Credo High School presents “The Aretha Franklin Tribute” Nov. 30th at 7 p.m. Hear fifteen or so Aretha Franklin songs performed by fifty some music students. Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart” will be added to the play list as Aretha’s sister often sang that song. Listen for some very fine trumpet solos. Donations to the Credo Music Department will serve as the cost of admission, $15 for adults and $5 for students.
Credo music teacher, Eddie Guthman, has had many of his talented students working to prepare for this musical feast. He has assigned different pieces to each of his classes. Many vocalists, singing solo or in harmony, along with a variety of strings, horns, some percussion and piano, have all worked hard to prepare for this reprisal.
Guthman’s classroom has one wall lined with many musical instruments, including acoustic and electric guitars and banjos and other strings. All of these instruments have been purchased with a grant so that students do not have to lug their instruments to and from school. Classic posters such as the Beatles under umbrellas, The Who, and The Rolling Stones add to the “chill” and “laid back” feel to the music room.
We wonder how the formal presentation can top the rehearsal that we attended during Guthman’s first period class. The students sauntered in casually, chatting and reaching for instruments or music sheets. Warm up sounds filtered through the talk. The play list for the class highlighted the white board. The drummer and the electric guitarist set a beat.
Then five vocalists adjusted their microphones as bits and pieces of Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” aired incongruously across the room. The drummer called, “One, two,” and the morning slid from a classroom to Aretha’s world. The four backup singers held “oo” for a moment and the lead singer belted out, “What you want” and then another “oo” followed by “Baby I got” and Aretha’s signature hit permeated the room. All five singers moved with the beat while those of us in the audience found ourselves mentally tapping our toes and snapping our fingers.
“I Say a Little Prayer” followed. The five singers produced a lovely and clear quiet harmony that moved smoothly to a gentle beat, not so quiet and yet not overdone. Then the student musicians moved to a warm up of a third song, “Ain’t No Way.” Impressive to observe, the instrumentalists and the vocalists seemed to direct each other through a warm up practice as they worked on hitting some high notes. Then the song flowed as the animated students made adjustments along the way with a sense of musical camaraderie.
Next, “Daydreaming” began almost with a South American “Girl from Ipanema” beat accompanied with pure vocal harmony. The class period wound down with a solo vocalist smoothly singing “Thinking of You” and ended with the group offering “Baby, I Love You.”
Guthman said, “I have had fantastic kids all year. This eleventh grade is very special.” And, after watching him and his class, we conclude that music teacher Eddie Guthman is “very special” himself. He creates such a relaxed atmosphere that the students appear to run the show, and just when you think this, Guthman slips in a suggestion or two, or grabs an instrument and becomes a part of the musical scene.
The rehearsal, so engaging, makes us imagine what wonderful entertainment will be produced by two hours of a formal presentation. See “The Aretha Franklin Tribute” at Credo High School on Nov. 30 at 7 p.m. Adult donations of $15 and student donations of $5 to the Credo Music Department is all that is being asked. Extra bonus: on Dec. 1, the next day, The Credo Music Ensemble will participate in the Cotati Days Festival.