It has been a very bright year for the Keokuk choral programs, all the way back to All-State selections in 2018.
Six Keokuk singers were selected to be part of the All-State choirs this year.
“We are really honored to have six people selected for that honor choir this year. That’s tied for the most Keokuk’s ever had this year, so that’s really exciting,” Keokuk Director of Choirs Katie Sullivan said.
Freshman Bailey Bender was also selected to be part of the Opus Honor Choir as well.
The groups carried this early momentum into the show choir season and found success in the some of their first performances.
Sullivan said the group has come a long way since their full preview in January.
“The great thing for me is to watch them develop,” Sullivan said. “They are always hungry to learn more.”
Members will regularly come in to sit down with her to go over what they can continue to work on.
“That is what makes them so great, not what I’m doing, it is what they are hungry to be great at,” Sullivan said.
They have won several Best Choreography and Best Band awards during their first weeks of competition and also captured Grand Champions at Pella for the sixth year in a row.
This is just Sullivan’s second year with Keokuk and she said there was a lot of pressure last year to win that fifth straight, but things were different this season.
“I remember just being terrified, thinking like ‘oh no, if we don’t win this, like, they’re going to think it’s going to be all my fault,'” Sullivan said.
She said it was a different feeling this year and the biggest key was just keeping everyone motivated.
Because of the weather that day, the group was actually unable to stay for awards, but did get to celebrate together on the bus while watching a live stream.
“That was exciting, just to have that moment for ourselves and to walk away with that, it was a good feeling,” Sullivan said.
Keokuk’s biggest performance left this year is a trip to Nashville, Tennessee for the Heart of America Nashville competition on March 16.
The event will be at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and will feature groups from all over the Midwest, Alabama, North Carolina and other states.
“That’s going to be really exciting for us, not to just be competing against them, but to get to see schools from other parts of the nation and see how other people are doing things,” Sullivan said.
For this competition especially, it’s not just about coming out with a win.
“It’s not necessarily about making finals, getting the best trophy. It’s about taking the kids somewhere where they’re going to get an experience they’re not going to get in Keokuk.”