Soundwave Sings Their Way To The Capitol

Soundwave Invited To Sing For Texas Legislature


Soundwave poses for a picture after performing in the Legislative Prayer Breakfast for Texas politicians. Multiple audience members, such as State Rep. Terry Wilson, approached the students afterwards or requested to take photos with the singers. “[A woman] told us that it reminded her of singing when she was younger,” Ferguson said. “She said she sang the same song, but a different version and that it was one of her Dad’s favorites. She was really proud and really liked the performance.” (Photo Courtesy of Kyra Cox)

Ava Callaway, Reporter

On Feb. 23, the choir went from the PAC stage with an audience of family and peers to singing for hundreds of politicians in downtown Austin. The choir ensemble Soundwave, which consists of the girls’ ensemble Seasons and the boys’ ensemble Pitch Black, was invited to sing at the Legislative Prayer Breakfast.

Assistant choir director Victor Torres conducted the ensembles on the stage of the Hilton Hotel. This event was hosted by Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives Dade Phelan with guests including President Pro Tempore of the Texas Senate Kelly Hancock, members of the Texas House and Senate, statewide elected officials and keynote speaker Dr. Tony Evans. 

Their performances started with “Celtic Blessing” sung by Soundwave, followed by “This Little Light Of Mine” sung by Pitch Black and concluding the breakfast with “I’ll Fly Away,” sung by Seasons. Soundwave was invited to represent all public schools in Texas and to bring awareness to funding for fine arts programs. 

“They reached out to the [Texas Educators Music Association] president and they reached out to us thinking that we would be a good fit,” Torres said. “As soon as we found out about it, we were on board completely.”

According to Torres, this is an unprecedented occasion for the choir department and a huge honor for the school to have the opportunity to represent the fine arts in Texas public schools.

“I think our performance really showed the caliber at which we work,” Torres said. “We have a really good music program here in this district, especially the choral arts, and they did a good job of representing the level in which we work at consistently.”

In every event Soundwave performs at, most of the audience is already aware of the songs and the students in the ensemble. Having the opportunity to sing for a crowd that doesn’t know the students is an exciting opportunity, according to Torres. 

“I really enjoyed the exposure that we got,” Torres said. “This was an opportunity for people who aren’t usually in our audience to be able to listen to the music that we make. There’s not a lot of public performances for choirs to be able to just hear things that you’re not going to hear at a regular choir concert.”

Once the choir was performing, however, the audience seemed to struggle with paying attention, said senior Olivia Alvis. According to Alvis, although she felt disrespected by the audience, being invited to perform for legislators felt significant regardless.

“My experience was not the best,” Alvis said. “I feel like we were there to respect the politicians and to represent Texas public schools and we gave them that respect and they didn’t give us the respect that we deserved. Overall, I think it was definitely a cool experience, and it was nice to be invited to something that is that big of a deal.”

Just a couple of weeks before the breakfast, the choir had five students advance to Area to sing at TMEA and were in San Antonio for four days. Since then, Seasons has been working on the show “Princess Tea,” a process that started even before TMEA competitions. 

“We’ve been working on the songs for a couple [of] months now and it was hard to get everything clean because people were gone for TMEA and Princess Tea is starting up,” Alvis said. “For us to actually pull something off like this and with it being such a big honor to be invited, we had to make sure we were ready enough to perform something like this.”

As a representative of fine arts programs across the state, Soundwave had to show their best colors for the public. According to senior Audrey Johnson, audience participation is just as important as the actual performance. 

“Seeing our state representatives ignore our performance was really disheartening,” Johnson said. “Next time a choir is invited, I hope that they make sure that they get the choir’s school name right and listen to the choir when they’re singing.”

During the breakfast portion of the morning, Dr. Tony Evans, a pastor from Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, preached a sermon to the audience immediately following a closing prayer. 

“Because it was a prayer breakfast, I was reminded of how there are people who make laws with religion in mind,” Johnson said. “Even though we’re supposed to have a division between church and state in our lawmaking decisions, there are people in positions of law making that want to include religion in their decision making. It was really impactful to be reminded of that because I didn’t think that many people actually felt that way about lawmaking.”

As a result of Pitch Black singing during the eating portion of the schedule, the audience didn’t listen to the performance, according to Johnson. Junior Jackson Whitmire sang a solo at the beginning of their song, but said he couldn’t hear a single thing that he sang. It was a result of multiple issues, such as mic placement and levels, forks clattering on glass dishware, muffled voices that drowned out the music and Christian pop music that slowly faded as they realized Pitch Black was singing, according to Johnson. 

“I would’ve liked to have done a soundcheck beforehand, maybe if we ever do something like this again just having the opportunity to work with the sound department for a performance like this, just to make sure that we are adequately heard by our audience,” Torres said. “The audience didn’t really get a cue to listen to our music and that they’re listening to a concert.”

With proper funding, students in the fine arts programs will have ample opportunities to enhance their social skills, public speaking skills and overall health, according to Johnson. Johnson has been involved in the Celebrities dance team, theatre, Seasons, and varsity choir for multiple years.

“I think this event had an impact on them, because we sounded really good and I don’t think they expected that level of talent from a high school choir and when they heard us, they genuinely looked shocked,” Johnson said.” I hope that they were reminded about how important fine arts is for students. As someone who is involved in a lot of fine arts programs, I am better at public speaking because I’m in theater. I’ve been able to speak in front of a large group of adults since seventh grade because of choir. I’m good at answering questions, I’m well spoken, I’m confident because I’ve been involved in fine arts for a long time.”