now browsing by tag
It’s the night before the Inauguration and I didn’t sleep for a minute. I literally stayed up all night filled with emotions. I was nervous, excited, scared, and so many other things.
At 3 a.m., I decided to get up and start getting dressed for one of the best days of my life. By 4 a.m., I was in the bus, quiet as a mouse.
The ride to D.C. was probably the smoothest it has ever been. There weren’t too many on the streets but that changed drastically as soon as we hit Massachusetts Avenue. The street was flooded with people holding the American flag inching their way closer to the Capitol Building.
When the choir was finally dropped off, we had to rush over to the Dirksen Senate Office Building.
We then were held in a room for about an hour. During this time Dr. Green conducted warm ups, we took bathroom breaks, and we even got a complimentary breakfast.
Then, it was time.
Upon our arrival, the Brooklyn Tabernacle and P.S. greeted us with warm smiles.
As I sat down, I could not believe the millions of people that were standing in the National Mall. The strip literally went on for miles.
Within ten minutes, a sudden uproar went on throughout the risers.
Somebody yelled, “It’s John Legend!” With a black coat and a dark pair of shades, Legend walked up to his seat on the right side bleachers with his fiancée. Immediately after, Katy Perry arrived along with John Mayer.
Now it was time for P.S. 22 to present their set. The director looked really happy as they opened with Phillip Phillips’, “Home.” After a few songs they were done.
The announcer called for Lee University, and as we rose, my whole body began to shake, then freeze.
Shake, then freeze.
A Brooklyn tabernacle choir member whispered,
Y’all better sing!
We first sang “This Land,” and we could hear the people behind us were amazed with our vocal ability. Our whole set was 16 minutes long, but it literally felt like 16 seconds.
Nothing went through my mind while we were singing. It was almost like I was like I was in a trance. After the countless hours of rehearsals and the extra rehearsals, it was all done.
I sat down, and I was just filled with emotions.
I immediately thought,
I just sang in front of millions of people. This will never happen again.
And as I sat behind President Obama, I could not help but smile (and shed a tear.) I was just a part of history. This is a story I can tell my grandchildren about every time I see them.
What I have just done was monumental.
While listening to Obama’s speech, a quote stuck with me: ” We will support democracy from Asia to Africa; from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom.”
This struck me because he proved that this was not only about America, but it also was about the rest of the world.
I would like to give a special thank you to everyone that followed me along this journey. I hope you enjoyed it. God bless you and God bless America.
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.
January 19, 2013.
Only one word can describe today: LONG. Well, let’s make it one more: UNFORGETTABLE.
My day started off at 9 a.m. when I got up and got dressed for the day.
I decided to test out my new pea coat that I was given.
As I got on the bus, I was expecting to have a very short trip to Washington.
I was sadly mistaken. What should’ve been a thirty minute drive turned out to an almost hour-and-a-half drive.
There were cars everywhere!!! My educated guess is that D.C. was so congested because of the inauguration (go figure).
Once we finally arrived in Washington, we were dropped off at the Smithsonian and were given about six hours to explore and enjoy ourselves.
The first place a group of my friends decided to go was the National Holocaust Museum.
After visiting there, I truly have a new found love and respect for anyone that was involved. The Holocaust was one of the darkest eras in history.
Afterward, we met up with a friend’s friend who lived in the area. She took us on a “journey” on the metro (subway) in order to get some food. The metro was actually one of my favorite things to do because I just love being underground and going really fast.
The funniest part was that out of all 13 of us young adults, only one did not have to struggle to buy a ticket from the machine. I guess you can say we’re a bit technologically challenged.
After we ate, we went shopping at Forever 21 and H&M. By then it was about 5 p.m., and we had to be on the bus at 5:30 p.m. The only issue was that we were way across town.
We literally had to run to catch the bus so that we wouldn’t get left behind. If anyone is wondering, we did indeed make it.
Just when I thought my day was over, I was quickly reminded that we had a quick rehearsal.
