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Rise up singing

Kaleo Guerrero, a junior at Olympic High School, sings an opening solo during jazz choir practice Tuesday morning. He is backed up by the rest of Olympic’s jazz choir. - Photo by Wes Morrow
Kaleo Guerrero, a junior at Olympic High School, sings an opening solo during jazz choir practice Tuesday morning. He is backed up by the rest of Olympic’s jazz choir.
— image credit: Photo by Wes Morrow

“Summertime” was written in 1935 by the famous composer George Gershwin. It is commonly considered one of his greatest achievements.

Since the song’s release it has been performed by countless famous musicians, perhaps most recently by Olympic High School junior Kaleo Guerreo.

It will be the middle of February when Guerrero travels to Portland to perform as a Jazz Vocalist, but he’ll be there in part due to his rendition of the song “Summertime.”

Guerrero was selected among thousands of students from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Alaska and Wyoming to perform at the biennial Northwest National Association of Music Education conference.

Only 26 students were selected from the thousands of auditions to perform in the All-Northwest Jazz choir this Saturday at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Ore. Guerrero said finding out he was selected was a great confidence boost.

“That’s an enormous achievement for me,” he said. “I feel really good.”

Along with the All-Northwest groups like Guerrero’s, there will be performances by All-State groups from Oregon and Washington.

Geurrero left Tuesday morning, driving to Portland with his dad and cousin. He will have just four days to meet his fellow singers and rehearse with them as a group.

He admitted four days isn’t very long to prepare with people he has yet to meet, but thinks they’ll rise to the challenge.

“I can safely assume that we’re all dedicated enough that we know our music and we’re going to go in and get everything done like lickety-split,” Guerrero said. “You can’t just not be dedicated and get here.”

When he was in 9th grade, Guerrero was selected to perform with one of the other choirs, but those other group’s are much larger than the All-Northwest jazz choir he’ll be performing with on Saturday.

“The feel’s going to be a lot different though, because it’s going to be 26 people instead of 200, 300, and that’s an entirely different feeling,” Guerrero said.

As one of only 26 students that will be standing on stage in front of a concert hall full of music educators, Guerrero will be showcasing his vocals for many of the people in the best position to judge his talent.

That isn’t something from which he’s one to back down, though. Music is Guerrero’s passion, and he’s been practicing his whole life.

“Music has just been a part of my life since I was two years old,” he said.

Really, even before that — Guerrero said his father used to sing to him when his mother was pregnant with him.

At the last Kitsap County Fair, Guerrero was able to talk his way on-stage, where he played guitar and sang for a gathering crowd. One of the performing comedians had generously given up a couple minutes of time to Guerrero.

The fair asked him to come back this year to perform as an invited guest — so this time he won’t have to sneak in through the back.

The livin’ hasn’t always been easy for Guerrero. He’s had to move a half-dozen times just in the last few years, but he’s not letting that hold him back.

He wants to pursue a musical career after high school, maybe even teach. Either way, performing in front of hundreds of the Northwest’s music educators should help.

 

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