CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Champaign is “Hot Blooded” and “Cold as Ice” at the same time, after legendary rock band Foreigner hit town Sunday night. The band also shared the stage with a few special guests: the Urbana High School Choir.
The choir joined the band on the State Farm Center stage for one of their hit songs. The students were the lucky winners of a contest among other Central Illinois high school choirs, and they could barely believe it when they heard the news.
Choir student Camille Spann said that she was familiar with the band that got their start in the 70s.
“I knew who they were, but they weren’t like, my top — but they were up there for sure,” she said.
The students sang the power ballad, ‘I Want to Know What Love Is,’ which was released in 1984, more than two decades before any of the students were even born. Not only did they earn a spot on stage this weekend, but Choir Director Becky Park said they’re getting $500 to help fund the program.
“We thought that was a really cool commitment that they were making to music education, and we get to benefit from it,” Park said.
Foreigner bassist Jeff Pilson said he knows the importance of school programs like choir, because he was once in their shoes.
“When there’s funding problems in schools, the first thing that goes is the music department. And that’s just so wrong, because it’s been proven that music education really helps all other areas of education,” Pilson said.
For the students, getting a chance to sing with a Grammy-nominated band is just one of the many perks.
“The reason they come to school, a lot of these kids, is to make music, is to make art,” Park said. “And if you take those things away, now you’re making it harder for them to wake up in the morning, roll out of bed and make their way to school.”
“It’s such an example of how music can be so powerful that — I mean, a lot of those kids, they don’t know who we are — but the power of the music really works,” Pilson said.
Maybe some students didn’t know of the band before this experience, but now Foreigner is a band name that they’ll surely never forget.
“I think that it’s definitely going to be in my memory forever,” Spann said. “I’m going to remember this forever, and I’m super excited.”
The band has been performing with students across the country for more than a decade, and this isn’t the first time they’ve featured a high school choir from Central Illinois. In 2019, Champaign Centennial High School also sang with the band at the State Farm Center.