If you tuned in to “The View” on Jan. 20, and you might have seen some familiar faces.
Student choirs from Krieger Schechter Day School of Chizuk Amuno Congregation and the Cardinal Shehan School raised their voices in song during a special episode of the ABC program on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The two choirs traveled to New York City by bus the previous week to tape the performance for the program honoring the legacy of Dr. King.
They sang Diana Ross’ “Reach Out and Touch Somebody’s Hand” and John Lennon’s “Imagine.” Billy Porter, special guest and Emmy award winner, joined them for the second song.
“There are different pathways to uniting populations, but music is the one we chose,” said Erika Schon, choir director at KSDS. “When you bring voices together, you create something stronger than yourself.”
Before they sang, 14-year-old Krieger Schechter student Harrison Fribush, wearing a kippah, explained the background of how the two choirs wound up working together.
“I wanted to do something in Baltimore, where I could change people’s lives using my passion for music,” he said on the episode. “So I came up with the idea of uniting two completely different choirs through the power of music.”
KSDS and Cardinal Shehan began their partnership in 2019, after Fribush had the idea to collaborate.
“Last year, one of our students, Harrison Fribush, [at the time] a seventh grader, had a visionary idea for a bar mitzvah project,” Schon said. “Cardinal Shehan had been invited in 2017 to ‘The View.’ They sang ‘Rise Up,’ which catapulted them to fame. This is how Harrison became aware of them and suggested partnering with them.”
The administrations of both schools were enthusiastic about the concept, so the Cardinal Shehan choir visited KSDS. The two choirs, by working and singing together, got to know each other.
“Today, people are really segregated and do take differences into account and look at the outside of the person instead of the inside of the person,” Harrison said.
They recorded their performance together and posted it online, where it “got tens of thousands of hits,” Harrison said. Then, “The View” reached out.
“‘The View’ reached out to us in the spring of 2019,” Harrison said, “but Whoopi got pneumonia and everything got cancelled around three days before we were scheduled to go up on that Friday. But after continuing on in the fall, ‘The View’ reached out to us again to do the story on a national platform.”
The Cardinal Shehan choir had been on “The View” in 2017. But for the KSDS choir, which has 33 students in fifth through eighth grades, this was their first time performing for a television audience.
“There was definitely pressure, because we really had to get the message out there,” said Natan Golding, a choir member and eighth grader. “As it got closer, we had more and more rehearsals at the Cardinal Shehan School, and we started to feel this is really good.
The episode, as well as the initial collaboration that led to it, shows how music can bring people together, Schon said.
“At the heart of this is a wonderful, talented student body who are dedicated and committed to excellence,” Schon said. “The students worked hard, and they were rewarded for their efforts with this fabulous day in New York.”