Younger Verde Valley Voices

Photo by Helga Freund

MUSIC-minded teens Brittany Smith, Katie Sesow, Josh Arthur and Marlana Porter.

The chorus is preparing for its annual Christmas concert and the teenagers are thrilled to be part of the upcoming performance.

All have “music in the blood,” according to Marlana Porter, a sophomore at Mingus High School, and at 14, the oldest of the four. It’s not only singing; she was only 12 when she joined the high school band where she plays the flute and cymbals. Her parents have promised her a bass guitar and one of her dreams is to play in a band.

Brittany Smith, a freshman at Mingus High, was the first of the four to join the chorus, encouraged by her piano teacher, Beverly Hall, who’s also director of the choir. Already Brittany displays considerable talent for music. She’s been singing since she was 8, plays the piano, alto sax, guitar, piccolo and flute. She’s dreaming of attending Julliard or Berkley and having a career in music, promising, “I’m going to be famous!”

Mingus High School freshman Katie Sesow moved to Cottonwood from Oklahoma only last January, and couldn’t wait to get involved in the local music scene. Her singing career began at the age of 4, when she sang a duet in a Christmas pageant, and continued in church choirs. Anxious to carry on with her music after moving here, she heard about the Voices through her grandmother and happily joined the group. Being blind is no impairment to Katie, who learns all the music by ear. She also plays the piano and hopes to join the high school band, where she’d like to play timpani and guitar.

Fellow high school freshman Josh Arthur claims this is the first time he’s used his deep bass voice in “an actual choir,” although he’s been singing in his church since he was about 7. Josh, who also studies piano with Bev Hall, is the only one of the four not aspiring to a musical career. He already knows he’s going to study medicine and become a plastic surgeon. But, he adds, “If I stay in the area I’m definitely going to continue to sing in the chorus.” This comment was seconded and heartily endorsed by the others.

What do these teens bring to the Verde Valley Voices? According to director Bev Hall, “They bring much joy, enthusiasm and youth to the choir. They’re so bright and lend so much to the group, which reflects a broad spectrum of the Verde Valley – business people, housewives, retired people and the kids – they’re a blessing to each other and to me.”

And what is it that attracts the teens to the group and inspires such devotion?

“The fun songs,” pipes up Marlana, who personally leans toward rock and jazz.

“Yeah, a lot of cool songs,” adds Brittany, elaborating, “the rest of the chorus is older, but they’re a lot of fun and they teach us. And everyone loves Bev.” Katie just “loves the chance to sing another tune,” and Josh likes the end result, “singing in a concert and making beautiful music.”

The Verde Valley will have the opportunity to enjoy some of that “beautiful music” on Sunday, Dec. 21, when the Verde Valley Voices Community Choir presents its annual program of the sounds of the Christmas season at 3 p.m. at Verde Baptist Church in Cottonwood.

Judging by past performances, this is a must-do event that’s sure to be enjoyed by all. The concert will have lots of old familiar Christmas songs and several unique variations on old favorites. As an additional treat, the Voices will be joined by the Mountain View United Methodist Church’s Chapel Bell Choir and the Cottonwood Community Band.

Tickets to the event are only $5 each and are available at the following locations: Built Upon the Rock Christian Book Shop in the Fry's Shopping Center; Canyon Ridge Hair Care, 3400 E. Godard Road, in Verde Manor; Verde Floral in Old Town Cottonwood; Planet Video in the Safeway Shopping Center; the Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce; and Nancy Davis' Piano Studio at Verde Baptist Church, 102 S. Willard St. Tickets can also be purchased from any choir member, and will be

available at the door before the performance. But best not to wait; you may find standing room only!

For anyone interested in becoming part of this Verde Valley treasure, the Verde Valley Voices Community Choir will be beginning a new session on Tuesday, Jan. 6, when they’ll be starting on new music for its spring concert. They meet every Tuesday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Pine Shadows Club House.

For further information on joining this inspiring chorus, contact Madeline Shires, publicity chair, at 634-8756.

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