Longview student earns Texas All-State Choir placement for 2nd year running
LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - A Longview High School junior has earned a place in the Texas All-State Choir for the second year in a row, after competing against 70,000 other candidates.
Lailah Johnson has been accepted for the Texas All-State Treble Choir, 5th Chair, as one of only 1,180 students to make it through three rounds of highly-competitive elimination auditions, from about 70,000 initial candidates.
Longview High School Choir Director Melody McMullen has been her teacher for three years. “It’s an extremely difficult process. It’s extremely difficult to make the Texas All-State Choir, and this young lady has done it twice,” she said. “In our choir-director world, we call her a unicorn. She has this gift from God, really. She’s blessed with a voice that is unexplainable other than just, God said that this is your spiritual gift.”
Lailah said auditioning was stressful, but she was motivated by the music. “As soon as I got knowledge that I would be able to get new pieces of music that I would be able to sing, it made me more excited. I wanted to be on the stage singing that new music, with everybody else with me,” she said.
She described the piece she used for her audition as contemporary choral classical music, in a language other than English.
“I didn’t tell my mom until I got to Longview,” Lailah said about the results. “I was very humble about it, and even now I still think it’s a humbling experience because there’s always room for improvement in my placement....People regard it as a high achievement, so I was really honored to be in that place. I was very overjoyed, and I again gave thanks to God and Jesus for allowing me to get to that place.”
McMullen said that she has only seen students succeed in placing for the Texas All-State Choir seven or eight times in her 28-year career, with the last time being around 2012.
It takes a special kind of dedication, McMullen said, noting that Lailah “knows intrinsically what it takes to achieve this high level.”
The students at Longview High School have built a unique community. “This specific school district has an immense amount of talent. My experience at Longview High School has been surprising in how wonderful the students at this campus are. They are high achievers, they are kind, they are respectful, they are talented, they genuinely care about one another, they genuinely care about the world around them, they genuinely care about making good art — whether it’s music or theater or the art department or dance — they genuinely care,” McMullen said. “I’m not sure what it is about this school, other than just that we’re Lobos, and we know that we’re going to achieve.”
McMullen estimated she received about 200 emails from the school community congratulating Lailah. Lailah’s former choir director at Forest Park Middle School also made a celebratory banner of photos and memories that Longview High School is now displaying.
Lailah’s mom, Rashida Johnson, reflected on how singing has been a lifelong passion for her. “When she was in Kindergarten, she just started singing, and her voice was always beautiful. People would compliment her, and it was just a natural gift.”
“It’s been a very good experience,” Rashida said about Lailah’s career with music so far. “She just climbs higher and higher; it’s a great thing to watch. We all love music, even from a baby, we played music when they were infants. And, we all love music, me and my husband, who were singers in our choir at church. Music has been important to us, so to see her take off and achieve with that is a great blessing. She inherited that, and it’s also a gift from God.”
Lailah said practices for the All-State Choir begin in about three weeks, on Feb. 8, then the performance is on Saturday, Feb. 11 at 2 p.m. in the CC Stars at Night Ballroom of the Henry B. González Convention Center in San Antonio. Entry information is available on the Texas Music Educators Association website.
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