by KATHERINE HOITT
Mississippi Boychoir helps kids drop their phones and SING
Just about every week of the school year, a group of boys and young men get together for an hour and a half. They put away their homework, unplug from their social media, peel their eyes from their cell phones, drop their problems at the door. And what do they do? They sing! I have the distinct honor of leading the Mississippi Boychoir in their music-making, and I want to give you a glimpse into our world.
Thanks to the efforts of our founder, Margaret Thomas, the Boychoir came to exist in Columbus, Mississippi, in 1995 — a much different time in the lives of our youth. In just the past 25 years, our country has seen major changes in the way that children communicate and experience the world around them.
When the Boychoir began in 1995, we were dealing with Nokia bricks and Motorola flip phones that couldn’t hold your attention for more than five minutes, and most kids didn’t even have one. Now most of our children own a smartphone and can stare at a 4.7-inch screen for hours and never get bored. How do we compete with that?
There’s something about music, though, that keeps them engaged. There is an electric energy that flows between humans when they sing together. It’s why we have done it for thousands of years. It’s why we sing when it is someone’s birthday, and why we can’t go on a road trip without that perfect playlist. It’s also why the Mississippi Boychoir has stood the test of time, and the children of this new generation still want to call it home. Being in a choir gives these boys a purely real, human experience in a world where so many things are constantly competing for their attention. They are able to unplug from whatever issues they are having at home or at school, and truly connect with others through singing and creating something together.
The infectious love of choral music that the Mississippi Boychoir fosters in its members does not just go away when they graduate from our organization and go on to live their adult lives. Some alumni become music educators or performers, while others go on to thrive in career fields that are seemingly unrelated to music. Even so, the lessons learned and character traits absorbed here in Boychoir are manifested in their lives, work, communities and relationships throughout their lives, no matter what professional direction they take.
We encourage Boychoir members to stay involved in the music world even after they leave us, and many do. However, sometimes life gets in the way, and this is not possible for every alumnus.
We are thrilled to announce an exciting alumni event where our boys can meet and perform with the boys and men who came before them. Past members of the Mississippi Boychoir family will have the opportunity to relive some of their Boychoir memories, and our audience can enjoy a performance by our choirboys of both past and present. You won’t want to miss this milestone performance in the life of the Mississippi Boychoir. Join us at St. Columb’s Episcopal Church on May 16 as we celebrate 25 years of musical excellence and fellowship. Please visit msboychoir.org for ticket information.
Katherine Hoitt, artistic director of Mississippi Boychoir, holds a bachelor’s degree in vocal music education and earned a master of music in choral conducting from the University of Southern Mississippi. In addition to her position at Mississippi Boychoir, she is choir director at the Academy of Innovation in Vicksburg.