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Fairmont High School Prepares for A Cappella Fest

On Saturday November 12th, Kettering Fairmont High will host the 4th annual A Cappella Festival.  These events are springing up around the country but Fairmont believes they are blazing the trail.  Brody McDonald is the Choir Director at Fairmont - a job he's held for 13 years. The job has its challenges.

"The biggest thing is making sure everybody is in the right place, because kids have all different ability levels, different backgrounds," says McDonald.  "So we're very happy about having two entry level choruses - the men's
chorus and the women's chorus.  Those are what we call 'y'all come choirs.' Any kid in the high school can do that.  Then we have an audition Chamber Choir that's guys and girls. Then the after school groups are really select.  There's eight kids in Eleventh Hour and 16 in Fusion, so there's a place for everybody."

McDonald says the Fairmont music program is not only accessible for kids, but it allows for the individual experience.

"Music is different for every kid.  We have a wide variety - pleasure singers, kids who are going to become music teachers or go into performance.  We also have kids interested in the production side of the industry.  So they all get an experience, an education in whatever they want to do," says McDonald.

Kettering's A Cappella Festival began 4 years ago.  Brody says it's grown from 5 groups then to 25 groups from 4 states.  Fairmont's celebrated 11th Hour and Sonos will perform.  Both groups have been featured on WYSO.

"Tons of Energy"

Fusion is one of the Fairmont groups that will be performing at the festival.  At a practice session this week, they run through a mike check with the Assistant Director of Choirs, Alex Phan.

Phan also teaches the Women's chorus at Fairmont, and music at Kettering Middle School.  Just as the festival has progressed, Alex says Fusion has come a long way in the 4 years he's been teaching here.

"When I got here I was told this group did about three numbers a year," says Phan.  "Now at the beginning of our season we've got eight or nine, and by the end of the year we'll probably have eighteen or twenty.  These
guys lead a rigorous schedule and learn a variety of genres, hip-hop, rock, pop, blues & R&B.  The whole gamut."

Fusion is a fusion of 16 voices.  The kids gather around a piano on stage in the Fairmont auditorium - They're having fun, while listening to what their teacher has to say.

"This is something they ramp up since the beginning of the year on, so they're ready for it from the git-go.  Tons of energy," says Phan.

"It makes me completely happy, it's what I want to do with the rest of my life," says Anna Crabill, a senior at Fairmont who joined Fusion as a freshman.

"This is actually the first big solo I've had since I've been in the group and I just love the song.  It shows the
voice I've had deep inside of me for the longest time and I'm finally letting out this huge voice and everyone's like 'where did that come from. It's great to show that and I'm proud to perform at the A Capella Festival," says Crabill.

"I wanna do that!"

Sam Bodary is a junior with an unusual talent.  He describes it as, "Just making drum noises with my mouth."

Bodary began considering music in the eigth grade. 

"My sister was in a music group and I saw this kids doing this, and I was like 'that's cool.  I wanna do that!' So at the beginning it was just a lot of bad noises, and really embarrassing.  It's not particularly useful for anything other than this but it's cool that I can be here with friends and do this," says Bodary.

What's also cool is the excitement and enthusiasm these kids bring to the stage.  Multiply that by the 400 plus students who will raise their voices in song and it adds up to a high energy weekend for Kettering Fairmont High's A Capella festival on November 12th.

Jerry Kenney was introduced to WYSO by a friend and within a year of first tuning in became an avid listener and supporter. He began volunteering at the station in 1991 and began hosting Alpha Rhythms in February of 1992. Jerry joined the WYSO staff in 2007 as a host of All Things Considered and soon transitioned into hosting Morning Edition. In addition to now hosting All Things Considered, Jerry is the host and producer of WYSO Weekend, WYSO's weekly news and arts magazine. He has also produced several radio dramas for WYSO in collaboration with local theater companies. Jerry has won several Ohio AP awards as well as an award from PRINDI for his work with the WYSO news department. Jerry says that the best part of his job is being able to talk to people in the community and share their experiences with WYSO listeners.