Show Order and Song Announcements for 17 May Freedom Choir Concert

Here’s the new show order (slightly adjusted to add Chapel of Love and Montana—which I forgot when I did this a couple of days ago). Also, we still need three more announcements. See the yellow fields below. Contact me to volunteer for the announcements.

Show Order (Updated 16 May)

  1. For His Joy—Jack Pelham
  2. Because It’s Beautiful—Jack Pelham
  3. Sur le Pont/Anne Marie Love Jean Pierre
  4. Can’t Buy Me Love (Quartet)
  5. Leave Her, Johnny
  6. Down Our Way
  7. Jack Talks about Freedom Choir and We, Montana!
  8. Chapel of Love
  9. Keep Your Lamps
  10. Encourage My Soul
  11. You’re a Grand Old Flag
  12. Yankee Doodle Dandy
  13. My Country, Tis of Thee
  14. America
  15. Montana
  16. Desperado
  17. Old Cowhand / Lone Prairie

Song Announcement Texts

Mr. Pelham will welcome the audience a few minutes before the show begins. He’ll tell everybody about We, Montana! and Freedom Choir, and our quest to raise money for the new piano. Then we’ll take about a one-minute break before the chorus takes the stage, after which we’ll begin with For His Joy, with no announcement beforehand.

For His Joy

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.  We’d like to welcome you all to this concert of the Sing, Montana! Freedom Choir.  The first number, For His Joy, is a sacred piece in the Classical style, composed by our director, Jack Pelham.  And the next is something of a theme song for us.  Composed in the Barbershop style.  It’s a short piece that sings not only of the beauty of music, but of the beauty of like-minded fellowship, and even of life itself.  We’d like to sing for you now, Because It’s Beautiful.

Because It’s Beautiful

Thank you very much.  We like to sing a in a wide variety of styles, some of which you’ll hear this evening.  Our next number is a medley of two disparate songs.  The first is an old French folk song, which tells of local dances in the village of Avignon, France on the Bridge of Avignon, on the river Rhône.  And the second number in the medley continues with the French theme.  It is the love story of Annie Marie and Jean Pierre, written in the 1960s by the Smothers Brothers.  We’ve enlisted the help of members of the We, Montana! Homeschool Glee Club and the Kid’s Choir.  They’ll be singing the folk song, as if from the bridge itself, and Freedom Choir will sing the heart-warming story:   Anne Marie Loves Jean Pierre

Sur le Pont

Please join us in thanking the Glee Club and Kid’s Choir for their help!
Thank you.  Next, we’d like to bring on a quartet to sing a number for you.  It’s a King’s Singers arrangement of a popular song by Lenin and McCartney.  But there’s a twist.  It’s been arranged in the style of an Elizabethan madrigal, and is now called, Thou Canst Not Buy Me Love.  Please welcome Jeri Ford, Sarah Hraban, Kay Pelham, and Jack Pelham.

Can’t Buy Me Love (Quartet)

For many of our numbers, Freedom Choir aims for a vocal sound that’s consistent with the American Choral and Classical traditions, but we understand that not all styles work their best with that standard sound.   Our next number represents quite a deliberate departure from this sound, as we tackle a sea shanty with a very raw approach.  Interestingly, there’s been a recent surge in the popularity of sea shanties, and this time, it’s not driven by the Robert Shaw Chorale, but from the world of video gaming and the wildly-popular, Assassin’s Creed.  We now present to you our rendition of one of our favorites, which tells of sailors leaving their worn-out ship at the end of a long and difficult voyage.  No one knows how old the song is.  All we know is that the oldest written mention of it that we know about is from 1917.  This piece features solos by Elliott Chaney, James Pelham, Sam Rollins, and Nick ChaneyWe hope you enjoy Leave Her, Johnny.

Leave Her, Johnny

Our next piece has long been one of the most popular Barbershop standards, and has been called by music theorists “a wonderful exemplar of barbershop’s most traditional stylistic features.”  Written in 1927 by Al Stedman and Fred Hughes, and arranged in 1959 by Floyd Connett, it tells of simpler times, good neighbors, common courtesy, and singing together with friends.  Perhaps you’ll notice that the sopranos, our highest voices, don’t have the melody as they would in many other styles, but are singing harmony above the melody, which is being sung by the alto section.  It has become one of our favorites, and we hope you’ll enjoy it, too.  This is Down Our Way.

