CMSD All-City Choir to perform Lift Every Voice and Sing at NFL Draft


CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) — Cleveland’s local talent will be on display for the nation in just a couple of weeks during the NFL Draft.

“I felt like it was a dream, I was like oh my God, this is so huge! This is amazing that we were blessed with this opportunity,” said 11th grader at Cleveland School of the Arts Jayda Collins.

She is one of seven students who will take the draft stage live led by the district’s All-City Choir Director Dr. David Thomas.

“The NFL could’ve called anybody…but for them to like say, you know what, rather than call a national artist or an artist, let’s use these kids from the school district and I am so impressed and feel honored that they thought enough of us to be able to pass this honor our way.”

Thomas says they’ve done NFL and sports events in the past usually singing the national anthem.

But this time the choir will perform a special arrangement of the Black national anthem, ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing,’ which came as a surprise.

“When they said ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ I said that’s just unheard of, it’s just unique but then I started thinking about the times that we’re involved in and I’ve come to the conclusion that’s what it is,” said Thomas.

Because of Covid, Thomas has been working with the students online doing both group and one on one rehearsals, which comes with its own challenges. “Music and rhythm on Zoom just does not work very well.”

“Dr. Thomas does his best to make sure we’re on track, make sure we know what we’re singing and the meaning behind it,” said Collins.

But Thomas knows they’ll be ready. “Hopefully this will make them a better person and be able to strive for higher heights.”

As part of the opening day festivities — the choir will follow national acts Kings of Leon and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Ann Wilson of Heart.

Collins says she is going to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to the fullest. “Now that we’re getting our spotlight I feel like people will be able to see the talent that is within Cleveland.”

The local talent being featured includes cover band The Sunrise Jones. Thomas says the choir will be meeting for their first in-person rehearsal this Friday and they are very excited.

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