Special to South Florida Times
BOYNTON BEACH — Hitting all the right notes, Dimensional Harmony has sung and danced its way into national television. The Boynton Beach High School choir has been selected last month as one of the finalists from schools across the country, including some colleges in a competition sponsored by NBC’s Today Show.
Now the choir, which has performed at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago and Harlem’s Apollo Theater, is heading to New York City for its Today Show debut.
Dimensional Harmony director Sterling Frederick said competing in the contest almost didn’t happen.
“I didn’t know anything about the contest. Some friends from high school contacted me and said, ‘You should enter the Today Show contest.’ I said, ‘No.’ I didn’t think we could possibly win. [But] don’t underestimate what your students can do.”
Frederick coaxed his students into auditioning by telling them they were doing a video for Walt Disney World. He did not want to make them nervous or get their hopes up.
A song and dance test was done with the 60-member choir and still the students had no idea they were auditioning. The top 20 performers from the audition made a video which was sent to the Today Show.
Within a week, Frederick heard back from NBC, which informed him Dimensional Harmony had been chosen as one of four finalists. The others were Ball State
University Singers in Indiana, Butler Headliners from Butler Community College in Kansas and Celebration Show Choir from Mars Hill Bible School in Alabama.
About 115,000 people voted via the Internet and Dimensional Harmony was named best show choir in the nation.
The choir will travel to New York to perform a musical/dance number to pop/R&B hit September by Earth, Wind and Fire at 10 a.m., Friday, Nov. 12.
Frederick said being a part of DH, as the group is known around campus, helps students develop self-esteem, especially those who have endured hardships and setbacks. Most of them graduate from high school and go on to college or pursue career interests, he said.
Auditions for the choir are stringent. Students must have a good musical ear, sing a prepared piece, match pitches with various scales and have an understanding of tonality. Those with the highest earned scores for each section, such as bass, tenor and alto, make the cut.
Choir members must also show good conduct in the classroom, attend rehearsals, have good grades and show a positive attitude, Frederick said.
“Dimensional Harmony teaches the students discipline and self-control,” he said. “It gives them a sense of self-esteem because they must [meet the criteria] in order to participate in the choir.”
Third year member Carson Gedeus said being part of the choir has helped him learn a lot about life.
“It’s taught me morals, getting my work done, discipline,” he said. “When you do something wrong, you’re disciplined for it.”
Miki Louis’ first year in Dimensional Harmony has helped her to be an all-around better person, she said. “The choir has taught me organizational skills, time management and learning how to sing better,” said the 16-year-old student.
Boynton Beach High Principal Keith Oswald said helping students graduate and presenting them with opportunities is a top priority.
Dimensional Harmony’s winning the Today Show contest has definitely had a positive impact on the school, he said.
“One student said it taught him, ‘I can achieve anything I put my mind to,’ and that’s a huge message,” Oswald said. “When students are involved, whether it’s choir or any kind of clubs, sports, activities, it definitely helps them stay focused. It gives them that connection.”
DH member Reginald Burgess agrees, saying the choir is like a second family. “Everyone here cares for someone in a certain way. When we come here, all the problems that we usually have are just gone,” he said.
Frederick said entering and winning the contest has also taught him a few life lessons. “It encouraged me to dream big,” he said. “Set high goals for the students and they will meet those goals.”
Pictured: Sterling Frederick