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Legendary rock band Foreigner to take the stage with a local choir

Legendary rock band Foreigner has been performing with gospel choirs for many years. Tomorrow night, on Saturday, August 4, the band will head to the Greater Cincinnati area and will be joined by a special guest – the Lexington Catholic High School Choir — for a memorable performance. The concert will begin at 7 p.m. and be held at Champion Window Field inside the Florence Freedom Ballpark in Florence, KY.

Ginny McCabe

Audiences can expect an evening of singing along to all of their favorite Foreigner hits, as well as, a few new songs, from “Cold As Ice,” “Hot Blooded” and “Urgent” to “Jukebox Hero, “Waiting For A Girl Like You” and “I Want To Know What Love Is” and many more.

“For starters, Champion Window Field is a beautiful place. Last summer, when we came through, we played with Journey and Night Ranger. This time around, we are doing our own show and it is a fuller, longer set that will last about an hour-and-a-half,” said Foreigner band member Tom Gimbel (background vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards, sax and flute.) “Audiences will hear even more songs, more jamming and they will get to see our drummer do his incredible drum solo, which is a real high point. We are going to play every song that everyone wants to hear.”

One highly-anticipated highlight of the evening will be Foreigner’s performance with the Lexington Catholic High School Choir, who will sing with the band on their timeless classic, “I Want To Know What Love Is.”

“Originally, the song ‘I Want To Know What Love Is’ was backed by a gospel choir,” said Gimbel. “It is the New Jersey Mass Choir singing on the album. They were in the video. So, it was a classic moment when they were swaying in the robes and everything. For many years, on many occasions, we have had a gospel choir come up and join us.”

Through the years, various choirs from colleges and churches all have joined the band on stage for “I Want To Know What Love Is.”

“We are trying to help with VH1’s Save the Music (www.vh1savethemusic.com) and the GRAMMY Foundation (www.grammy.org/grammy-foundation), which supports and raises monies to help schools, who are having their music budgets taken away from them. We want to do as much as we can to help,” Gimbel said. “We came up with the idea to have choirs send in demo tapes and videos. And, as a result, many of them have had the opportunity to come up on stage and sing with us.”

According to Gimbel, the band has had the chance to work with many great choirs across the country and beyond, as they take the stage for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. In return, the band also sees the experience as a way to give back by making a donation to the school’s music program.

Foreigner is donating $500 to the Lexington Catholic High School Choir for appearing with them and the monies will be used to support the school’s choral program. Participants from the choir will be selling Foreigner CD’s to concertgoers before and after the show. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Foreigner’s 2012 charity partner, The GRAMMY Foundation, which raises funds for high school music programs, nationwide.

“It’s turned into this wonderful thing, where the kids come up and they sing. You can see the look of exhilaration on their faces and it is really uplifting for us,” Gimbel said. “Consistently, we’ve had some tremendous sounding choirs.”

As Gimbel reflected on his own grade school and high school years, he said he first got involved in music at an early age.

“I loved being in the school band. I had a teacher that inspired me,” Gimbel said. “I hope these kids are lucky enough to have these kinds of influences in their lives. The music teachers that I had were absolutely exemplary. They were role models and it was a huge part of my life.”

“In high school, I was in the marching band and the concert band, because if you were in one, you had to be involved in the other one,” Gimbel shared. “Back then, I was a drummer and a percussionist. But, I was also playing in rock bands as a guitarist and singer. Like a garage band on the side. It gave us something to do and it kept us out of trouble.”

Lexington Catholic High School Choir Director, Adam Beeken said the choir is excited to be able to sing on stage with Foreigner. Initially, Beeken said he received an email about an audition. About 25 choir members from the school’s 170-member choir made the trip to Florence for a recent audition. The high school is a 9-12 grade high school with an enrollment of about 800 students. Students from each of the grades participate in the choir. (During the summer, the choir doesn’t meet on a regular basis.) Locally, Grant County High School also participated in the audition.

“The audition was held at the ballpark last Tuesday, before a game,” said Beeken. “We auditioned with ‘Right Here Waiting,’ which is another 80’s song that the group had known from earlier this year.”

The choir got together earlier this week to practice the song and to talk about the logistics of the trip. “They sounded great yesterday,” Beeken said. “Everyone’s beaming with excitement. Many of the kids’ parents have eagerly bought tickets and they are ready for the performance. Our school community is also delighted about the opportunity we have…It’s really cool.”

“I want them to feel comfortable with their performance and to have a good time. I know they will. They are a good group of students,” he continued.

Typically, the Lexington Catholic High School Choir participates in about 40 performances a year. While they have done numerous collaborations, this is the first time that they have had the chance to back up a legendary rock band.

“It will be a new and interesting experience for us,” Beeken said. “I think the students are going to really get into it.”

Beeken’s favorite Foreigner song is “I Want To Know What Love Is,” which has been his favorite for a long time. Although the night’s focus will be on him, he said he doesn’t feel nervous about leading his entourage of talented singers and sharing the spotlight as they perform it with Foreigner.

The song is also included on Foreigner’s latest CD, a three-disc set, Feels Like the First Time, which features two CDs (one contains acoustic versions of the hits and the other CD contains newly recorded studio versions of the hits), and a DVD of “Live In Chicago.” The project was released from Razor & Tie Records on September 13. Feels Like the First Time debuted in the Billboard Top 200 chart at No. 43. To date, the band has sold more than 70 million albums, worldwide. Several of the band’s songs are also featured in the Rock of Ages film, which released earlier this summer.

The band’s summer 2011 tour with Journey broke records in several major cities as they played for hundreds of thousands of fans throughout Europe and North America. The band is currently in the midst of a rigorous summer tour schedule. In the spring, the band played an acoustic show at the Texas Motor Speedway to benefit Speedway Children’s Charities-Texas, which officially kicked-off the Samsung Mobile 500 NASCAR race week.

“It was the second time that we’ve played for a NASCAR event and it’s just like nothing else. The excitement in the grandstand with that many people, to hear the cars warming up and seeing them take some practice laps, it is an unbelievable feeling to be a part of that,” Gimbel said. “We were delighted both times. Even if you aren’t a racing fan, just to see those cars is a great experience. Ever since I was a kid, cars are cool. To see them in real life is really cool, so that was a treat for us.”

Doors open at 6 p.m. and Doghouse at the Parrot Bay band will open the show starting at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are still available. Tickets range in price from $32 to $58 (plus applicable fees.) Champion Window Field at Florence Freedom Ballpark is located at 7950 Freedom Way in Florence. To purchase tickets for the show, call (859) 594-4487, or stop by Bank of Kentucky Team Shop at the ballpark, or buy them online at www.ticketreturn.com. Also, visit www.foreigneronline.com for the latest news, updates and tour dates.


Ginny McCabe is an author, feature and entertainment writer from Cincinnati, OH. You may email her at gmwriteon@aol.com.

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