From AV Press August 19, 2013

Chorus knows what love is  By: Craig Currier

LANCASTER – The Antelope Valley Showcase Chorus barely had two months to prepare for what had to be the group’s biggest and most prominent performance ever.

Fortunately, they had just four lines to sing.

When Foreigner started into its famous chart-topping ballad “I Want to Know What Love Is” Saturday night at the 75th annual Antelope Valley Fair, 22 chorus members lined up just offstage awaiting their cue.

Just before the song’s familiar refrain, the Antelope Valley Showcase Chorus walked on stage and joined Foreigner in front of about 11,000 cheering concertgoers.

“It was, oh my gosh,” group member Kira Wagner said. “It was the biggest audience we’d ever performed for.

“It was phenomenal to actually be on stage with them and see them up close.”

Throughout its summer tour, Foreigner has recruited local choirs from its various stops to help them sing “I Want to Know What Love Is.”

In most cases, though, the local groups are booked many months in advance.

For the Antelope Valley Fair concert, some confusion turned into an opportunistic moment for the Antelope Valley Showcase Chorus.

Wagner said she received a mass email one Friday evening in June from a band promoter who was searching for a choir in the Lancaster area to perform with Foreigner.

“I’m going, ‘Yeah right, this has got to be some kind of joke,'” she said.

Wagner was told the group’s initial attempt to find a local choir never went public and the band was making a second effort to do so as the concert date neared.

Within a few hours Wagner responded with a resounding yes, solidifying the big moment for a long-standing yet relatively unknown Antelope Valley choir.

“We had people coming up to us afterward going, ‘I didn’t know there was a chorus in Palmdale,'” Wagner said. “That to me was really one of the biggest things, getting the name out there for any nonprofit is the hardest thing.”

The Antelope Valley Showcase Chorus is an all-female group that was formed in 1960 as a chartered member of Sweet Adelines International, a worldwide educational organization with more than 25,000 members.

The group was originally known as the Antelope Valley Chapter, then changed its name to Harmony Showcase in the 1990s before switching it to the Antelope Valley Showcase Chorus in 2011.

Days before Wagner received the email about Foreigner’s concert, the group had secured Alan Paul of The Manhattan Transfer to be featured at a local masters singers workshop next spring.

“We decided that the Antelope Valley Showcase Chorus has been here for over 50 years and the majority of the population here has no clue who we are,” Wagner said. “So we are going to do something different and I knew that there was going to be a decent price tag with it.”

When Foreigner confirmed it would perform with the Antelope Valley Showcase Chorus, the band also offered a donation to the nonprofit group.

“It was cosmic,” Wagner said.

After accepting the invitation, choir members practiced singing the song’s chorus at the start of their regular meetings.

On Saturday night, 22 of the group’s 32 members arrived at the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds for the performance.

They started gathering around 4:30 p.m. They helped distribute information about Foreigner’s involvement with the GRAMMY Foundation, which raises money to promote music and arts education.

When the concert started, the chorus group members moved inside to watch the show. When Foreigner launched into its hit “Juke Box Hero,” the members moved to an area behind the stage preparing for their moment.

“When you’re on stage you’re looking right in their eyes and it was incredible,” Wagner said.

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