I honestly wanted to cry at this point in time.
Throughout the the rehearsal, I was plagued with a major headache. Unfortunately I didn’t have any medication for aid.
When the rehearsal was finally over, I received a call from an old friend.
She said, “Get ready I’m on my way. We’re gonna get some dinner.” I was über excited, but at the same time I felt like bricks were being pelted at my head.
Long story short, we had a great time.
And if anyone out there cares, yes, my head is STILL pounding. But I guess that’s what happens when you’re living life in the fast lane.
Well, I think it’s about time I’d get some rest. We have sound check tomorrow, and I’m positive it’s going to be another long day. Wish me luck :)
Rushawn Walters is our music columnist and a member of the Festival Choir singing at the U.S. Presidential Inauguration. This post combines Rushawn’s most recent two posts.
Well its about 5:30 p.m., and we’re still on this COLD bus.
We left around 8:10 a.m. and drove up to Roanoke, Va., for lunch.
Everyone was provided a little box from Chick-Fil-A which was quite delicious. Afterward, some of us enjoyed a mini-snowball fight.
Through the 10 hours that I’ve been on this bus, I’ve managed to sleep for about eight. The other two hours consisted of coloring (don’t judge), eating, making friends and playing games.
As the sky continues to get darker and darker, my excitement swells up within me. My mind races about all the activities we will be doing, the people we will meet and the history that will be made. I’m off to sleep some more. Until next time!
WE MADE IT!!!
After a quick gas stop and two hours of full blown traffic, the Lee University Festival Choir has made their destination of Double Tree Hotel in Silver Spring, Md.
Once getting off the bus, there was complete chaos as students scrambled through out the building finding their rooms and looking for nice spots to find some dinner.
Once I got situated, a few of my friends and I went to a burger joint called Fuddruckers in Chinatown. It was my first time, and I must say it was an awesome experience. If you ever get the chance to go there, I would recommend ANYTHING.
Downtown Silver Spring is not exactly what I expected it to be. Before coming here, I assumed that it was a quiet city where a lot a rich people live.
Well, I was wrong.
It turns out there is a nightclub across the street named Grits & Biscuits. I was amazed to see a long line of anxious young people waiting around the block.
I quickly thought, “We’re not at Lee University anymore.”
Downtown also consists of restaurants, department stores and even a skating rink.
Tomorrow we will be exploring Washington D.C. as a group.
I’m a little excited. I say little mainly because I’ve been to D.C. before, but I’m hoping that this will be a new experience since I’ll be with friends. Hopefully I’ll see some celebrities.
Tomorrow should be a day I’ll never forget :)
Rushawn Walters is our music columnist and a member of the Festival Choir.
Well, it’s almost 2:30 in the morning, and I am wide awake. My eyes are burning, but my body won’t listen.
After a long day of dodging hail, classes and a community wide concert, you’d think sleep would be the best thing to do.
Nope, not for me.
Right now I’m just laying in bed listening to music and, at times, gazing at my luggage hoping that I have everything.
The bus leaves at 8:15 a.m., but we’ve been told if we’re not there by 7:30, there’s a huge possibility we’ll get left behind.
At this moment, I’m beginning to think excitement is what’s keeping me up.
When the senator of Tennessee came to Lee to announce that we were singing at the inauguration, I was one of the few students in the Conn Center that didn’t go crazy.
This is because I had already made up in my mind that there was no way Lee University would have me sing.
So often people would say to me,
You really can’t sing,
You always switch the keys.
After those comments, I just never thought myself to be good enough.
When I finally saw my name on the list, I couldn’t believe my eyes.
I initially thought it was a joke. But my excitement quickly dwindled down when I found out that 20 students would be cut and be deemed ‘alternates.’
Such a term is to be dreaded in the music world because you basically have to put in just as much work as a main part, but you’re not guaranteed anything.
But as I lay here in my bed at 2:29 a.m, I am greatly proud to say that,
I will be going to the Inauguration!!!