By Jess Miller
Katy Perry and Usher may have wowed the kids in the crowd at Saturday’s Kids’ Inaugural Concert, but the real stars of the show weren’t famous pop stars with hits on the radio. They were regular kids from Chicago in Walt Whitman’s Soul Children of Chicago choir.
Together with the hip-hop instrumentalist duo Black Violin, the choir performed an arrangement of “Come Together” that would have made the Beatles proud. The performance, heavy on soul and strings, had everyone in the audience, including the cameramen, swaying and clapping. Sitting all the way in the back of the room in the press box, I got chills from the amazing sounds produced by this group of (mostly) teenagers. The chords were just right, and the swing and lilt of the arrangement was on point.
I was amazed that this was a so-called “children’s choir.” They had the choral knowledge of a group of seasoned adults. Not only that, but their songs were positive, uplifting and totally appropriate for a kids’ concert. The word in the press box was that Michelle Obama herself got these kids to perform for the concert, most likely because she too was aware of the constructive content they would execute.
While I was not unimpressed by the performances of Usher, Katy Perry and Far East Movement, I remain skeptical that these were the best choices of artists to perform at a Kids’ Inaugural Concert. Usher’s performance of his song “Yeah,” which kick-started the concert, is about picking up women in the club and makes references to oral sex. The curse words and overly sexual phrases were left out, but as a fellow intern pointed out, “It’s not like those kids aren’t just going to go home and buy the explicit version of the song on iTunes.”
Even though Katy Perry’s set was all shimmer and glimmer, she might not be the type of role model for young girls who saw her in a skintight onesie and paired dancers who were more gropey than teenage boys on prom night.
I thought each artist delivered a good performance. But in terms of style, musicality and suitable content, the Chicago Soul Children’s Choir made the Kids’ Inaugural Concert a success. Thanks, Michelle.