The Detroit Academy of Arts & Sciences (DAAS) choir is a reason to be happy this holiday season. Angela Kee is their fearless leader and, under her direction, the choir has performed at tourist conventions, opened Pistons and Lions games, and even sang at the White House for President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama—and 80% of the students at DAAS live at or below the poverty level.
“What we do to inspire them here is we infuse the arts into the programming,” Morton said. “We use the arts to get them excited about learning. And they do a great job.”
This year, the choir decided to their version of George Clinton’s “One Nation Under A Groove,” and the reaction has been more than they expected.
Renee Monforton, vice president of marketing and communication for Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau (Visit Detroit) tells Blac she brought the idea for the choir to do a fun holiday greeting for the city, but was not expecting the enormous reaction it garnered.
“We brought the idea to Kee as a virtual holiday card at first, something to highlight both the best tourism spots and Detroit’s talented kids. Then people kept sharing and liking, and before we knew it the video was playing on the street screen at Cobo Hall and had a million views online,” Monforton says.
Father of funk, George Clinton, even gave the DAAS kids social media props for their remix of the 1978 anthem.
“Giving you more of what you’re funkin’ for!” Clinton wrote in the shared post.
Detroit Academy of Arts and Sciences has 694 students in kindergarten through fifth grade.
In 2002, the choir was a small after-school club that scavenged chairs from other rooms. In 2020, kids enroll at DAAS just for a chance to sing with the choir.
“They have fun and they make a positive impact on people who hear them because the love is there,” Kee tells Blac. “But they don’t get overwhelmed by the fame. The main thing they’re worried about is whether there’ll be pizza afterward!”
Kee adds that the reputation of the choir is one built on dedication, presentation, and pride in every aspect of their performance, and since 2001—when the choir was just a small group of kids singing for the holidays—Kee has stressed those values.
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