Down Our Way

We’d like to have a little fun with a crowd-pleaser we’ve enjoyed singing this past year. Released in 1964 by the Dixie Cups, our next song quickly climbed the charts and spent three weeks at Number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and is still quite popular today. With its fun 3-part harmonies, it’s one of the all-time favorites of the girl-group era. And we’ve added a fourth part for our men, just to keep them from getting restless! We hope you enjoy Chapel of Love.

The Negro spiritual has long been a favorite of choral audiences worldwide.  The form was born in the dark days of American slavery, and the songs, while frequently focusing on the second coming of Jesus as a relief to the tribulation of believers, often employed a double entendre—that is, a double intent—looking forward to a freedom from slavery that they hoped would accompany a second coming.  This arrangement is by Andre Thomas, who was Mr. Pelham’s major professor.  It’s based on Jesus’ Parable of the Wise and the Foolish Virgins, but be sure to listen for hints to slavery in the line, “Children, don’t get weary ‘til your work is done.”

Keep Your Lamps

Our next number, Encourage My Soul—also called The Storm Is Passing Over—was composed by Charles Albert Tindley, who was born in 1851.  His father was a slave, and his mother free.  Tindley wrote the song in 1905, but it never caught on until it was edited and recorded in 1976 by The Donald Vails Choraleers.  We sing it for you in our own arrangement, which fairly typical of the song’s most recent decades, except that we sing it unaccompanied.  Here is Encourage My Soul.

Encourage My Soul

We’re proud to sing for you now a few traditional patriotic American songs.  Some of these are in the Barbershop style, and some are in the typical church hymnal style.  Two of them came from a king of Broadway, one came from a Harvard graduate, and another from an English professor and an organist who never met each other.  And for one of them, the tune was shamelessly borrowed—perhaps polemically—from the British National Anthem, God Save the Queen.  We hope that among them, you find one of your favorites!

You’re a Grand Old Flag
Yankee Doodle Dandy
My Country, Tis of Thee (America)

(NARRATION: During My Country, Tis of Thee)
America was born out of a troubled time, when the desires of the British Crown did not match with the desires of most in the American colonies, over which the Crown then had rule.  So the colonists determined to rule themselves—to see to it that America would be a country of her own, under the rule of righteous law, and not under the whims of yet another tyrant.  But little did she know how hard it would be to guard the guards—too see that her highest principles are maintained year in and year out.  Since then, she has had her bright days and her dark ones.  But even so, the imperfect principles she put forth at her founding still shine a light in this weary world, where so many long to have their natural rights respected, and to live in justice.  For 245 years, these ideals have given hope to the world, and hope to Americans, too. 

In any society, customs come and go over time, and one great American custom that is waning in recent generations is the public singalong. Well, we’d like to help bring that one back, and we ask you to join us as we sing America, the Beautiful. You’ll find the lyrics on the backs of your programs.

America, the Beautiful

Would you please stand and sing with us now our Montana State song, accompanied by Christina Tillman.

As we begin to bring our concert to a close tonight, we’d like to change the pace with cover of a classic from Southern Rock.  In 1968, Don Henley began to write a song that was reminiscent to him of the style of Stephen Foster.  In it, Henley would beg a stubborn friend, “Why don’t you come to your senses?”  The song sat undeveloped until after the Eagles were formed in 1972, and the songwriting partnership between Don Henley and Glenn Fry was born as together, they built the song into a class that is still popular today.   In 2004, it ranked No. 494 on Rolling Stone‘s list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.  So we’d like to feature Nick Chaney singing Desperado, with a little harmonic help from Julia and Elliott Chaney, and Mr. Pelham on piano.


We’d like to end our concert with a bit of a romp through a popular Western song.  It reached Number 2 on the charts in 1936 as sung by Bing Crosby.  It was written by Johnny Mercer, who on a trip out west, had been quite amused to see so many cowboys with spurs and ten-gallon hats, driving cars and trucks instead of riding horses.  The times, they were a’ changin’!  Our arrangement was inspired by Harry Connick, Jr.’s treatment of this song—and I am required to tell you that Mr. Pelham says he can’t hold a candle to Mr. Connick’s piano playing, but is not in the least embarrassed to steal a couple of vocal licks from Connick’s recording!  The arrangement features another gem, too.  It begins with one of the most beloved Barbershop tags ever, which is borrowed note-for-note from a piece recorded in 1955 by the Norman Luboff Choir.  The title was Bury Me Not on The Lone Prairie.  You’ll hear bits and pieces of that from the chorus throughout, along with a guest solo by our friend, Todd Naasz.  So we thank you again for coming, and we hope you enjoy I’m An Old Cowhand.

Old Cowhand / Lone Prairie

Contact me to volunteer for the announcements.