Junior sings in selective youth choir

VocalEssence performs with Josh Groban


Ben Sanford

Amaya Fokuo rehearses in the VocalEssence choir Nov. 19. The group of high school students rehearses every Monday 4:30-7:30 p.m. at Augsburg University. The next VocalEssence concert is at 7:30 p.m. Dec.1.

Marta Hill

What did VocalEssence do with Josh Groban?

I sing for a company called VocalEssence. VocalEssence basically got an invite from Josh Groban’s people to pick a gospel choir of about 20 people to sing backup for him.

What does being in VocalEssence entail?

It is a performing arts program for singers. We are trained as professionals, but what makes us different is that we are a more diverse group than the norm. A lot of us come from low-income backgrounds, different nationalities, some of us are even refugees. We are pretty unique (for that), but besides that we are a normal performing arts company.

What was the most memorable part of the night?

After the performance, a lady recognized me and she asked for a picture and an autograph. It was the craziest experience of my life.

What do you think others got from this experience?

We have been trained to be students who are also performers. Doing something getting to work with someone that amazing was a really great learning experience.

What does VocalEssence normally do?

Every season we have a different concert experience we are going for, so each year we add on. This year we are doing choreography, so we all had to learn to get used to having choreographers there. We put a lot of time in — it’s three hours a week on Monday nights. We have concerts all the time and dress rehearsals.

How can students get involved in VocalEssence?

We do auditions at the start of the year. You can’t audition for this season because we closed auditions at the start of October. But Dr. Philip Schultz is contracted for performances in the music department. He usually recommends people that he thinks would be a good fit for the choir.

What have you gained from being in this choir?

I gained a new sense of family. I am with these people all the time, and we learn so many things about each other. We go through a lot together.

What is your favorite part of the choir?

I work with a lot of cool people, not just my fellow co-members, but guest artists that come in, and other choirs from around the world that I didn’t even know existed. I have sung songs in Turkish, Latin and Hebrew. It has totally changed my perspective on music.

Do you have any advice for other musicians?

If you love music, do it because music is pretty cool.