Last month Wé McDonald, 20-year-old celebrity music artist from Harlem, NY, performed alongside more than 200 students from Kinard Core Knowledge Middle School’s 6th Grade choir, Cor Angelique (women’s choir), and Mustang Men (men’s choir), as well as the high school choir at the Lincoln Center in Fort Collins, CO on May 15.
McDonald first gained national attention and fame as a finalist on Season 11 of NBC’s ‘The Voice’ where she was coached by Alicia Keys. Now as Wé’s star continues to rise, she gives back as an anti-bullying ambassador for leading international nonprofit No Bully (nobully.org), and speaks regularly to students about the negative experiences she endured when she was younger. Her partner organization, No Bully, has been active for more than a decade and is dedicated to eradicating bullying and cyberbullying worldwide while building sustainable social and emotional strategies that ignite empathy, compassion and kindness in youth.
The students’ opportunity to sing live with Wé was a result of their winning 1st place this spring in the I Have A Voice national singing competition. The contest, a collaborative campaign to raise awareness around bullying, was hosted by No Bully and sponsored by Hasbro Inc. under the umbrella of its signature philanthropic initiative, BE FEARLESS BE KIND. The concert event was streamed live on Facebook and hundreds of family members across the country commented in with messages of pride and support as they watched their grandchildren, nieces and nephews on stage with McDonald. Choral Director Scott Wheeler, who led Kinard’s choir to victory in the competition, stated, “The kids are really excited to get a chance to not only meet her but also get to sing with her, and to express their 230 voices along with her voice in one unified group”.
As expected, McDonald gave a flawless performance throughout, kicking off her first solo set with Set Fire to the Rain, showcasing her soaring, soulful vocals to a sold-out audience of 1,150. It was a profound evening with challenging pieces from all four school choirs including a cover of Billy Eilish’s Lovely, and an emotional rendition of Ani Ma’amin accompanied by a slideshow of images from the Holocaust. Wheeler arranged a heartfelt and engaging musical program ranging from classical, Kyrie Eleison, to old favorites like Sound of Music, to gospel/worship and traditional African songs like Freedom is Coming/Hamba Vangeli.
The Mustang Men’s choir draws chuckles during their John Denver tribute medley with charming choreography.
Hasbro representative Kevin Colman, Director of Global Philanthropy, took the stage to state how proud Hasbro was to sponsor the I Have A Voice campaign saying, “what’s really important is our purpose as a company and our purpose is to make the world a better place for children and their families. We are in forty countries and wherever we operate we give toys, games, grants, and work with really great nonprofit partners like No Bully…to work in schools to eradicate bullying, build new friendships, and get to the core of this issue for children.”
The Cor Angelique women’s choir perform old Malaysian folk song Wau Bulan.
McDonald sings a beautiful acoustic version of her latest original single, Good For, while students and the audience enthusiastically chime in on the chorus. She closed out her last set with her Head Up High single from 2018 and a rousing cover of This Is Me from The Greatest Showman, which received a standing ovation.
The grand finale had McDonald joining all four choirs on stage for an ensemble performance of the song that brought Wé and the students together, I Have A Voice, eliciting a second standing ovation.
After the show, students line up excitedly to meet McDonald backstage, presenting her with fan art, and taking photos to commemorate the once-in-a-lifetime experience.