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Local students will sing back up for Foreigner

June 3, 2012

Foreigner's backup singers will seem more than a little recognizable when the classic rock group performs "I Want to Know What Love Is" at Shellabration.

Vocalists from Fort Dodge Senior High and St. Edmond High School will take to the Oleson Park Bandshell stage in what has been become a tradition at Foreigner concerts.

Not only do students sing on stage with the iconic rock band, they also raise money for their schools.

For the past three years, Foreigner has recruited high school students to sing the chorus of the band's No. 1 hit and donates $500 - in this case $250 each - to the music departments of the high schools represented.

"We're very, very aware that with the budgetary crises hitting the whole country, schools in particular are feeling the pinch and, really, the music departments are just really feeling it," said Foreigner bassist Jeff Pilson.

As the self-described product of a public school music program, Pilson said he feels strongly about helping out.

"This is very dear to my heart," he said. "We are doing our best to try to raise money for these music departments and at the same time give these kids the thrill of a lifetime. Watching them sing up there is so much fun, and it's fun to be a part of. There are some great choirs coming out of it, and it's a win-win for everybody."

In addition to donating money to the students' schools. the choirs also sell a Foreigner CD-DVD live set before and after the show.

A portion of the money raised from the CD sales goes to the Grammy Foundation, a charity with which Foreigner is affiliated.

"It's really a great opportunity in many ways, " said Joe Svendsen, choir director at Fort Dodge Senior High, who added that more students volunteered to participate than could be allowed on stage. The choirs are limited to 25 students.

While the school appreciates the monetary donation, Svendsen said part of the reward for his students is the opportunity to help raise money for the Grammy Foundation. That, in turn, helps underfunded school music programs throughout the country.

"We get to help fund a charity that allows other students in other places to have a better music program," Svendsen said.



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