to sing the fan-favorite “Chattanooga Choo Choo.” The Alexanders looked exuberant as we snapped and smiled our way through the classic number.
Once we finished, both Dr. Conn and Senator Alexander made a few comments about how proud and excited about Monday they were. I got the great opportunity to ask the senator a couple questions. I must admit, I have never been so nervous in my life only because I did not know this was going to happen. The only thing I could come up with was “How do you think we sound?” and “What’s you favorite song?”
He thoughtfully said,
I believe you all sound great. I knew I made the right choice selecting Lee University because you have a reputation of delivering great music. My favorite song has to be ‘Chattanooga Choo Choo.’
Dr. Conn quickly exclaimed, “That’s everybody’s favorite!”
After that we all gathered together on the risers for a quick photo op. Then the choir scattered throughout downtown to find a bite to eat. My friends and I decided to go to Union Station to get some food. To my delight, there was a Jamaican restaurant. I haven’t had any good Jamaican food since Christmas.
The pickup spot was supposed to be the Air and Space Museum, but it was impossible to get there because most of the streets were blocked off. Everybody’s last resort was to ride the metro in order to get back to the hotel. So it was only me and and my friends that got the luxury to see all of Washington D.C.
When everybody finally reached back, we were all provided a delicious spaghetti dinner provided by Double Tree. After we ate, the choir received a ‘goodie’ bag. Inside, we received a hat, scarf, gloves, hand warmers and breakfast.
We’re all supposed to be in bed by 10:00 p.m., but here I am in the hallway at 11:05 p.m. scared out of my mind. I’m anxious, excited and a little numb. I need to wake up 3:00 a.m. because we need to leave at 4:30 a.m. with our bags already packed on the bus.
For Lee University, we have been looking toward this day since early November. And that very day has finally come. Tomorrow, history will be made. Together we will be apart. It’s not only about the singers, but it’s also about Dr. Conn, Dr. Green, the other choir directors and everybody else that was involved in getting us there. Together, we are Lee University.