Alabama All-State Choir


I’m en route back to Indianapolis, via Delta rather than Northwest, thanks to flight delays.

The last three days have been spent in Tuscaloosa at the University of Alabama leading the Alabama All-State Show Choir. (Note: when one says “Roll Tide,” one is greeted with many others saying “Roll Tide” rather reverentially, very much like one “Amen” is echoed with others saying the same thing.)“Twitchy” Barrett and the bosses.

This all-state event has been the single most satisfying clinic/workshop/special event I’ve ever led in my career. The kids were primed and ready. They sang well from the beginning, and better and better as the two days of rehearsal went on. They made laugh more than I made them laugh. They were gracious and warm and thoughtful and honest.

Shawn teaching some ABBA dance steps.We’d reserved some extra time last night for rehearsal. By early afternoon we knew that we had the show in hand, so we gave them back that time. In fact, Shawn and I were able to spend about 20 minutes on Friday afternoon just talking with the kids about life, work, connections, synergy, community.

Without a purposed attempt to do so, we helped the kids to something more than a musical experience. These students–from all over Alabama–experienced something communal, something spiritual. I spoke to them yesterday about making life better for all concerned, about leaving the world a better place than they found it. Something in that seemed to resonate. They hugged more. They talked even more with students from other schools. Today, during our hour off between on-stage rehearsal and performance, they just laughed and made noise, and took pictures, and exchanged email addresses. These simple acts told us that we’d accomplished the real goal of an all-state choir: a group of musicians coming together in service of something outside of themselves.

And then there was the performance, a rousing, energetic, smile-filled set with energy to spare and some wonderfully nuanced singing. The music never did wear old, although I don’t think I’ll be doing any ABBA again soon. The other songs were classics that I’ll sing again any day:

  • Blow, Gabriel, Blow (its arranger, Greg Gilpin, stopped in for a bit of rehearsal);
  • Our Time by Stephen Sondheim, a perfect ballad that is just IT for this kind of event, and one that could be used for graduation or any kind of celebratory rite-of-passage moment;
  • Little Boy Lost, a stunning, bittersweet ballad that was my personal favorite of the show.

Shawn Eck was aShawn, me, and Jessica Johnson before the show. joy to work with. He and I complement each other well in both personality and understanding of our roles. And our nightcaps in the hotel bar were happy bonding times.

I go home happy and satisfied, anxious to return to Alabama, grateful to Vivienne for calling on me, and more aware of the power of music to change lives.

Roll Tide.

6 thoughts on “Alabama All-State Choir

  1. Roll Tide!! haha Thank you so much for being our clinician this past weekend at Alabama All State Show Choir. You and Shawn were such a blessing to have help our choir learn and grow together. Every bit of this blog you wrote was true. I hope you two will be able to come down again in March for our performance!

    Your favorite left-half Asian, (haha)
    Katie Graves

  2. YAY!! you’re anxious to come back!! mission accomplished! i’m so glad that you enjoyed yourself almost as much as me! we’d love to have you back anytime!

  3. Thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to work with you. Your talks lifted my heart and inspired me to stick with this business. Music has always been more than just an art to me, and this weekend you made it larger than life. Everyone from Lee has been talking about how inspirational you were to all of us, and on behalf of them, and everyone else in the show choir, thank you again.

    Roll Tide,
    Bobby Becher

  4. Dr. Carter,
    I cannot say thank you enough. You made this experience so much more than I could have imagined. You have truly made an impact upon my life and I am so thankful for spending such an amazing weekend with people who love music as much as I do. Thank you so much for EVERYTHING!

    PS- I will be sending pictures soon!

  5. Well, I’ve already written you on your facebook (that’s a little odd saying…:)) but when I read this I just had to write again and say thank you thank you. Reading this made me so happy because it’s so true!! I had such an incredible time. I just never knew that something like All-State Show Choir could be so amazing. It was beyond my wildest dreams. Thank you so much for being such a big part of it!

    (war eagle…sorry)
    Helen Marchman

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