As cameras rolled and tapes recorded, the burgundy-clad students clapped, danced and sang with accompaniment from their three teachers, parents and music hall workers.
“I feel like we’re famous now,” 8-year-old Rashaud Drake said during a break between songs.
“(I was) scared at first but it actually feels good to be out in a studio recording a CD,” fifth-grader Makayla Jackson said shyly.
Anniston Mayor Vaughn Stewart said the recording session, paid for through the city’s Education Innovation Fund, is a way to recognize the hard work the students and teachers have put into the choir.
“It’s just as much for us as it is for them,” Stewart said. “We’re all about motivating and encouraging young people.”
The choir started in 2007 as a component of Fine Art Thursday, an arts program at Cobb Elementary where teachers can volunteer to teach students creative writing, music, drama and art on Thursdays after school.
Under the supervision of fourth-grade teacher Susan Grimes the choir has since performed at venues including the Freedom Riders Dedication Ceremony in August and the 2012 event at which Anniston’s City Council and members of the board of education were sworn into office.
Grimes used to manage the choir by herself, using recordings for the group’s musical accompaniment. She said she’s grateful that Derrell Calloway and Mashonda Tucker came along four years ago.
Calloway, a fifth-grade teacher who accompanies the students on the piano, said he thinks allowing the choir to record its own CD is a good thing because it gives the children an outlet.
“A lot of time funding is low, so music classes aren’t available at the elementary level. It’s an opportunity not many of them have had the chance to do,” he said.
Calloway said the songs chosen for the album were based on the likes of the community and the likes of the students. The song list includes 10 classics such as the “The Star Spangled Banner” and “What a Wonderful World,” written by Robert Thiele and George David Weiss and made famous by Louis Armstrong.
Though coughing, paper rustling, and the students paying attention to their conductors proved to be challenges, the songs were recorded by the afternoon.
Tucker, who teaches third grade at Constantine Elementary, said she volunteers to help out with the choir because children need exposure to the arts and because she loves “her babies.”
“It’s just passion,” she said.
Staff writer Madasyn Czebiniak: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @MCzebiniak_Star.