“Music acts like a magic key, to which the most tightly closed heart opens.” — Maria Augusta Von Trapp
There is an absolutely outstanding group of talented children who are making waves in the community with their angelic voices and musical abilities.
I had the opportunity to sit in a small part of a rehearsal and was blown away by these kids voices. When these kids all start singing together at the same time in unison with lots of power, it takes your breath away and brings tears to your eyes. Keep in mind, these are kids only between the age levels of 3rd grade to 6th grade!
This is the Rising Star Children’s Choir and they have an amazing “Count On Me Summer Concert” prepared for you! Their concert will be at 3 p.m. on Sunday, June 11 at St. John’s Church at 208 N. Fourth in Keokuk. The concert is free of charge. Attendees can give a free-will donation.
The songs featured in the concert will include: “Count on Me,” “America the Beautiful,” “Bye, Bye Blackbird,” “We Are the World,” “See You Again,” “Country Roads,” and “Bucket Drumming Rock and Roll.”
The Mission Statement of the group is: “The Rising Stars Children’s Choir exists to provide free music education and performance experiences that cultivate creativity, personal expression and social growth.”
Andrea Mott is the director of this choir and Sarah Vigen is the producer. Between rehearsals, finding music, writing music (drumming), keeping up with licensing rules, and performances, these two ladies work tirelessly to make this choir successful. They had a vision, and their vision is coming to fruition, with lots of work.
The theme of the show is “Count On Me,” which has multiple deep meanings to this group. All the kids in this group have come from so many different backgrounds, all wildly different, and they each struggle with something much different than each other. Yet, at the end of the day, they have learned they can always count on each other.
One of the boys in the group was born with a hearing problem. He struggles a lot from time to time, yet he relies on the “count on me” theme, knowing that his fellow group mates and his instructors are always there for him. He can always count on them. They always have his back.
This group started back in October of 2022 with just six kids. By February, they had added four and were up to 10 kids.
To add some excitement to the choir portion, they also started drumming at the very end of April. They do this using Firehouse Sub pickle buckets, which were purchased for $3 each from Firehouse Subs throughout the Tri-State area. It took quite awhile goose-chasing around to find enough buckets, but eventually Sarah and Andrea found enough. Proceeds from the pickle bucket sales go to charity.
Through all this “stuff,” everything really starts to add up, cost wise. So some very exciting news for the choir. They recently received a $750 grant from Conagra, specifically from the UFCW Local 617. Andrea says, “This will help pay for our music performance license, all of our printed music, buckets, drumsticks and bucket drumming music!” As I was in sitting with the director and producer, they were so grateful for this grant. An ASCAP license alone is $300!
Back to the kids… I asked some of the kids why they like being in this choir. Here are some of their responses:
Martaveon: Choir makes some of the best moments in my life. It’s fun, it’s cool and my director is nice. And I made a brother out of it, the director’s son.
Natalie: My friends are here, it’s wonderful, we have a great director and piano player, it’s fun and exciting, and I just love it!
Ella: We can get to know people and get to know all kinds of concerts.
Juliana: I get to see my friends, I love to sing and we learn different kinds of songs.
Kyler: You get to make new friends, learn new songs and you get to be creative.
Joseph: You get a break from life and I get some ME time.
One more question for three more kids. What is something you feel like you have learned in this choir?:
Kayleigh: Now I can go to higher and lower ranges.
Logan: I love singing even more now and I loved learning the song “A Million Dreams.”
Braxen: I’ve always had a strong voice, but I’m learning how to make it stronger. And I’ve always liked music, but I like it even more now.
Folks, this group works so hard to keep running. The kids are practicing hard, and the instructors are doing everything on their part to make things work. The greatest thing they could use is public support. Show up to their concert to prove with applause how much you love what they’re doing. And if you have the means, please take the time to send in a donation to them so that they can keep going. It would mean the world to them.
You can mail donations to: