On March 23, approximately 85 young boys will take the stage at Mason Fine Art to sing before a crowd of Georgia Boy Choir benefactors and supporters.
It’s the choir’s Spring Soirée Fundraiser, and David White, Artistic Director and Conductor for the Georgia Boy Choir, said the fundraiser is crucial to the health of the nonprofit choir.
“(The Spring Soirée Fundraiser) will really help us secure the future of the choir and help us fulfill our mission of providing ordinary boys with extraordinary opportunity,” White said.
“We recognize that we have these young boys at what is truly the most impressionable time of their lives,” White said. “In addition to teaching them music, we have a strong emphasis on personal development and character development.”
On Thursday night at 7 p.m., the boys won’t be the only people in the limelight. For the second year, an adult member tied to the choir will be brought on stage to receive an award and recognition.
“A couple of years ago, it occurred to us that (we should) develop an award (to) give out to an adult member of the community who embodies all of these characters we strive to inculcate in our members — someone who is a paragon of character, leadership and excellence,” White said.
And just like that, the award found its name: the paragon award. This year, it’ll be awarded to DeKalb businessman Tom Stokes, the parent of a former boy choir member and an active supporter.
“I’ve known Tom now for several years, and he is just really the embodiment, I think, of humble leadership,” White said. “Everything he does, he does with extreme excellence, grace and good humor.”
Epitomizing White’s description of him, Stokes said he was grateful to receive the award, but he seemed to humbly shy away from putting the focus on himself.
“I know that it’s given with a lot of heartfelt appreciation, and I’m very appreciative,” Stokes said, “but honestly, I don’t really like the attention and the fuss (laughs).”
Stokes says he and his son, Thomas, were involved in the choir roughly six years ago when they were given a brochure for the choir by a church member at Chamblee First United Methodist Church where they attended.
After attending a seminar speech given by White, it seems the Stokes family found the extracurricular activity for their son that they were searching for.
“Mr. White gave a little talk and talked about what the choir was about,” Stokes said. “My wife was just mesmerized by it, and we left there … and I remember on the car ride home (she) was going on and on about (how) this is perfect and exactly what we need for our son.”
After a quick audition, Thomas was a member of the choir. White said that while the audition process may seem intimidating or harsh to some, it’s really not that demanding or tough. He added that most young boys who audition make the choir.
“The audition process is actually fairly simple,” White said. “We ask a boy to sing a song for us, but it doesn’t have to be a complicated song. Many boys sing ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ or even ‘Happy Birthday’ — just something so we can hear what his voice sounds like.”
The Spring Soirée Fundraiser isn’t the only big event the choir does all year. One of the year’s highlights includes an annual summer trip out of the country. This year’s trip will be a 16-day journey to Scotland and Ireland. (White added that many of the boys look forward to searching for the Loche Ness monster while in Scotland.)
Stokes chaperoned many of these trips while his son was involved in the choir, but one trip specifically stood out to him.
“The Scandinavia trip was extra special since my wife is a native of Helsinki, Finland,” Stokes said. “My son’s grandmother was able to attend several of the concerts … so that was extra meaningful.”
White said that trips like this aren’t possible without the Spring Soirée Fundraiser, and community support is vital for the choir’s success and growth. Tickets to the event cost $100, and it includes hors d’oeuvres, drinks and a silent auction.
White, whose boy choir career spans over two decades, said that the raw talent on display from the boys continually surprises him.
“What amazes me is with proper focus, training and encouragement, they can become great artists who are capable of phenomenal achievements, both personally and vocally, while (not losing) that boyhood innocence and joy of life.”
Spring Soirée Fundraiser
March 23. 7 p.m. $100. Mason Fine Art, 415 Plasters Ave. Atlanta. 404-402-4083, www.GeorgiaBoyChoir.org