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Day 6-7: Pop Competition

Competition Day 1 and our big Stars of the World Choir Games Concert were conquered the day before, and the group was ready to conquer its second day of competition in the Pop Music category.

After yet another delicious breakfast at our hotel, the group gathered in the conference room for a quick rehearsal. The choir went over each song they were about to perform in the competition hours later, just to ensure every note, every phrase and every movement was just right.

When rehearsal was over, it was time to change into the formal uniforms and have hair and makeup done. The group had a little over an hour to prepare and make sure they were stage and camera ready by the time the bus arrived to transport us to the competition venue, the Riga Congress Centre.

There were considerably more competitors in the Pop Competition than in the Gospel Competition, but Voices of Unity was up for the challenge. Once we arrived, the students remained backstage, while the adult chaperones, tour leader and camera men watched the preceding acts from the balcony of the auditorium. This time, Voices of Unity was the third act to perform. The first group was from Poland and sang several songs in their native language. The second group was an all-girl a capella group. Their style was similar to that of a group from the popular tv show, The Sing Off. They sang several familiar songs.

Next, VOU took the stage. When they took the stage, they lit up the entire auditorium. The set started with “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” by Whitney Houston led by VOU alumna, Kamia White. Kamia’s stage presence kept the audience engaged. Next, they sang another Whitney Houston song, “One Moment In Time” led by Jocelyn Redmon. The crowd was really into this song, and began cheering the choir on in the middle of the song; something they had not done with the two preceding choirs. Next, they sang “I’ll Be There” by The Jackson 5, led by VOU Wayne Starks and VOU alumnus, Jordan Applegate. Both belted out all the notes perfectly, leading to yet another positive reaction from the audience. The set ended with an a capella version of “What A Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong. They nailed it! Every crescendo, every note was beautiful.

The next group was another a capella group which sang a medley of popular 70’s songs such as “Good Times” by Chic, again, in a similar style to that seen on the tv show, The Sing-Off. This style of singing was very popular during this year’s competition.

There were nearly 20 groups in this competition, but we were not able to stay for the entire competition. The adults met with the rest of the group outside and took more group pictures, this time, dressed in their sparkly red tops and red ties. The group also gathered to sing “Happy Birthday” in the style of Stevie Wonder for a very special birthday message for our tour guide, Liva to send to her best friend.

We made our way back to the hotel so the group could change into their casual uniforms in preparation for the first awards ceremony later that night. After everyone changed into their red t-shirts and khaki shorts, we all made our way to the hotel restaurant where the head chef and staff prepared a very special lunch buffet just for our group. Everyone enjoyed the meal so much, that the group wanted to show their gratitude by singing to the chefs when the meal was over. We called them to the dining area, and the group serenaded them with “What a Wonderful World.” The staff clapped and thanked the group for such a nice gift. Next, everyone took time to relax before it was time to head to the Arena Riga for the Gospel Category Awards.

The group did not find out the results of the Pop Category until the next morning. We arrived at the Arena Riga around 11:00 AM, and again, were faced with a bit of adversity, as we were not being allowed to enter because tickets were not available for us, and our name had somehow not been placed on the list of choirs to enter the venue. We eventually made it into the arena. This time, it did not take as long to get to the category we were waiting for. When they announced the category, we were nervous as the names of each group were being called for the bronze, silver and gold medals. We received a silver medal with a total of 79.20 points! We cheered for ourselves as we watched Mr. White and two representatives from the choir, Rebecca Soto and Jamie King, take the stage to receive the medal.

Our next days will include time to relax and enjoy the city! Stay tuned for more stories of our adventures in Riga!

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