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AJHS show choir rocks contest

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Choir wins $5,000 and state awards

By Reece Murphy

When it comes to choruses, they don’t get much hotter than Andrew Jackson High School’s show choir.

Fresh off a state title, the choir came in first at WTVI’s annual “My School Rocks” fundraising program April 9 in Charlotte.

In doing so, the choir not only proved its mettle against much larger schools – three from North Carolina and two from Rock Hill – but walked away with the “Most Rocking School in the Carolinas” title and a $5,000 check.

“My students have been working extremely hard this year and it is definitely showing,” AJHS chorus teacher Lizzie Eargle said. “They sounded great on Saturday and they really represented AJ well.”

Eargle said each school got to sing twice during the competition with a college music professor commenting on the performance for viewers between rounds.

For their performance, the AJHS choir sang a spiritual called “Joshua!” and an a cappella version of “Someone to Watch Over Me.”

Throughout the program, viewers called in pledges for their favorite school.

AJHS Principal Mary Barry said she was proud of the school’s performance.

“Our school entertained during the pledge drive, alongside of Rock Hill High, South Pointe and three Charlotte schools, all of whom are much larger than we are and, presumably, have a bigger audience from which to elicit support,” Barry said.

“We won by these rules, but, more importantly, we were the most outstanding group participating,” she said. 

The amount the choir raised during the fundraiser was unavailable as of press time, WTVI said.  

Eargle said the choir probably won’t rush out and spend the prize money right away, but will likely use some of it to buy recording equipment so choir members can hear and critique performances. The money will also help pay for transportation and new sheet music.

“This win was great for our program,” Eargle said. “There are many expenses involved with running a successful choral program and this is going to help so much.

“This win was also great for the students, as it made them feel like they really have the support of their community,” she said.

Choir wins at state

The AJ choir also proved its worth last month in the annual State Choral Festival in Columbia, finishing in first place in the 1A and 2A Division and fifth overall.

At the festival, the Andrew Jackson choir sang an Italian madrigal called “Bonzorno Madonna,” a 20th-century choral composition called “Omni Sol” and “Joshua!”

Eargle said this was the choir’s fourth year of competing in the championship.

During the competition, Eargle said, the judges graded the choir on a host of factors, including pitch, accuracy, diction, musical phrasing and dynamics.

Eargle said the students in the after-school show choir program worked hard and deserved the win, beating schools with 70- to 80-member choirs. AJHS’s show choir has 25 members.

“With all these Kershaw kids, the hardest part was making sure they didn’t sound like they were singing country,” Eargle said, laughing. “But they did great. It was an exciting day.

“They worked really hard,” she said. “They’ve been working hard to improve themselves as musicians and they obtained it. They deserve it.”

Barry said the pieces the choir selected for the state competition were difficult and said the school was thrilled they could compete against much larger schools for a state title.

“Their performance is a tribute to their hard work and the teaching talent of Ms. Eargle,” Barry said. “We are so proud of our students.”