I have decided after a completely unexpected comment on the blog post I wrote about my high school choir class to write a blog post about each of the teachers who made a difference to me while I was in high school. The comment made me realize that I have spent a lot of time reliving the negative parts of high school and glossing over the positive ones. Because of the post that brought this all up the first post in this series blogs goes to Mr. Jamie Kelly. Yes, Jamie is the name that was on his staff ID. I have no idea whether it was a shortening of James or not. I remember the day I met him very well, our previous show choir teacher had left to pursue her master’s degree in music and it took them at least two months to find a replacement, at least that’s how I remember it. I always sat as close to the door as I could so that I could leave easier after class. I don’t remember what our teacher was having us sing that day but I remember hearing a clear ringing tenor voice suddenly appear from the back of the class. I could tell you without turning around that that voice didn’t belong to any of the guys in my class, none of them were that polished and professional sounding. So I turned around to see who had just stepped in and inadvertently made us sound a thousand times better than we were. Standing almost against the wall roughly in the same area as the rest of the tenors was a short black haired man in a suit with a voice that I imagine would have been pure crystal if you could take sound and solidify it into something you could hold, that was my first meeting with a person who ultimately shaped my life for the better in ways I wasn’t even aware of at the time. The second memory involving Mr. Kelly that really stands out is when he covered my choir class on Halloween. He brought a tape recording of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street in which it was performed as a radio play, or rather musical, and a fog machine. It was awesome! I only got halfway through the play before I had to leave to catch the bus (because the special needs bus showed up about 10 min. earlier than the regular school bus) but I was still hooked. Ironically I have never heard the end of the radio play and I was in college before I saw the stage performance of it but I was absolutely ecstatic to discover that my theater appreciation professor in college had a minor obsession with the play.One of his life’s ambitions is to play Sweeney Todd on stage before he dies.
The thing I absolutely love about Mr. Kelly is that he really cares about his choir kids, and we were all his kids, general and show choir alike, whether he taught your class or not, you could always talk to him, even if the biggest problem was just that the day had really sucked. He left the state shortly after I graduated to continue his Masters degree in music somewhere in Pennsylvania and I lost track of him. Regardless of where he is now, I hope he continues to teach online help mine was not one of the last classes to experience the joy he felt in singing