Foreigner and Shakopee High School Choir collaborate to try to discover what love is

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Do we really know what love is? Is it large amounts of chocolate? Is it a little fat guy with wings and an arrow? Is it my healthy, safe obsession with Jessica Alba? Or how about the love of music and live performance from a high school choir in Shakopee?

On Friday night, the classic American band Foreigner -- who have sold over 80 million records worldwide -- is playing to a sold-out Mystic Lake Casino Showroom, and they asked for a little help on one of their biggest hits, "I Want to Know What Love Is," the famous '80s power ballad that has been covered by such artists as Wynonna Judd and Mariah Carey over the years. They enlisted 25 juniors and seniors from the Shakopee High School Concert Stage Choir, directed by 26-year-vet Mike Kovic. How and why did this happen?

You can imagine a "School of Rock" feel with this group of kids. Their teacher, a huge Beatles fan who flip-flops between Paul, John, and George as his favorite (senior Hannah Ward was a fan of Ringo, go figure) -- mixes in current pop and contemporary along with the classics to keep the kids and audiences interested and engaged. 

Think these kids' voices will crack under pressure by backing up one of their parents' favorite bands? Think again. These teens performed with Kenny Rogers last winter, and have been all over Europe -- most recently in 2012 with a gig in Spain. They plan to conquer Italy in 2015. Since 1993, they have achieved a Superior Rating 60 times from the Region 2AA Minnesota State High School League. That reign is equivalent to Eden Prairie High School's football dominance during the same time frame. Very impressive. This is a seasoned, talented, and very bright group of kids who perform up to 10-plus concerts per school year.

Most of the kids have plans after graduation to continue to pursue music, with most choosing colleges with choir programs. Senior Sophia Haase currently performs with a Trampled by Turtles-inspired folk/rock band, so she might go the First Avenue route. 

Talk about a tight deadline: The students just got back to school from summer break this past Tuesday, were told about their surprise gig on Wednesday, and had a whole three class sessions to memorize and nail the song in time for Friday night's performance. I know major-label artists who couldn't handle that pressure. 

Photo by Lars Larson
Back Row: Michael Kovic, John Nguyen, Ryan Kockelman, Hannah Ward, Kelsey Lucas
Front Row: Dannick Boyogueno, Sophia Haase, Eve Burdick
As for Foreigner, they have partnered with the Grammy Foundation to support its mission of maintaining and restoring music education in America's public schools, and raising awareness about the importance of music as part of each child's complete education. 

It's no secret that the downturn in the economy over the years has hit education hard, and one of the first things to get the slashing red ink is arts and music. That's why as part of its charity initiative, Foreigner is donating $500 to the Shakopee High School Choir to use toward its program to help with trips, concerts, and even small things such as concert rope. 

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