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Bright future: Natchez High quartet excels at competition

Brittney Lohmiller / The Natchez Democrat — Members of the Natchez High School quartet Damien Henderson, from left, Nehemiah Ford, Cordrion Tucker and Oronde Watkins competed in a district choral event and were awarded a superior rating after performing “Bound for Jubilee” and “Brothers, Sing On.”
Brittney Lohmiller / The Natchez Democrat — Members of the Natchez High School quartet Damien Henderson, from left, Nehemiah Ford, Cordrion Tucker and Oronde Watkins competed in a district choral event and were awarded a superior rating after performing “Bound for Jubilee” and “Brothers, Sing On.”

NATCHEZ — Four Natchez High School students were pitch perfect during a district choral event earning a superior rating and a trip to the statewide competition.

Damien Henderson, Oronde Watkins, Nehemiah Ford and Cordrion Tucker are the high school’s quartet group, which includes two tenor and two bass vocalists.

The quartet traveled to Southwest Community College in Summit Feb. 26 to compete in the district choral event.

Students from six schools around the state sang two songs each and were ranked with a score of one through four, with one equaling a superior rating.

Click here for a video of the NHS quartet singing

Moments before the group took the stage, the students gathered in a practice room for nearly 20 minutes to warm up.

Ford, an 11th grader, said the practice time made the students even more nervous about the upcoming performance.

“All month we had been practicing those songs, and we just couldn’t get it right,” Ford said. “Even when we were in the back room, it wasn’t sounding good, and I didn’t think we were going to do well.”

The feeling among the students changed immediately after the first note was sung.

“When we got on stage, it just fell into place,” Ford said. “I don’t know what happened, but we all just came together, finally.”

Watkins, also an 11th grader, said sometime during the group’s singing of, “Bound for Jubilee,” he knew the performance was something special.

“We just hadn’t sounded like that since we started practicing,” Watkins said. “It went really well, and I felt like we accomplished something great.”

After the remainder of the groups performed, the scores were called out, and the Natchez High School group received a one, which equaled a superior rating.

Tucker said he was excited and nervous about receiving a superior rating.

“I was glad we got the rating, but I’m still nervous because now we’re going to state,” Tucker said. “It’s going to be a lot more competition.”

Henderson, an 11th grader, said he’s also nervous about the competition, but confident after seeing what the group did during the district event.

“I was so nervous before because we just could never really get it sounding perfect,” Henderson said. “But after we finally came together, it was exciting.”

NHS choral director Tema Larry said she was proud of her students for advancing in the competition, which she said is the first time a quartet has accomplished the feat since 2008.

“I know they worked hard, but for them to bring back a superior rating was just amazing,” Larry said. “I am very excited for them to go to state, but also very nervous because when you go to state you have the best of the best there all competing for the same top spot.

“I think it’s going to push us and this program to reach this level each and every year.”

The quartet group will compete in the state competition on April 5 in Pearl.

 

 

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