After their kickoff concert last November where they tackled tunes off Broadway, Beth and Al Mosier’s KidSing, a youth show choir sponsored by the retired elementary school music teachers from Wakefield, took on rock and roll. The group recently gave a performance at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Reading. The singers from Burlington were Katelyn Ganshirt, Kylie Paolillo, Jillian Stevens, Christina Charmant, and Sydney and Lindsay Baxter.
Singing several big hits of the early days of rock, the 27 kids went out of their way to prove that rock and roll is here to stay. Performing songs by Danny and the Juniors, Little Richard, the Beach Boys and the Beatles, the group sang, danced, and gave some historical (or perhaps hysterical) commentary on what “a-wop bop-a-loo bop a-wop bam boom” might mean, what the Ed Sullivan shoo was all about, and what accoutrements you needed to go surfing. As Beth Mosier pointed out, R&R was guys’ music, so to keep the interest of the 25 girls in the choir, there needed to be some female singers added to the production. Numbers by Taylor Swift and Sara Bareilles added a feminine, to say nothing of a contemporary, viewpoint. (For us hardcore R&R types, what’s wrong with Connie Francis, Brenda Lee, or, if you can have the Beatles, even Petula Clark?)
Any celebration of rock and roll must feature something by the King himself, Elvis Presley, played by Ben Doucette, who arrived decked out in shades, black leather jacket and blue suede shoes. (Where do you even find these shoes today? Lansky’s of Memphis? Zappos?) I wanted to touch them to see if they were really suede, but, with the King still in them, I figured uh-uh, honey, I better lay off of them shoes.
Ben comes with an interesting link to Beth Mosier. His mother, Judy Doucette of Stoneham, was in the first grade in Malden the very first year Beth started teaching elementary school music. Beth notes that she started with simple tunes and some elementary choreography, but was surprised to hear an incredible voice coming out of the group of youngsters: Judy was singing with her whole heart and soul. Over the years, Beth encouraged her to take private singing lessons, worked with her to sing in church shows and later in community theater musicals, and prepared her for the All-State Choir when she was in high school. Judy remembers the thrill of performing in "South Pacific" with her mentor and the Colonial Chorus Players.
After six years of private study with Beth, Judy entered the University of Lowell where she majored in music education and studied with one of the same professors Beth had. Over a period of 11 years, Judy sang at weddings with Al Mosier’s band. For the last 10 years, Judy has been the cantor and director of the children’s choir in a local church. Judy’s son Ben also started his musical tutelage with Beth at age six when he sang in one of Beth’s summer Drama Shops. After such a long relationship, Beth and Judy are more like relatives than former teacher and student. Judy is grateful that Beth saw something in her at an early age and inspired her to continue in music which became such an important part of her life, and today Beth is thrilled to have in her current group Judy’s son, now 13, who demonstrates the same musical talent as his mother.
Not unexpectedly, since rehearsals for the original show started last September, many of the kids have grown. In November, the middle of the three ranks while on risers did not cover up the bigger singers. This time, however, the biggest ones had to be put on a riser to see over the crowd. The Mosiers found that not only had they grown physically but they had matured in following directions and picking up the nuances of the music and choreography.
A couple of days later, the choir performed at Longwood Place where they were pleased when the residents sang along with them. (Do these kids think that we aging rockers could ever forget the words to Tutti Frutti?) This was such a good experience that the Mosiers have decided to include something similar in their future productions as a way of teaching the group about public service and giving back to the community.