Proof of the quality of my choir came rather quickly. I had my first All State Choir Member, Martha Amis, my very first year. All Region and All State choirs were well represented for years to come. The choir was invited to record a special Christmas Concert at KHOU television in Houston. In the spring, I challenged Roger Wagner to come and hear my choir while he and his Chorale were in town, appearing at Texas A&M’s Town Hall series. He took me up on my challenge and not only came to give an impromptu clinic for my group, but had his entire Chorale come and sing with them. He paid them a great compliment when he said, “I’ve ,worked with high school choirs all over the world, but I must admit that this is without a doubt the best one I’ve heard”. He had told me that if the choir was not as good as advertised, I would owe him $250. I didn’t have to pay)
The crowning achievement of that year was the invite to represent Texas Rotarians at their international convention in New York City in June. We also were the first high school choir to perform ‘live’ on NBC’s “Today”, hosted by Dave Garroway. That invitation came from pressure by our then Congressman Olin Teague. The choir did very well in spite of difficulties planned and executed by Garroway. He didn’t want to take a chance with of bad performance by an ‘amatuer’ group. Later, he admitted his mistake and apologized. I also turned down an invitation to have my choir appear as special guests of “The Rockets” at Radio City Music Hall for a ten week run. They could only use forty voices and there was no way I would leave thirty-two of my choir at home.
Upon returning home, I was called into the Superintendent’s Office and instead of being thankful for a very successful trip with students, He said,”Don’t let this go to your head, Jim. Choir isn’t king here, it’s Football!” I never showed him the stack of mail I received from all over the world.
Barbara Walters was Garroway’s Production Assistant and she picked the choir up in twenty-six cabs to carry us to Radio City from our hotel. She told me that our few minutes on national television meant hundreds of thousands of dollars to Bryan/College Station, and all that publicity simply overshadowed ‘precious’ football. Not much was made of Roger Wagner’s visit, either.
(When Bryan built the Civic Auditorium, Band, Choir and Musical Productions had as many in attendance as football games)
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
And, that’s what I get from MY box of chocolates. AMEN